Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hard Way

The Hard Way by Lee Child

Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money because Edward Lane, the man who paid it, would do anything to get his family back.

Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And Jack Reacher is the best manhunter in the world.

On the trail of vicious kidnappers, Reacher learns the chilling secrets of his employer’s past . . . and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. He knows that Edward Lane is hiding something. Something dirty. Something big. But Reacher also knows this: He’s already in way too deep to stop now. And if he has to do it the hard way, he will.

--The Hard Way by Lee Child, Copyright ©2006 by Lee Child

My Review

The Hard Way is the 10th book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.

It was just another night at a sidewalk café in New York City. Reacher was enjoying a cup of coffee when he saw a man cross the street, enter a car, and drive away. That’s all. Nothing special. But very significant.

The following night at the same café (the coffee was very good), a stranger approaches Reacher. Did you see a man enter a car and drive off? You did? My name is Gregory. I need you to come with me and describe him to my boss.

And so begins another Jack Reacher adventure.

Upon arriving at an apartment in The Dakota, Reacher meets Gregory’s boss, Edward Lane. After some fishing on both sides, Reacher finds out exactly what he witnessed. Lane’s wife and step-daughter were kidnapped and the ransom money was in that car. Unfortunately, Reacher can’t give much of a description because he never really saw the driver’s face. He does, however, agree to help Lane out. You might say women and children in danger are Reacher’s hot button issues. He can’t help wanting to solve their problems.

He tells Lane the kidnappers will call again, this time for more money. Lane and his men are skeptical, but eventually the phone rings with a demand for more money, five million this time. Lane pays. Reacher says the next call will demand ten million. The phone rings. They want more money, but this time, they’re asking for four and a half million. Ten and a half all together. The figure bothers Reacher. What’s the significance behind the number?

Reacher finds out Lane and his men are mercenaries and they’ve done some work for the Pentagon. A few years ago he and his men did a job in Burkina Faso, but two men didn’t return from that assignment. Now that he has a lead, Reacher knows what to do. Because one of the two men left behind died in Burkina Faso, the other returned to America. And 10.5 million is exactly half of the payment Lane received for the Burkina Faso job.

So is this a case of the man left behind seeking compensation? Or is there something else going on that Reacher doesn’t know about…yet? Because Reacher won’t stop until he finds the truth…all of it.

Another great Jack Reacher story, but I have to admit, there was … something … about this one that felt off to me. It was everything I’d come to expect with all the twists, turns and fabulous action of a classic Lee Child novel, but I think I’m becoming too used to his style. You see, I knew from the beginning that there was going to be more behind the kidnapping than just the straightforward facts and that two seemingly unrelated events were going to be tied together the obvious way and a more obscure way that Reacher has to dig out. That’s been the pattern of most if not all the Jack Reacher novels, so maybe that’s my problem. I guess I’ll just have to deal with it because I can’t wait to start the next book.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

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