From a helicopter high above the California desert, a man is sent free-falling into the night. On the streets of Portland, Jack Reacher is pulled out of his wandering life and plunged into the heart of a conspiracy that is killing old friends . . . and the people he once trusted with his life.
Reacher is the ultimate loner–no phone, no ties, no address. But a woman from his old military unit has found him using a signal only the eight members of their elite team would know. Then she tells him a terrifying story about the brutal death of a man they both served with. Soon Reacher is reuniting with the survivors of his team, scrambling to unravel the sudden disappearance of two other comrades. But Reacher won’t give up–because in a world of bad luck and trouble, when someone targets Jack Reacher and his team, they’d better be ready for what comes right back at them.
--Bad Luck & Trouble by Lee Child, Copyright ©2007 by Lee Child
Reacher is in Portland, checking his bank balance at an ATM (he finally got an ATM card!) and discovers a discrepancy. There’s too much money in the account. One thousand thirty dollars too much, to be exact. One-Oh-Three-Oh. He knows that number. One of his old team is reaching out for his help. A call to the bank gives him the answer. It’s Frances Neagley (from Without Fail), a member of an elite Army Military Police special investigation team he headed up for two years.
He joins Neagley in Los Angeles where she tells him some bad news. Another member of their team, Calvin Franz, was found dead in the desert outside L.A. (you might remember him from The Enemy). He was murdered, pushed out of a helicopter. The bad news doesn’t end there…she’s tried contacting all the members of their old team and none of them so far have responded. No one but Reacher. We need to reunite the old team, she says, so we can find out what’s going on.
Eventually, two more members of the team find them, Carla Dixon and David O’Donnell. Tony Swann, Manuel Orosco and Jorge Sanchez remain missing. Together, the four of them begin to piece together the few clues they have…a confusing series of figures, a list of five names, and a note scribbled on a napkin. From the figures, they divine the number 650 is important, but how it relates is anyone’s guess. Of the list of names, they figure the first is someone’s real name followed by four aliases. They decide one of their four friends ran into a situation and called for help from the three that lived closest. But which one called on the others is another unknown. Since Manuel Orosco and Jorge Sanchez ran a casino security firm in Las Vegas, they figure the numbers have something to do with the casinos, so they go to Vegas. But Vegas proves to be a waste of time. Except for the man who tried to kill them on a deserted side street.
That’s when things get interesting.
Who is this almost-killer? Who does he work for? What’s his connection—is there a connection?—to any of their missing friends? Who is the man with the four aliases and how does he figure in?
With the dead man’s identity known, they’re able to start putting the pieces together. And the picture isn’t a pretty one. But in the end, the bad guys find out exactly why the old unit’s motto used to be, and still is, “You don’t mess with the Special Investigators.”
I think it’s nice that Reacher got to reunite with his old friends, even if some of them are, sadly, unable to join the party. It’s almost too bad that they part ways at the end of the story. I’d love to see the four of them working together again in the future. But even though I’m pretty sure that won’t happen, I’m also pretty sure we’ll be seeing Frances Neagley again. Just a feeling…
I give this story FOUR STARS.