Two lonely towns in Colorado: Hope and Despair. Between them, twelve miles of empty road. Jack Reacher never turns back. It's not in his nature. All he wants is a cup of coffee. What he gets is big trouble. So in Lee Child’s electrifying new novel, Reacher—a man with no fear, no illusions, and nothing to lose—goes to war against a town that not only wants him gone, it wants him dead.
It wasn’t the welcome Reacher expected. He was just passing through, minding his own business. But within minutes of his arrival a deputy is in the hospital and Reacher is back in Hope, setting up a base of operations against Despair, where a huge, seething walled-off industrial site does something nobody is supposed to see . . . where a small plane takes off every night and returns seven hours later . . . where a garrison of well-trained and well-armed military cops—the kind of soldiers Reacher once commanded—waits and watches . . . where above all two young men have disappeared and two frightened young women wait and hope for their return.
Joining forces with a beautiful cop who runs Hope with a cool hand, Reacher goes up against Despair—against the deputies who try to break him and the rich man who tries to scare him—and starts to crack open the secrets, starts to expose the terrifying connection to a distant war that’s killing Americans by the thousand.
Now, between a town and the man who owns it, between Reacher and his conscience, something has to give. And Reacher never gives an inch.
--Nothing to Lose by Lee Child, Copyright ©2008 by Lee Child
After spending the night in Hope, Colorado, Reacher heads west. He’d been in Calais, Maine, and decided to go to San Diego. Rather than catch a cross-country bus to get there in a couple days, he walks, or hitches rides, or catches a bus to get from one place to the next, slowly making his way to the south and west. He’s in no hurry. Jack Reacher is a man with no responsibilities and he has all the time in the world.
West of the town of Hope is the town of Despair. He stops in at a diner for a cup of coffee but has a hard time getting service. He eventually gets his coffee, and then he gets arrested for vagrancy and a ride back to the boundary between Hope and Despair with a stern warning not to return.
Leaving town is fine with him, but he didn’t want to go east. If the deputy had taken him to the western town border and dropped him off there, he would have happily gone on his way to San Diego. But the deputy took him to the east, backtracking Reacher’s path, and Reacher hates turning back.
Deputy Vaughn of the Hope P.D. picks him up and takes him back to town. He questions her about the unusual treatment he got in Despair and doesn’t like what he hears. He decides to defy the Despair judge’s orders and returns to do a little exploring. On his way back to Hope, he stumbles over a dead body. A young man who likely died of dehydration, he figures, but can’t tell much in the darkness. When he returns in the daylight with Vaughn, the body’s gone.
He borrows Vaughn’s truck so he can better explore the area. He drives the long way around and approaches the town from the west, where he finds a small military guard post. Now why would a small town in Colorado have a military guard post on the only road west of town manned by soldiers fresh from Iraq?
Deciding he needs to investigate even further, he returns again the next day and enters the metal processing plant. He explores the facility and before long, is apprehended by plant security. Jerry Thurman, the plant’s—and the town’s—owner decides to give Reacher a tour of the plant. He answers Reacher’s questions and though they’re perfectly plausible answers, Reacher doesn’t believe them.
Being the sort of man he is, Reacher doesn’t like unusual situations. He also doesn’t like it when people lie to him or when bodies of young men disappear. He wants to know what’s going on in Despair and he’ll do whatever it takes to expose all of Despair’s secrets.
As I read this story, I couldn’t help but emphasize with the people of Despair. They’re just living their lives, maybe not happily, but it’s not a bad life. And here comes this know-it-all former Military Policeman, butting his nose into their business, asking all sorts of questions and making demands for information. Why is there a walled-off section of the plant’s compound? Thurman flies his airplane every night…where does he go? Why does he do it? What is the military guard post guarding against? What’s in the sealed shipping containers? If the plant is doing so well, why isn’t the town prospering? Plus he’s asking a lot of other questions that have nothing to do with Despair. Why can’t this guy mind his own business?
Of course, when you reach the end of the story, you’re grateful he did butt his nose in and prevented a cataclysm of epic proportions.
I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.