A bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.
Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman he’ll risk his life to save.
by Lee Child
Copyright ©2009 by Lee Child
Published by Jove Books
Jack Reacher is in South Dakota on a tour bus heading toward Mount Rushmore. Seeing the monument isn’t his plan, he just needs to head toward it to catch the main highway heading south. After all, South Dakota in winter is not the place for a vagabond such as himself. But when the bus crashes in the middle of a blizzard, he springs into action and helps get the passengers settled in the nearby town of Bolton.
While there, he becomes curious about the behavior of the police department’s top two men, Chief Holland and his second-in-command, Deputy Chief Peterson. They’re expecting something bad, more than just another blizzard and Reacher being Reacher, he gets involved. He really would rather just move on, but since he’s stuck in Bolton until the roads clear, he might as well give the town the benefits of his experience.
One of Bolton’s main problems is the large group of bikers camping out at an abandoned Army facility just outside of town. The police believe the bikers have a meth lab in their camp, but so far, have no authority to search. When one of the bikers is busted for dealing—with a highly regarded local woman as witness—their ability to drive out the bikers is greatly improved. The witness, Janet Salter, just needs to survive through to trial. That tells Reacher what Holland and Peterson are expecting…a killer with his sights on the witness.
Reacher agrees to help guard Mrs. Salter. He also offers to help Holland and Peterson sort through they mystery of the abandoned Army facility so they can get a grip on what exactly the bikers are doing out there. Along the way, they discover a connection to a powerful drug lord from Mexico called Plato. Plato is a man who gets what he wants and there are two things he wants: he wants what the bikers are guarding, and he wants Janet Salter dead. Plato will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
And there’s only one man who can stop Plato from getting what he wants.
The author, Lee Child, started this story with the idea that the telling of it would cover a 61 hour period, and so at appropriate intervals, he inserts a countdown, letting the reader know just how many hours are left. You’d expect a lot to happen in those 61 hours, but much of it passes pretty calmly with only a few spikes of action. It’s actually a little bit boring, but because you know the clock is ticking, the tension inside you increases until you’ve got only the last six hours to go and that’s when everything happens.
Reacher isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes in judgment and his assumptions, while based on experience, don’t always prove to be right. But just because he makes mistakes, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t learn from them. He adjusts as necessary so he can achieve the desired outcome. I like that he isn’t always right, that he makes mistakes and has to rethink his strategies. It makes him human, not perfect, and I think that adds to his appeal as a literary hero.
As to the exciting cliff-hanger ending, I had the comfort of knowing there was a 15th Jack Reacher novel, so I know he survived the ending of this adventure…but in what shape I won’t know until I start Worth Dying For.
I give this story FOUR and a HALF STARS.