A Wanted Man
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780440246312, $9.99, www.bantamdell.com
The action in this newest in the Jack Reacher series begins with a body discovered in what is apparently an abandoned pumping station in rural Nebraska, an eyewitness able to give only scant details of the two men he saw with the victim, and who drove away in a bright red car afterwards. Very shortly thereafter, in addition to the local police, representatives of several governmental agencies designated by groups of letters such as CIA and FBI descend on the area. An alert is quickly put in place on all highways along the area interstates for the two men.
Jack Reacher is variously described here as ex-military, specifically a former major in the Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police, now unemployed and essentially homeless, self-described, most pertinently here, as "just a guy, hitching rides." On the same mid-winter night, he has been standing at the side of an on-ramp for over an hour when he is given a ride in a car with two men and a woman inside, his ultimate destination being Virginia. That destination and his present appearance, the main feature of which is a badly broken nose, are the aftermath of events at the end of the last book in the series; an imposing figure overall, the broken nose is probably the main reason why it took so long for him to be offered a ride.
Initially the points of view alternate between Reacher and Julia Sorenson, the FBI Special Agent first called to the crime scene, a very capable 25-year Bureau veteran out of the Omaha field office. Eventually their paths cross, and they work together to get to the bottom of what turns out to be anything but your average murder.
The book is everything one can expect in a Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel, including terrific plotting and characterizations, and especially Reacher himself, who, when asked by one of the men in the car that picked him up, "You don't like to be pushed around, do you, Mr. Reacher?" responds "I don't know. I've never been pushed around. If it ever happens, you'll be the first to find out whether I like it or not." He demonstrates once again his vast knowledge of relatively arcane trivia, such as the population and area codes of almost any spot in the United States. It's great to have him back, and the novel, one I swiftly devoured, is highly recommended.
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250015297, $14.99, www.minotaurbooks.com
I have come late to this author's books, of which there have sixteen between 1987 and today, many of them in the series whose protagonist is Daniel Oliver Thorn, "the man from Key Largo" known simply as Thorn, whose well-deserved reputation is that of someone "going off the rails at warp speed." As this most recent book in the series opens, Thorn is drawn into the investigation of serial murders committed by a person dubbed as "the obit killer," with the police believing that the killer, who leaves a recent, seemingly unrelated obituary near his victims' bodies, has found secret codes hidden in them, codes he uses as blueprints for his killings."
Thorn contacts April Moss, the journalist who wrote the obituaries in question for The Miami Herald, a woman he met many years ago and with whom he had a very brief, but very intense, history, also known as a one-night stand. In an odd coincidence [or is it?], April has two sons, both of whom work on the cable TV show "Miami Ops;" one of them is the head writer for the show, the other is an actor in it. The other common factor in these killings is that it appears that they are copycats of plots used in the scripts for the show.
The supporting characters are all memorable: Laurence Sugarman, known to all as "Sugar," Thorn's friend and a "security professional" - - they were lifelong friends, "Thorn, a loner by choice;" Sugar, of mixed race " an outsider by blood"); April's mother, Garvey, a feisty senior citizen; their Doberman, Boxley; but most of all, Rusty Stabler, Thorn's lover for two years and his wife for a month (after it was discovered that she had terminal cancer), and the young woman whose foster mother was Rusty's aunt, a nineteen-year-old small-town Sheriff with the unlikely name of Buddha Hilton, an unforgettable character who gets Thorn entangled in the investigation.
The novel is written with lyrical prose that suddenly turns an interesting novel into something more urgent, at once literally breaktaking and unputdown-able, and it is highly recommended.
A Room Full of Bones
c/o Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston MA 02116
9780544001121, $14.95, www.hmhbooks.com
Dr. Ruth Galloway, the 41-year-old Head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk, returns in this new novel by Elly Griffiths. As the book opens Kate, the baby born to Ruth a result of a one-night stand with Detective Inspector Harry Nelson...