Lee Child – “Jack Reacher” – or a special kind of legacy

I hesitated a while to write the review about this book for a few reasons. First my English is quite rusty, second I just can’t remember all those details about the structure of US Army properly. Third, that part of the story that is just loosely bound to the rest gets me close to tears every time I remember it.

Stil I want to begin with a brief summary, before I try to explain this last reason.

The Enemy

The story is told out of Jack Reacher’s point of view. You ask who Jack Reacher is?! Well, a Military Police Officer, exactly 30 years old. He has an older brother, his father had died few years ago and his mother lives in her hometown, Paris. At the dawn of a new decade without Cold War, New Year’s Day 1990, he sits on his post and receives the message of a dead General. Died on a heart attack. Nothing to bother a MP so far. But there had been another person in the hotel room and the brief case with a secret agenda got missing.

In less than two weeks Reacher does not only find out about a homosexual love triangle, but also stops a conspiracy that was meant to keep the status quo in some parts of the military that are at a loss after the end of Cold War. And he witnesses how his mother dies of cancer.

Nothing to lose

Reacher is no longer at the military, but spends his time wandering through USA, sometimes working and usually trying not to bother anyone. When he passes through the city of Despair the locals want to make sure he moves on. The only thing they get is a highly curious Reacher who takes out all of their police deputies and gets even to the inside of the “recycling yard” employing nearly everyone in Despair and keeping the military interested in this small piece of land. But they overlook a route of deserters (while Reacher stumbels over one of them in the dark somewhere between Despair and its much more appealing neighbour Hope) and the fanaticism of Despair’s citizen number one who plans to start apocalypse with an atomic bomb.

And the book also shows one of the dark sides of the wars that the US is involved through the husband of Reachers sidekick.

Gone tomorrow

Reacher is in New York and thinks a woman in the subway will execute an attack. But when he addresses her she “only” shoots herself. Soon Reacher – and the reader – gets to know that a military career can also lead to a political one as well as a trying to find out about a young woman claiming to be Ukrainian and to have an American father and that there is a lot of fuss to be made to achieve a certain picture on a certain USB-stick. Everything dissolves into a mother always doing everything to save her child (even if she gave him away after birth) – even high treason – and that one should always fear women – especially Afghanian tribes women trying to shut away certain information forever.

Worth dying for

Reacher sometimes seems to have a moral kodex of his own, but still he’s also willing to follow this kodex always even if it means to exercise lynch law. On his way to Virginia to meet a woman (we will meet her in the sixth book mentioned here) he passes trough Nebraska and only drives the drunken doctor the a woman with a broken nose. Because of his experience he gets very soon that her husband abuses her which gets him even the more angry. By breaking his nose in return he becomes the target of the rest of the clan and also their excuse why a shipment isn’t there yet. The trouble he gets because of this only makes him stay longer and drawing the right conclusions from the information he gets about the familiy owning the transportation company keeping all surrounding farmers hostage and a girl missing decades ago. The events lead to the revenge for nearly fifty brutally killed girls and the relief of all families living nearby.

A wanted man

On his way Reacher is hitchhicking and gets involved in a case of kidnapping and carjacking. With his recently broken nose and his overall appearance he soon becomes a target himself because the Police and FBI can’t be sure if he’s involved into a murder in a small town merely consisting of two crossing streets or not. Everything gets even more strange when it turns out that the kidnapped woman was actually the emergency contact for one of the kidnappers. Unfortunatelly the man working under cover is still with the “bad guys” and has to be saved.

Never go back

Reacher finally gets to meet the woman, Major Turner, boss of the 110th MP that he has founded back in his military days, but not as expected. As he reaches Virginia he is told that she was put under arrest for corruptibility and that he himself is put back into the army and is accused in two cases: murder (or hurting someone that bad that he dies ten years later) and a paternity suit. When he also gets arrested for attacking Turner’s lawyer he breaks out of military “custody” and takes Turner with him. He doesn’t run as expected. Yes, of course he runs, but to Los Angeles to find out about the law cases himself and how they are connected to Turner’s. So he also gets to know a girl that’s closest to be his daughter than it could get – if he had children at all – and tries to imagine a life with Turner, who turns out to be “all he ever wanted”. Back at Washington they figure out that it was all because of an high society opium den and that the both men behind everything prefer to go “like gentlemen” rather than being caught.

So there’s only one thing left. How will life go on for Reacher and Turner? They detected that their ways to live are too different so they part and Turner returns to her desk at the MP base and Reacher is again on his way.

Summary

Though I didn’t choose the books myself I enjoyed reading them. It was a completely new genre for me, but Child writes that much captivating that I often regretted it that I had to get out of the train/bus/tram (I only read the novels on my daily way to work). But I also have to admit that I usually rather disliked Reacher for his philosophy of life. Still I liked the fact that he always stands up for what is right and helps those who are in need of help.

Beyond

I apologize to make you read about those six novels before I finally explain to you why they are a legacy to me, but it was easier this way.

A fellow student and friend of my mother died two years ago in her early fifties. I knew her since I was little and even now I would suddenly think of situations with her that had a highly impact on my life. She read a lot, especially a lot in English, and had ordered these very same novels. As I don’t want to write down here every detail lets just say that she never got to open the parcel and her father wondered what to do with the books. As he knew from my mother that I also read a lot he gave them to me.

It might appear strange but reading the books for her became an important part of my own grieving process. I wondered why she had chosen these books of the series, if she would have laughed or cried at the same parts, enjoyed reading them at all…

My original plan included to be finished within a year starting from the first of August in 2017, but it took me until this week to complete the task. Along the way I learned a lot and experienced a lot of other life changes and it was important that I took the time I needed rather than rushing over it. And sometimes I sit down and wonder what a conversation between the both of us would be by now about life, travelling and the books we both read.

Started: 1.8.17 Finished: 26.3.19

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