four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
56-Jan-Feb-2012
By: 
Lee Child
user_rating: 
0

A Jack Reacher Novel

A-The AffairAward-winning British thriller writer Lee Child returns with the 16th installment in the best-selling Jack Reacher series, after Gone Tomorrow (3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2009), 61 Hours (4 of 5 Stars Selection July/Aug 2010), and Worth Dying For (2010). The Affair is a prequel that begins with Reacher's arrival at the Pentagon, fresh from the army and ready to take on his final military assignment.

The Story: In 1997, Jack Reacher finds himself in Carter Crossing, Mississippi, where three young women have been murdered--and the evidence points to a soldier at a remote military base. As he starts to investigate, Reacher meets his match in local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux, a secretive, beautiful ex-Marine MP. Soon, they establish a shaky trust and start to piece together clues to a scandal involving secret American military activity in Kosovo. Of course, there's also the affair of the title. As it does in previous installments, the investigation takes on a life of its own. But this is no typical Reacher novel: not only is this the first time Reacher goes undercover as a civilian, but, by situating the action in 1997, The Affair also tells the backstory of, well, how Reacher became Reacher.
Delacorte. 416 pages. $28. ISBN: 9780385344326

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"What follows is one of the best Reacher books yet: a murder investigation fraught with political ramifications and a rising body count set at the edge of an isolated Army Ranger base in Mississippi. ... As with all Reacher books, the writing is spare and crisp, with the hero's dialogue comprised of simple declarative sentences piled on top of one another in a style that Ernest Hemingway surely would have approved." Jerry Harkavy

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The Affair cleverly begins at the single most crucial point in Reacher's life: the point at which he had to leave the Army. ... But this book is really about the man himself, and it presents his most colorful appearance in a long time. It establishes Reacher's idealistic but vengeful personality and lays out the rules by which he lives." Janet Maslin

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"The Affair has--despite all the manifest machismo--a distinctly Proustian feel. Reacher is recollecting and re-interpreting a lost period in his life, which turns out to be the key to understanding his mentality." Andy Martin

NPR 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Affair is a return to form and, simply, a lot of fun. One reason? The writing is really good. ... And, for the first time in quite a while, I didn't figure out the ending." Steve Drummond

Critical Summary

Most of the critics opened their reviews by praising Child's Jack Reacher series--and then by noting the possibility that it could go stale. Quickly. ("The Reacher books, like those in many series, had reached an existential shark state: they had to keep moving forward to survive," wrote the New York Times). But Child seems to have largely avoided the sharks by spilling Reacher's never-before-told origin story: namely, why he ended a 13-year career with the military police to start life as the drifter (no ID, no Visa, no change of clothing) we know. The Affair, written with Child's trademark wit, also goes a long way toward explaining Reacher's mentality as it pans back and forth in time, and for this alone it is worth reading. "It could well be his best book yet" (USA Today).