Never Go Back by Lee Child
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Fair warning! I am a Jack Reacher fan. I have been a Jack Reacher fan from Lee Child’s very first Reacher novel. I have LOVED 17 out of 18 of these books, and felt differently about the one only because it just got too political for my taste. But overall, I wouldn’t miss a Jack Reacher book for anything. They are marked out on my calendar as far in advance as I can find info on them.
I have seen some reviews complaining that Reacher isn’t “evolving.” To that, I say: HOORAY! I do not want Reacher to evolve. Jack Reacher is a force of nature, and one of those things about which I say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Reacher is well into his 40’s. He isn’t likely to become a different man at this late date. Thank God. If you want someone more sensitive, more in touch with his feminine side, perhaps–look elsewhere. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those kinds of men. I like them, too. But Jack Reacher isn’t one of them.
For those who haven’t read any of these books and only have the images from that recent film, wherein the 6’5″ massive hunk of man that is Reacher was portrayed by a squeaky-voiced, 5’6″ actor who shall go nameless here, let me be clear. Jack Reacher is a giant of a man, whose physical size alone is enough to scare off many would-be foes. BUT. He does not depend on size alone to make his way through each book’s dilemma. Oh, no. While his size and brute strength are prodigious, it’s Reacher’s uncanny way of puzzling out the solution to each mystery that pulls me back every time.
As readers, we are usually given plenty, if not ALL, of the clues to solving whatever predicament is central to each book. But usually, we don’t. Or at least, not completely. The fun of these books is in watching how Reacher does it. He works it out in his mind, carefully considering each remark someone has made, and each clue he has stumbled upon, repeating them over and over, turning them this way and that, and slowly, locking each piece of the puzzle into place. He always knows exactly what has happened before we do, and the big reveal is definitely well worth the wait.
Of course, Reacher has the Military Police procedural background that most of us lack, and a very thorough knowledge of how the Army, specifically, works. And a fairly good understanding of basic human behavior, especially if it’s criminal behavior. Yes, he often leaves mayhem in his wake, and a ton of very sorry Bad Guys bleeding curbside…or worse…but it’s that ability to put it all together that makes these books so much fun to read.
Lee Child does his usual great job on Never Go Back, and he does it with wit and suspense and great story-telling skill. Anyone who expected Reacher to end up sitting by a cozy fire by the end of the book probably hasn’t being paying a lot of attention. Long may he walk the roads of this country, folding toothbrush in his pocket, and stopping only to right the obvious wrongs he sees upon his travels. Sometimes you just need a hero like that, even if only in theory. Probably wouldn’t work out so well in practice, but these are works of fiction. Heroes fight the good fight, regardless of rules, and heroes should win. Every time.
That’s my story, anyway, and I’m stickin’ to it! If you haven’t read any of this series, start with Book 1, Killing Floor. Yes, you can read most as stand-alones, but there are a lot of things that happen as the series progresses that will make future books much easier to understand.
Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel
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