Night School by Lee Child

Reviewed by Richard Goldman
Hardcover November 2016

"Not exactly disappointed" would, I suppose, be my review-in-three-words for the new Jack Reacher book.

Child moves the action back to 1996, a time when Reacher was still a major in the military police. He also brings back Frances Neagley, a wonderful character who appeared in several earlier books. Here, of course, she's still in the army, serving as Reacher's sergeant, and still as Reacher describes her, "sometimes scary."

Unlike earlier Reacher books we don't begin with a particularly puzzling mystery. In fact, the first part of the book feels like a pretty tired terrorism thriller as Reacher, teamed up with a CIA guy and an FBI guy (they had names and everything but I can't remember anything about them), hustle to foil a plot by Middle Eastern bad guys to buy some awful McGuffin from an American for $100 million.

As the action shifts to Germany the pace picks up, Reacher and Neagley are more on their own and you begin to get the experience of a real Reacher novel.

I admire Child for moving outside of the formula that characterizes his earlier books but honestly, Reacher had good reasons for leaving the Army and it's part of his appeal.