In the latest from author Lee Child, Jack Reacher is on a sort of hitchhiking trip across America. Near the midpoint in Colorado, he comes to a pair of towns named "Hope" and "Despair". And the two are aptly named. Hope is a thriving little community, bustling with small town business. When Reacher goes into the local diner for a cup of coffee, he's accosted by four thugs who question him about what he's doing and where he's going, and get him thrown in jail for vagrancy. Ultimately, the local cops kick him out of town and tell him to never come back. Of course, the ever-obstinate Reacher can't resist wondering why everyone in Despair is so anxious to keep outsiders away and begins to investigate. He discovers that the town's sole employer has an enormous processing plant on the outskirts of town, alongside a military base. The combination of the MPs, the local police, the entire population of Despair, and an enormous wall surrounding the plant makes for too much security for a legitimate business. Is the plant polluting or is it a distribution center for drugs? Jack needs to know before he can move on. He's befriended by a female police officer from Hope, whose husband was severely disabled in Desert Storm. It takes a total commitment from both of them to discover the truth that lies hidden behind those walls.
This book was a disappointment. The plot takes more than half the book before we come close to finding anything significant. Jack's multiple surreptitious forays into Despair, the non-stop Alpha Male attitude, and the implausible fight scenarios were just so much boilerplatemilitary fiction that distracted from the story. And then, the final payoff was a let-down. I've enjoyed several Jack Reacher novels, but this one never made me care.
Rainbo Electronic Reviews published this review in our August, 2008 issue.
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