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Bookends: Do Not Mess with the Special Investigators June 3, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Do Not Mess with the Special Investigators

Bad Luck & Trouble copy

By Dan Davidson

December 19, 2012


Bad Luck and Trouble


Dell Books

512 pages



Jack Reacher is the quintessential loner. He travels with a toothbrush and, since 9/11, his passport. Everything else is replaceable. He wears his clothes until they need washing and then buys new ones (usually second hand), leaving the old in the garbage. He’s been that way since he left the US Army and he’s been wandering about for 10 books now. The story of his adventures has not been told in chronological order, but Lee Child must have some sort of master timeline to help him keep it organized.

He’s a big man, tall and massive, and I have no idea how Tom Cruise is going to manage to play the part in the rumored movie that’s taking shape out there.  Tom’s supposed to be 5 feet, seven or nine inches. Reacher is well over 6’4”.

In the army, Reacher was a military policeman and we’ve seen at least one book that I recall which was set during that period. Reacher has always had authority issues. In the army he had been an officer, a second lieutenant, a lieutenant, a captain, a major, busted back to captain and then promoted again.

It was during that last promotion that he became the leader of a Special Investigations Unit. They were a crack team who earned the unofficial motto “you do not mess with the special investigators”.

But now, someone had messed with them, and at least one of them was dead, dropped out of a helicopter from 3,000 feet and left to land in the desert outside Los Angeles. Calvin Franz had been one of Reacher’s team, along with Tony Swan, Manuel Orozco, Jorge Sanchez, Frances Neagley, Stanley Lowrey, David O’Donnell and Karla Dixon.

It was Frances Neagley who contacted Reacher, using the cute trick of depositing $1030.00 into his strapped bank account. The trick was that 1030 was the MP’s code for urgent assistance needed. Checking with her successful detective agency in Chicago, he found that she would be waiting for him in LA, and that he was the first of his team to respond to the call.

As it turns out, three other members of the team have been killed, though the bodies take a while to turn up. One of them had been investigating something, had called his nearest comrades for assistance, and it had gotten them all killed. That was scary. They had all been very good at what they did, and while they might all have lost a step or two since retiring from the army, they should not have been easy targets.

Both Reacher and Neagley assume that there is some kind of payback operation going on and that all of the old gang might be in peril. So there is vengeance and justice to be meted out, but at the same time they need to watch their backs.

Now, I started out by saying Reacher is a loner. Except for the one book I mentioned, he’s like a cross between Dr. Richard Kimball (the Fugitive), Bruce Banner (the Hulk) and Shane. He arrives, things happen, events explode all over the place and then he leaves the way he came, leaving people to wonder, Lone Ranger fashion, “who was that guy any way?” Every book has a different supporting cast and a different setting. You would never see him as being much of a team player.

In this book Reacher is the leader of a team, feels responsible for people other than himself, has to plan more strategically and delegate actions to members of his team. This gives us a look at a different side of his character and makes us see a bit of who he might have been if events (which we really haven’t been told about) hadn’t caused him to become the drifter that he has been in most of the books.

The mystery in this book probably isn’t as complex as in some of them, but this one is more about the relationships between the members of the team, and that makes this another unusual entry in the Reacher saga. The terrorists and the crooked defense contractors are important to the story, but they’re not really the main event.

The story is bookended by two harrowing scenes in helicopters, and that’s as much as I’m going to tell you. Suffice it to say that the surviving members of the team live up to their motto. I wouldn’t mind seeing the again sometime.





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