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Bookends: High-octane adventure complicates a road trip October 16, 2014

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: High-octane adventure complicates a road trip

By Dan DavidsonA Wanted Man

April 2, 2014

– 757 words –


A Wanted Man

By Lee Child


624 pages



Jack Reacher was heading for Virginia, in search of the face behind the nice voice and agreeable intelligence that had assisted him during a recent adventure. He had a name and a location at the military base, and that was all, really. When he stuck out his thumb that night he wasn’t sure he’d get a ride. He was looking rough after the last few days. His broken nose hadn’t healed and he hadn’t had the opportunity to buy a change of clothes. He was surprised when the Chevy stopped to pick him up.

There are three people inside; two men in front, a woman in the back, all wearing the same sort of shirt, like they were part of a company group off to a convention or something. They’re going to Chicago, which is on his way, so that’s fine. There’s a funny feeling about the set up, but hitchhikers can’t be too choosy.

A little earlier three men had gone into a concrete bunker-like abandoned pump house near a small town. Only two had come out of the bunker and they were in a hurry. There was an eyewitness who called the county sheriff, Victor Goodman, who lived up to his name and found the body inside. It looked to him like a professional hit so he called the FBI and set up roadblocks. That’s when things started to happen.

About an hour later Special Agent Julia Sorenson arrives from Omaha, Nebraska. She is 47 years old and very professional.

Reacher, Goodman and Sorenson are the three narrative viewpoints we get to follow for about half of the book, as the plot thickens.

The woman in the car is Karen Defuesno, a waitress at a diner not far from the old pump house. It’s her car and she’s been kidnapped by the guys in the front. They swapped a hot looking red sedan for her more sedate looking Chevy and are using her to keep from being spotted as two guys on the run. Picking up Reacher was just bonus set decoration.

Eventually the driver gets tired and asks Reacher to take a turn. While he can see the rear view mirror, Defuesno manages, by means of an elaborate eye blink code, to tell him she’s been kidnapped. Reacher begins to wait for chances to do something about that.

Meanwhile Sorenson and Goodman are having to deal with a bunch of other federal agents (CIA?) who turn up and complicate things back near the original crime scene. Defuesno’s young daughter disappears, and the eye witness vanishes and things get very murky back in Goodman’s patch.

Eventually the three narratives run together and we begin to follow Reacher’s point of view exclusively. By that time Homeland Security is involved, Reacher is a wanted man (hence the title), Sorenson is in trouble with her boss in Omaha, and Defuesno turns out to be an undercover operative.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you, which is fair, because it’s not even a third of the plot twists that happen in this book before we get to the end. As sometimes happens in Child’s novels, this one takes place at a breakneck speed and takes us through only a few days before it’s all wrapped up.

There are car chases, escapes, gunfights, home invasions, and an assault on a fortified base before the story concludes.

But wait – as the commercials sometimes say – there’s more. Child is telling Reacher’s saga out of order, jumping around in time and location and sometimes using either first or third person narrative techniques. At the back of this book is a Reacher short story called “Deep Down”, taking us back to his days as an MP in the Army. There’s some kind of leak within the military related to a weapons procurement committee that is meeting to decide on a new purchase.

Reacher’s assignment is to join that committee and find out who the leak is. When one of the committee members is killed in a freak traffic accident the job either gets easier or harder, but there’s no way to know which until it’s almost too late.

I gather the Tom Cruise movie based on One Shot was a financial success, but this one would be hard to adapt. There’s a lot of interior pondering in this story and that usually doesn’t translate well to the big screen.





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