Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money. And Edward Lane, the amn who paid it, will pay even more to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any amount of money and any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And then, eh'll turn Jack Reacher loose with avengeance--because Reacher is the best man hunter in the world.
flap copy THE HARD WAY by Lee Child (Delacorte:2006)
Drinking espresso in NYC, Reacher sits...watching. Possibly, even relaxing. Yah, that's not gonna last. Soon he's helping a man whose wife and daughter have been kidnapped. This man knows how to wage war, but all-out war will only get them killed. What he needs is a hunter, an investigator; what he thinks he has is a man he can control.
Lee Child website
Jack Reacher, Lee Child's serial hero, savouring an espresso in a cafe in New York, sees a man drive a car away. When he goes back to the same cafe the next day, he is approached and questioned, and allows himself to be drawn into the affairs of a gang of mercenary warriors. The car had been loaded with a $1 million ransom and driven away by the kidnappers who had taken the mercenary chief's trophy wife. By the time it's over, after several sharp plot twists, he's in a gunfight and burying bodies with a backhoe.
Child is a skilled writer, without literary pretensions. His novels are all plot and pace, appealing to fans of suspense and action thrillers, military fiction and tough-guy detective fiction. Jack Reacher used to be an officer in the US Army Military Police, who lives on the road, with the clothes on his back, the money in his pocket, his strength, and his wits. He vaguely resembles John D. MacDonald's legendary Travis McGee, who lived on a houseboat, but Reacher is rootless.
He is more like a character from a spaghetti western, an ominous drifter who breaks the law, but honours a higher law. In real life, the detachment is usually found only in monks, and the violence in serial killers. A man with Reacher's code of honour can't exist outside of a social setting. A man who cares for others will have a different kind of life. This kind of novel appeals more to fantasies of power and freedom than to social values, although there is a chivalrous ethic at work.
Tony Dalmyn at Blogcrritics
Reacher is in New York, living as anonymously as he always has, with no drivers’ license, no place to call home, no possessions except for the clothes on his back and the toothbrush in his pocket. And, of course, the shoes on his feet, which play a surprisingly large role in his story. Reacher is enjoying a double espresso when he witnesses something entirely ordinary: a man getting into a car. Being Reacher, he remembers everything about this event: the clothes the man was wearing, the make of the car, even the license plate number. But he thinks nothing of it until he returns to the same café the next day for another double espresso, and a man asks him questions about what he saw.
Reacher finds himself drawn into a desperate fight to retrieve the kidnapped wife and stepchild of a former soldier now turned mercenary, Edward Lane, a man who seems to be addicted to adventure, violence, and wealth. He is surrounded by a group of men in his own mold, most from the highest level of soldier in their countries of origin – Navy Seals, Special Forces, the hardest, toughest guys. They’re soldiers with a bit of a taint on them; maybe they got a bit too enthusiastic about their jobs, maybe they are the sorts of men who were at Haditha or My Lai. And their toughness has changed; they have softened a bit in their physical capabilities, and toughened in their mental and ethical acceptance of extreme violence as a means of making money. This group is essentially one of bullies, with their leader the biggest bully of all – but one whose wife is missing.
Reacher investigates, but his investigation isn’t of the kidnapping alone. Instead, he looks hard at Lane, who lost his first wife through a kidnapping and has a dubious past and present. He watches as Lane pays a ransom without flinching, despite the large sum demanded. He asks questions, finds witnesses, talks to those who know and those who don’t. He picks up friends and makes enemies, as he always does, and doesn’t take any garbage from anyone.
Review by Terry Weyna in Trashotron.com