Jack Reacher mystery series continues with ‘One Shot’
“One Shot” by Lee Child
Mystery and detective novels are written by the thousands in America every year. Many are capably done, but provide neither memorable characters nor a sufficiently complex plot to maintain the suspense until the end. Lee Child has accomplished both of those tasks with ease in his books involving Jack Reacher, an ex-military policeman. “One Shot” is the latest in the series. While some of the earlier books were better written and more enjoyable, “One Shot” is a far better example of its type than almost all of the competition.
Reacher was a West Point graduate from a military family and one of the army’s best criminal investigators. During a 14-year career he seemed destined to become a general. After one of his cases resulted in a cover-up, he resigned his commission and literally dropped out. Like Caine in the television series, Kung-Fu, he roams the country owning little and coming to the aid of people in trouble. The acquired skills from his military past come in very handy.
In “One Shot” a former Army sniper is accused of the random massacre of five people. The evidence is complete – the gun, a matching bullet, fingerprints, footprints, clothes, fibers and a loner profile. Reacher also knows that the suspect committed a similar crime during the first Gulf War. That shooting, however, was also covered up because the victims were running a highly illegal enterprise under the cover of their military service.
The sniper will not speak to the police or his appointed attorney except to tell them to find Jack Reacher – which is impossible. Fortuitously, Reacher sees a news broadcast about the shooting and is on his way. He cannot figure out why someone whom he almost convicted of a similar crime now wants him involved. When he arrives, Reacher begins to suspect that the evidence is just too good. Then the suspect is attacked and almost killed in jail. Next, Reacher is the target of surveillance and a clumsy setup. With both his anger and his curiosity aroused, he begins to investigate the investigation. The complexities multiply and the violence escalates as Reacher and his allies are pursued by the police, the district attorney and the real killers.
As with the other books in the series, Reacher solves the case using clues that become obvious to him but keep the reader guessing. The brand of justice he dispenses involves bravery under fire, an expert knowledge of armed and unarmed combat, and a lot of blood. The job complete, he moves on to the next place and the next call for help.
A former television writer, Child’s first book in the Reacher series won every available award for a new mystery. He has not slowed down since. His next book, “The Hard Way,” is due out before Christmas. For me and a lot of other Jack Reacher fans, it can’t get here soon enough.
-Dennis Crabb is a member of Friends of the Library, South Lake Tahoe.
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