13 September, 2012

#BookReview :: The Affair (Jack Reacher #16) by Lee Child

Everything starts somewhere. . . .For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A cover up. A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington. Reacher is ordered undercover—to find out everything he can, to control the local police, and then to vanish. Reacher is a good soldier. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control. Local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux has a thirst for justice—and an appetite for secrets. Uncertain they can trust one another, Reacher and Deveraux reluctantly join forces. Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission, and turn him into a man to be feared.

This story is set in 1997 and it takes us back to a younger Jack Reacher who is still with the military. When a dead body turns up pointing fingers to a soldier from a nearby military base, Jack Reacher is sent undercover to a small town in Mississippi. At the same time another MP is officially sent to the base to investigate the case. Reacher is wary from the beginning and his wariness is not without reason. In this small sleepy town not everything as it seems. There has been more than one murder, soldiers on the base may be involved in military activities that are not publicly known and the local Sheriff may not be what she claims to be either…

Jack Reacher is a class act and he is the only character with the ‘larger than life’ feel that I believe in. The six feet five inches tall, weighing between a hundred and hundred fifty pounds – Jack Reacher is a MP who can not only take out several opponents singlehandedly, but also has excellent deduction skills. Once again his power of deduction, physical strength and alertness is put to test. There is this particular situation where Reacher inspects a destroyed car for clues that is absolutely amazing. Also, for the first time, I felt that there was a character who could truly match Reacher in his skills, strengths and thirst for justice. Elizabeth Deveraux is that character. She is almost a female version of Jack Reacher himself. She is an ex-marine who has already put in a good number of years in service and thus has the experience and knowledge herself. She is ‘finds out’ Reacher immediately and though they do not trust each other at the beginning, as they work together they do develop a mutual respect.

As a plot, it is the traditional ‘who-dun-it’ sort. As the story progresses more than one suspect are revealed so that the readers are bound to play the guessing game. But yes, it is not as complex as some other Reacher novels. A few familiar names/faces turned up in this book including Francis Neagley – who I have a soft spot for. This book also tells us how and why Reacher left the military and became a ‘drifter’. Without giving out any obvious spoilers - during the course of the plot, situations arise when he questions the military policies and has conflicts with his superiors. But ultimately his adherence to truth makes him take some truly drastic measures.

If you have read a Jack Reacher novel before, then you always pick up the latest book with certain expectations. With Lee Child’s consistency, with each novel your level of expectation rises higher and higher. So when I picked up this 16th novel in the Jack Reacher Series (this must be my 11th or 12th time reading a  Jack Reacher), I picked it up with much trepidation. Will he be able to maintain his quality? Oh well, I need not have worried… Lee Child has simply done it again with extra kudos for the character of Elizabeth Deveraux.

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