Personal - Lee Child

Reacher is back & as usual, gets dragged into something against his better judgement. Someone took a shot at the President of France & suddenly, it's his problem. General Tom O'Day breaks the news they've whittled down the the list of snipers capable of the impossible shot. One of them is a former member of the US military who Reacher put in jail 15 years ago. And he just got out. Worse, O'Day is convinced he was practicing for the upcoming G8 summit in London.

Reacher has never liked O'Day but owes his assistant a favour so agrees to hunt down John Kott, the suspected shooter. When he & Casey Nice, on loan from the CIA, search Kott's house, all they find is a firing range & hundreds of pictures of Reacher. It just got personal. 

Despite feeling like bait, Reacher & Nice head to London with no official status. Pretty soon they're not only tracking Kott but fending off 2 street gangs that control the city's east end. Flying under the radar of the British Secret Services is proving to be a challenge.

I like Reacher. Child has been pumping these out since 1997 & this is #19 so I'm not alone (just don't ask me to watch the movie starring the diminutive Tom Cruise). The book is written in the first person so we get to hang out in Reacher's head, listening in on his sardonic comments & wry observations in short, choppy sentences. But we're not privy to all his thoughts. This is evidenced by a nice little twist at the end, something you didn't see coming but in hindsight, all the clues were there. Don't feel bad. He's just smarter than you.

Once in London, the peripheral cast boils down to gang bangers, the ironically named Little Joey & a slightly shady British agent. Whether or not he's on the side of good is debatable. Tension builds & a showdown between Reacher & Kott is inevitable. We logically know our world weary hero will walk away but that doesn't stop the pulse from picking up over the last few chapters as the author constructs a hair raising finale.

The prose is terse & lean without an extra word to be found. Characters are varied & interesting, each with a distinct voice. Nice, in particular, is engaging as a young untried agent looking to make her mark & the dialogue between her & Reacher is both funny & touching.

These books have been called formulaic but there are reasons for their popularity. You know there will be unconscionable bad guys, fist fights, a pretty woman, pancakes & lots of coffee. At some point, Reacher will go shopping for a new set of clothes in which to store his foldable toothbrush. It provides a comfort or familiarity for the reader but all this would quickly lose its' appeal if the stories weren't smart, tightly plotted & featuring a likeable anti-hero you'd want in your corner.

As with all long running series, some are hits & some are misses. This one is a keeper.