Never Go Back by Lee Child – book review

by Amelia Gordon

Never Go Back

It is certainly easy to understand why readers become addicted to the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Lee Child ( the pen name of Jim Grant) is a British native who worked as a presentation director at Grenada TV in Manchester, England in the golden years of Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. When he was laid off in a corporate restructuring in 1995, he made lemonade out of lemons and created his wandering warrior Jack Reacher in the first book The Killing Floor. Wildly successful with this book, he has gone on to write 18 books in the  Reacher series.

The fictional Jack Reacher is a former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps, who was laid off at age 36, and roams the United States taking odd jobs and investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations. He is 6 foot 5 inches, well muscled in spite of a terrible diet and his motto is strike first and strike hard. He is the quintessential “tough guy” out to render justice.

In this book, Reacher hitchhikes and buses all the way from the snows of North Dakota to meet the new commanding officer of his former unit, Susan Turner. He liked her voice in a telephone conversation and wanted to ask her out, says he (improbably for anyone except Reacher). When he arrives, Someone else is occupying Turner’s office, she has been arrested and Reacher sets out to set her free and to clear her name, as well as his own. Someone very senior has a deep, destructive secret and wants Turner and Reacher out of the way.

A Jack Reacher novel is brim full of excitement, confrontations and sinister characters. The chapters are usually short, just the right length to read before putting out the light at bedtime. You know how you flip through the pages deciding whether you can finish a chapter before lights out. They have an authentic feel due to their attention to detail, particularly Reacher’s attention to detail, such as the distinctive sound of a certain closing door. Mr. Child feels like an insider in the American Military although he is a Brit who did not establish residence in the United States until 1998 (his wife is from New York).  He describes novels as the “purest form of entertainment” and entertain he does.Sit down with this book on a Saturday in front of the fire, and you may not get up until the wee hours.