Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Jack Reacher Finds No Rest in Mother's Rest

Pity poor Jack Reacher. It's like the guy can never get even ten minutes to himself to relax and enjoy life before he stumbles into some grave crisis that only someone as talented as Jack Reacher could ever hope to sort out and set right.

In this case, Reacher is riding in a train through the vast heartland of America, on his way to Chicago. He wants to get to the city before it gets too cold to enjoy it. Out in the middle of nowhere, though, the train stops in a little town called Mother's Rest. Reacher is a curious kind of guy and he wants to know how the town got its name. So he gets off the train, expecting to spend a day or two unraveling the mystery, before continuing on to the Windy City.

As he gets off the train, he's approached by a woman who's obviously expecting to meet someone from the train and who, in the dark, initially mistakes Reacher for her party. She backs off when she realizes her mistake, but Reacher assures her that no other man of his size was even riding on the train, let alone getting off of it. The woman's name is Michelle Chang, and Reacher walks her back to her motel where he takes a room for himself.

But creepy things are afoot in the tiny town and some seriously bad guys are watching Chang's every move. When Reacher accompanies her back to the motel, they automatically assume that Chang was meeting him and that the two are working together. The next day, as Reacher is walking through the town, looking for a monument or something that would explain how the town got its name, the bad guys have a spy dogging Reacher's every step and become convinced that he is assisting Chang in investigating the town's dark secret.

Chang has no clue what that secret might be. She's simply there to meet a fellow investigator who asked for her assistance without explaining the case he was on. Now he's disappeared and Reacher agrees to help Chang look for him. Before long the two are up to their necks in trouble, with the Bad Guys hot on their trail. The search takes them to Chicago, to Arizona and to California and the more they pursue the case, the murkier and the more dangerous it becomes.

Inevitably, there is a lot of action and some great fight scenes. A lesser man would have never made it out of Mother's Rest to begin with, but as every fan of this series understands, Jack Reacher is not a lesser man. It's fun watching Reacher and Chang dig into this ever-expanding conspiracy, and by the time they finally return to Mother's Rest, you know that all hell is about to break loose.

I would argue that the book drags a bit in the second half and it maybe takes a bit too long for the reader to realize the full nature--and the horror--of the problem that Reacher and Chang confront here. But it's a pretty gruesome one, and when push comes to shove, we can all be thankful that Jack Reacher is on the job. This is another very good entry in this popular series.