I read this book about 30-Jul-2017. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1997. This note was last modified Wednesday, 02-Aug-2017 20:27:15 PDT.
This is book 1 of the "Jack Reacher" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
The actual first Jack Reacher book. Comes with a retrospective forward by the authr, too.
He constructed Reacher deliberately, and in accordance with theories about what would make a good series character for the mass audience. Also he wrote the novel when he needed money, and apparently sold it fast enough to actually get money when he needed it. This is essentially impossible, by the way, and people shouldn't try to do it.
I still don't really believe in Reacher wearing clothes three or four days and then replacing them. He works too hard, they'd be dirty and bad-smelling before then, and he showers and things regularly, he seems to care about being clean. But it fits the author's model
Also, his knowing how to drive but not owning or wanting to own a car thuds badly for an American. The author is English, and apparently just doesn't get this about Americans. An American drifter, especially, would absolutely have a car. Without a car, he's not mobile at all, he's stuck. Reacher's casual use of Greyhound and walking a dozen miles simply doesn't ring true.
The plotting is first-rate in this. There are many pinball-bumper bounces, where some fact newly discovered sends everything off rapidly in a new direction.
Reacher starts by being arrested for a murder he had nothing to do with. He doesn't worry much, he has an iron-clad alibi; although the chief is a typical corrupt southerner. The rest of the department, for some reason, is unusually good, though. By the end, Reacher is essentially running the investigation, with the support of two of the people in the local police, and the FBI agent they started out asking for help turns out to be a crook, and Reacher has to shoot him (twice; I mean on two occasions, he didn't do it well enough the first time).
There are many layers of nice twists and turns. Turns out Reacher's brother was murdered there, only hours before Reacher showed up. He was an investigator for the Treasury Department, and what he was chasing was a major international counterfeiting ring (the brother had previously mostly put domestic counterfeiting out of business by controlling the ink and paper well enough). This international ring has assembled 40 million dollars in one-dollar bills, to bleach and use the paper to print hundred-dollar bills. They have a cotton bleaching plant in Venezuela they can use for this.
The whole town's political structure is caught up in the counterfeiting ring.
There's a weird bit where Reacher ends up with a .44 mag Desert Eagle, one of the long-barreled ones. A bit inconvenient, but reliable, and certainly powerful. But not even a .44 mag blows people out of their shoes, and a long-barreled semi-auto .44 mag is huge and heavy and abosrbs recoil in the mechanism, and simply doesn't have punishing recoil (especially for a 6 foot 5 inch guy in superb physical condition with huge experience firing guns).