I read this book about 16-Jul-2017. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2004. This note was last modified Tuesday, 18-Jul-2017 18:48:32 PDT.
This is book 8 of the "Jack Reacher" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Much better than the previous one I read. And while this is #8 in the series in publication order, it's #1 currently in chronological order; it's a prequel set before all the others.
Time is weird. This is explicitly set in 1989 and 1990 (starts on New Year's Eve), but was published in 2004. The first book in the series was published in 1997, so this is set rather far in time from that, too.
It's a big, complex plot. Things start going badly wrong for the criminals with a natural death, which they then complicate by committing three murders. At the end of the book, Jack Reacher commits one more, though nobody but the readers will ever know.
This is the New Year's when the Berlin Wall came down. For some time before this, the Army has been sensing massive change coming. The Armor people know their M1 Abrams tanks are too big to ship around the world fast, and require either unimproved bare land or else very strong roads and bridges. And they are horrendously expensive. Better than anything at their job, but when we're not facing the Russians across the Fulda Gap, it's not clear they have a job any more; kind of like battleships after Pearl Harbor.
So the Armor establishment, being hard-charging people used to flattening their opposition, make a plan. Their plan includes using lots of dirt they know on key players, but also includes an actual hit list.
Two of the members of this group are also gay, and in a relationship. One thing that sets things down such a bad track is that the ranking officer dies in bed with a gay side lover rather than his regular gay relationship. (This is long enough ago that being gay in the military was illegal, remember.) This pisses off his regular partner.
A copy of the agenda for the meeting to agree to this plan is lost. The agenda has all the criminal stuff in it. So the people get very active trying to find it.
Meanwhile, Reacher has been grabbed out of Panama where he was heavily involved in the hunt for Noriega, and made Military Police Executive Officer at Fort Bird. The commander is absent, so he's in charge. The case of the dead general lands on his desk shortly after he gets there.
Turns out a lot of MP officers in his special detachment (with army-wide jurisdiction) have been shuffled around weirdly, with orders that appear to be forged. They turn out to come from the Army Chief of Staff, but it takes him a while to figure that out. He expected some unrest and wanted the right people there to handle it, to find out what was really going on.
He solves it all, while dealing with his mother's death, finding a new lover who he never sees again after this, and bouncing around the world (Germany, France, DC, California). At the end he takes a bump down to captain and expulsion from the special detachment, rather than claim that a gay Delta Force officer lied in a brutality complaint against him. He really had badly damaged the owner of a bar who wasn't cooperative and came out to attack him, and it was partly based on his misunderstanding the situation, but I read this as being partly about him wanting to get away from that level of political problem in his work.
So, I'm definitely looking for more in the series. We'll see how they hold up.