Jack Reacher Reaches Virginia: Never Go Back

Last year I posed the burning question -Will Jack Reacher ever get to Virginia? https://115journals.com/2012/11/04/jack-reacher-will-lee-child-let-him-get-to-virginia/ I can now answer that question. Yes.

It’s true that three of Lee Child’s Reacher novels – 61 Hours, Worth Dying For and A Wanted Man, describing his circuitous journey through South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, actually took only a matter of days Reacher time, but  it took several years in publishing time and, despite the thrills, seemed endless. In Never Go Back, he actually arrives there.

The novel begins: “Eventually they put Reacher in a car and drove him to a motel a mile away where the night clerk gave him a room, which had all the features Reacher expected, because he had seen such rooms a thousand times before.” The shower would be strangled, the towels thin, the television small and old. In short, he lives in such rooms. As faithful readers know he is in constant motion, travelling by bus and hitched rides across the United States. Earlier I called him a wandering Taoist, unattached to any notion of home. https://115journals.com/2012/06/08/jack-reacher-wandering-taoist/

Shortly after, he is dumped at the cheap motel, a plain dark sedan pulls up and two heavies attempt to persuade him to leave town. “They couldn’t find you before. They won’t find you now. The army doesn’t use skip tracers. And no skip tracer could find you anyway. Not the way you seem to live.” Now here’s a quandary. The guys in the first car have ordered him to stay. But of course, Reacher isn’t about to follow orders any more. He does follow his own rules one of which is “Get your retaliation in first” and soon there are dents to prove it. Such is his welcome to Virginia.

Why was he so intent on getting there? He was following the siren call of a woman’s voice. Not just any woman’s voice, but the competent, risk-taking woman’s voice that has helped him in his travels from South Dakota. His goal is the HQ of 110th MP Special Unit in Rock Creek, a place he knows well since he was its first commanding officer before he quit on principle in 1997, just short of being laterally transferred to the end of the earth. He announces that he is there to see the current CO, Susan Turner and sets the wheels in motion the mayhem that follows.

Turns out that Reacher is still a wanted man: he is wanted for the murder of a gunrunner in Los Angeles 15 years ago and for skipping out on a pregnant lover in Korea, who is now living in a car with her daughter and wants support. Fortunately, the litigant has the wisdom to be living in a car in L.A.

As for Susan Turner, she has vanished from sight and when Reacher tracks her down in a detention facility almost as secret as Gauntanamo, she has left word she doesn’t want to see him. That only encourages him of course.

Turns out her charges are even more serious.

Reacher doesn’t get a glimpse of Susan Turner until a quarter of the way through the book. “She was an inch or two above medium height. She was small-boned and slender, with dark hair pulled back, and tanned skin and deep brown eyes.” He concludes she was well worth the trip. Furthermore she can take care of herself.

It is not brawn but ingenuity that enables them to go on the lam with no papers of their own and a “borrowed” $30. They head for Los Angeles in an attempt to sort out Reacher’s problems before they tackle Turner’s. As they sort his out, they speculate about why they are being targeted and who has the power to pull such strings.

One of the delights of the story is the “daughter”, a 15 year-old who seems as if she should be Reacher’s child. She already has powers of observation well beyond the FBI agents, the Army MPs and the heavies who follow in Reacher’s wake.

The good news is that Reacher’s face doesn’t take on any more damage, but it’s not news at all that he ends up waiting for a bus.

(I read this book on my KIndle.)

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