Jack Reacher Works Alone. That Doesn’t Imply His Creator Has To.
There are those of us who have always enjoyed the idea of Reacher wandering off into another little nowhere, finding someone in need, fixing things up, having the coffee, and strolling on. Not this time. Reacher doesn’t even arrive alone. He drives with a traveling insurer and then falls straight into a trap for Rusty Rutherford, a newly unemployed IT manager. And that’s about as much of a walk as it is in this town, although Reacher 1.0 preferred long hikes that reassured readers. Of course, he finds local problems, and he can see it – oh boy – “as clearly as if a sky scribe had written it with white smoke.” The Childs also need to return to Lee’s sharp writing game.
The best thing about “The Sentinel” is the amount of action it generates, as the boring sounding area of Pleasantville is full of generic places: gas station, coffee shop, diner, endless motel rooms, storage bins, urban offices, apartments, houses, dumpsters, etc. There’s also a very non-generic place called Spy House which seems to be all the intrigue a little castle needs. But no. The authors have added many, many levels of action to the point where three books seem condensed into one. We’ll see how well a MacGuffin plays with Russian electoral influence in a book due out October 27th.
Reacher’s too busy doing it. Presumably, it is Andrew who turns much of Reacher’s thinking into chatter, turning every fight into a multi-sided affair, and drawing undue attention to Reacher’s intrinsic genius for geometry and physics. (Lee’s tricks were smarter and faster.) And I have no idea why Reacher has to shop so much this time, but he does. To be fair, the tape is used.
One goal of “The Sentinel” is to bring the big guy into the tech world. Much can be made of the fact that in this book he has to use a cellphone and figure out what servers are. But the additions replace the series’ quaint touches that had their worth. It was always a pleasure to watch Reacher expand a new motel room, discover the cleanest woman in town, shovel down the Trencherman’s breakfast, and then cut 200,000 calories during his day. This time he drives, fights, asks questions, ends chapters with cliffhangers, and sets traps. It’s not the simple life that we all loved. It’s also not driving enough to go beyond the plot.