Surprise tops nasty surprise when former MP Jack Reacher stalks a nemesis from the past... Wily plotting, swift pacing, mordant wit: Child is one skillful writer...
- Kirkus Reviews
The ultimate loner. An elite ex-military cop who left the service years ago, he’s moved from place to place … without family … without possessions … without commitments. And without fear. Which is good, because trouble—big, violent, complicated trouble—finds Reacher wherever he goes. And when trouble finds him, Reacher does not quit, not once, not ever. But some unfinished business has now found Reacher. And Reacher is a man who hates unfinished business. Ten years ago, a key investigation went sour and Francis Xavier Quinn got away with murder. Now a chance encounter outside Boston’s Symphony Hall brings it all back. Now Reacher sees his one last shot. Some would call it vengeance. Some would call it redemption. Reacher would call it justice.
The cop climbed out of his car exactly four minutes before he got shot. He moved like he knew his fate in advance. He pushed the door against the resistance of a stiff hinge and swiveled slowly on the worn vinyl seat and planted both feet flat on the road. Then he grasped the doorframe with both hands and heaved himself up and out. He stood in the cold clear air for a second and then turned and pushed the door shut again behind him. Held still for a second longer. Then he stepped forward and leaned against the side of the hood up near the headlight.
The car was a seven-year-old Chevy Caprice. It was black and had no police markings. But it had three radio antennas and plain chrome hubs. Most cops you talk to swear the Caprice was the best police vehicle ever built. This guy looked like he agreed with them. He looked like a veteran plain-clothes detective with the whole of the motor pool at his disposal. Like he drove the ancient Chevy because he wanted to. Like he wasn't interested in the new Fords. I could see that kind of stubborn old-timer personality in the way he held himself. He was wide and bulky in a plain dark suit made from some kind of heavy wool. He was tall but stooped. An old man. He turned his head and looked north and south along the road and then craned his thick neck to glance back over his shoulder at the college gate. He was thirty yards away from me.
The college gate itself was purely a ceremonial thing. Two tall brick pillars just rose up from a long expanse of tended lawn behind the sidewalk. Connecting the pillars was a high double gate made from iron bars bent and folded and twisted into fancy shapes. It was shiny black. It looked like it had just been repainted. It was probably repainted after every winter. It had no security function. Anybody who wanted to avoid it could drive straight across the lawn. It was wide open, anyway. There was a driveway behind it with little knee-high iron posts set eight feet back on either side. They had latches. Each half of the gate was latched into one of them. Wide open. The driveway led on down to a huddle of mellow brick buildings about a hundred yards away. The buildings had steep mossy roofs and were overhung by trees. The driveway was lined with trees. The sidewalk was lined with trees. There were trees everywhere. Their leaves were just about coming in. They were tiny and curled and bright green. Six months from now they would be big and red and golden and photographers would be swarming all over the place taking pictures of them for the college brochure.
Twenty yards beyond the cop and his car and the gate was a pick-up truck parked on the other side of the road. It was tight against the curb. It was facing toward me, fifty yards away. It looked a little out of place. It was faded red and had a big bull bar on the front. The bar was dull black and looked like it had been bent and straightened a couple of times. There were two men in the cab. They were young, tall, clean-cut, fair-haired. They were just sitting there, completely still, gazing forward, looking at nothing in particular. They weren't looking at the cop. They weren't looking at me.
I was set up to the south. I had an anonymous brown panel van parked outside a music store. The store was the kind of place you find near a college gate. It had used CDs in racks out on the sidewalk and posters in the windows behind them advertising bands people have never heard of. I had the van's rear doors open. There were boxes stacked inside. I had a sheaf of paperwork in my hands. I was wearing a coat, because it was a cold April morning. I was wearing gloves, because the boxes in the van had loose staples where they had been torn open. I was wearing a gun, because I often do. It was wedged in my pants, at the back, under the coat. It was a Colt Anaconda, which is a huge stainless steel revolver chambered for the .44 Magnum cartridge. It was thirteen and a half inches long and weighed almost four pounds. Not my first choice of weapon. It was hard and heavy and cold and I was aware of it all the time.
I paused in the middle of the sidewalk and looked up from my papers and heard the distant pick-up's engine start. It didn't go anywhere. It stayed where it was, just idling. White exhaust pooled around its rear wheels. The air was cold. It was early and the street was deserted. I stepped behind my van and glanced down the side of the music store toward the college buildings. Saw a black Lincoln Town Car waiting outside one of them. There were two guys standing next to it. I was a hundred yards away but neither one of them looked like a limo driver. Limo drivers don't come in pairs and they don't look young and heavy and they don't act tense and wary. These guys looked exactly like bodyguards.
The building the Lincoln was waiting outside of looked like some kind of a small dormitory. It had Greek letters over a big wooden door. I watched and the big wooden door opened up and a young thin guy stepped out. He looked like a student. He had long messy hair and was dressed like a homeless person but carried a bag that looked like shiny expensive leather. One of the bodyguards stood point while the other held the car door and the young thin guy tossed his bag onto the back seat and slid right in after it. He pulled the door shut behind himself. I heard it slam, faint and muffled from a hundred yards away. The bodyguards glanced around for a second and then got in the front together and a short moment later the car moved away. Thirty yards behind it a college security vehicle snuffled slowly in the same direction, not like it was intending to make up a convoy but like it just happened to be there anyway. There were two rent-a-cops in it. They were slumped down low in their seats and they looked aimless and bored.
I took my gloves off and tossed them into the back of my van. Stepped out into the road where my view was better. I saw the Lincoln come up the driveway at a moderate speed. It was black and shiny and immaculate. It had plenty of chrome on it. Plenty of wax. The college cops were way behind it. It paused at the ceremonial gate and turned left and came south toward the black police Caprice. Toward me.
What happened next occupied eight seconds, but it felt like the blink of an eye.
The faded red pick-up moved off the curb twenty yards back. It accelerated hard. It caught up with the Lincoln and pulled out and passed it exactly level with the cop's Caprice. It came within a foot of the cop's knees. Then it accelerated again and pulled a little ways ahead and its driver swung the wheel hard and the corner of the bull bar smashed square into the Lincoln's front fender. The pick-up driver kept the wheel turned and his foot hard down and forced the Lincoln off the road onto the shoulder. The grass tore up and the Lincoln slowed radically and then hit a tree head-on. There was the boom of metal caving and tearing and headlight glass shattering and there was a big cloud of steam and the tree's tiny green leaves shook and quivered noisily in the still morning air.
Then the two guys in the pick-up came out shooting. They had black machine pistols and were firing them at the Lincoln. The sound was deafening and I could see arcs of spent brass raining down on the blacktop. Then the guys were pulling at the Lincoln's doors. Hauling them open. One of them leaned into the back and started dragging the thin kid out. The other was still firing his gun into the front. Then he reached into his pocket left-handed and came out with some kind of a grenade. Tossed it inside the Lincoln and slammed the doors and grabbed his buddy and the kid by the shoulders and turned them away and hauled them down into a crouch. There was a loud bright explosion inside the Lincoln. All six windows shattered. I was more than twenty yards away and felt every bit of the concussion. Pebbles of glass blew everywhere. They made rainbows in the sun. Then the guy who had tossed the grenade scrambled up and sprinted for the passenger side of the pick-up and the other straight-armed the kid inside the cab and crowded right in after him. The doors slammed shut and I saw the kid trapped in there on the center seat. I saw terror in his face. It was white with shock and right through the dirty windshield I saw his mouth opening in a silent scream. I saw the driver working the gears and heard the engine roaring and the tires squealing and then the truck was coming directly at me.
It was a Toyota. I could see TOYOTA on the grille behind the bull bar. It rode high on its suspension and I could see a big black differential at the front. It was the size of a soccer ball. Four wheel drive. Big fat tires. Dents and faded paint that hadn't been washed since it left the factory. It was coming straight at me.
I had less than a second to decide.
I flipped the tail of my coat and pulled out the Colt. Aimed very carefully and fired once at the Toyota's grille. The big gun flashed and roared and kicked in my hand. The huge .44 slug shattered the radiator. I fired again at the left front tire. Blew it out in a spectacular explosion of black rubber debris. Yards of blown tread whipped through the air. The truck slewed and stopped with the driver's side facing me. Ten yards away. I ducked behind the back of my van and slammed the rear doors and came out on the sidewalk and fired again at the left rear tire. Same result. Rubber everywhere. The truck crashed down on its left-side rims at a steep angle. The driver opened his door and spilled out on the blacktop and scrambled up on one knee. He had his gun in the wrong hand. He juggled it across and I waited until I was fairly sure he was going to point it at me. Then I used my left hand to cradle my right forearm against the Colt's four-pound weight and aimed carefully at center mass like I had been taught a long time ago and pulled the trigger. The guy's chest seemed to explode in a huge cloud of blood. The skinny kid was rigid inside the cab. Just staring in shock and horror. But the second guy was out of the cab and scrambling around the front of the hood toward me. His gun was coming around at me. I swiveled left and paused a beat and cradled my forearm. Aimed at his chest. Fired. Same result. He went down on his back behind the fender in a cloud of red vapor.
Now the skinny kid was moving in the cab. I ran for him and pulled him out right over the first guy's body. Ran him back to my van. He was limp with shock and confusion. I shoved him into the passenger seat and slammed the door on him and spun around and headed for the driver's side. In the corner of my eye I saw a third guy coming right at me. Reaching into his jacket. Some tall heavy guy. Dark clothes. I braced my arm and fired and saw the big red explosion in his chest at exactly the same split second I realized it was the old cop from the Caprice and he had been reaching into his pocket for his badge. The badge was a gold shield in a worn leather holder and it flew up out of his hand and tumbled end over end and landed hard against the curb right in front of my van.
Time stood still.
© Lee Child
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- Persuader is to noir roughly what Paradise Lost was to poetry.
The secret to writing a great scene: Start in the middle of the action, then leave the reader hanging. Child has coupled that formula to a razor-sharp style and crafted seven perfect thrillers. One press clip boasted that he's 'The best thriller writer you're probably not reading—yet.' Time to start. Jack Reacher, his hero, is a former military policeman with a knack for landing in sticky situations. Think Die Hard without the smirk.
- Protagonist ranks with best in genre. They don't come along every day, but once in a while, a new character surfaces as the protagonist in a series of novels to take his place alongside John MacDonald's Travis McGee and Robert Parker's Spenser. Lee Child's Jack Reacher is such a character, and best of all, he keeps getting better.
Reacher is a deeply principled rogue, for whom authority and rules are anathema. His character would almost be a stereotype except that Child has drawn him so precisely that he comes off scary, admirable and likable all at the time...Child has created an altogether satisfying and believable hero with stories that show him off to extraordinary effect and keep the reader turning pages into the wee hours. What more can be asked of an adventure novel?
- [S]ince I find myself raving to everyone I run into about how wonderful Child is, and how much I'm enjoying reading about Jack Reacher, his Travis McGee-like hero (an ex-military policeman, now always on the road, who wanders into trouble wherever he goes), I find that I can't wait any longer to talk about his terrific books. Believe me, if you like fast-moving, high-octane thrillers, with appropriately chilling villains and a super tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold hero, and you demand fiction that's both well-written and impossible to put down, then Child is someone you don't want to miss. . . The thing with Child is, he just gets better and better with every book (Persuader is the best so far)—and how many writers can you make that claim for?
—Nancy Pearl, KUOW Public Radio
- The word thriller is too often used as a kind of catchall, encompassing a wildly diverse group of novels that aren't mysteries exactly but that do generate suspense. Rather than this kitchen-sink approach, why not limit the term to those rare novels that, in fact, deliver thrills, books fueled by a propulsive narrative that compels the reader forward, all systems on overdrive from beginning to end? Stephen Hunter's Bob the Nailer novels are the perfect example of this special breed, but Child's Jack Reacher series can match Bob stride for stride.... The best thrillers run on high-octane narrative fuel, but they are not plot driven. To generate real thrills, an author must put real people behind the wheel, and Child does exactly that. Bones crunch, wounds bleed, and hearts break in this galvanizing tale, but they never do so generically, and the mayhem, both physical and emotional, never feels gratuitous.
—Booklist, starred review
- Surprise tops nasty surprise when former MP Jack Reacher stalks a nemesis from the past...Wily plotting, swift pacing, mordant wit: Child is one skillful writer.
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
- Child is a master of storytelling skills, not least the plot twist, and the opening chapter of this novel spins a doozy, as a high-octane, extremely violent action sequence sees Child hero Jack Reacher rescue a young man, 20-year-old Richard Beck, from an attempted kidnapping before the rug is pulled out from under the reader with the chapter's last line. . . What makes the novel really zing is Reacher's narration—a unique mix of the brainy and the brutal, of strategic thinking and explosive action, moral rumination and ruthless force, marking him as one of the most memorable heroes in contemporary thrillerdom. Any thriller fan who has yet to read Lee Child should start now.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
- Loner and ex-military policeman, Jack Reacher, is back in another action-packed and gritty thriller that grips you by the throat from page one. Persuader has everything thriller fans could ask for and then some: a great lead, wonderful and often quirky secondaries, the nastiest villains, plenty of non-stop action and some unexpected surprises. Don't let Persuader slip you by and don't expect to put this book down until you turn the last page.
With Jack Reacher, we have a true hero and like his landscape—they just don't make 'em like this anymore! Highly Recommended—a top ten definite for 2003 if not #1.
—Ali Karim for Shots—The Crime and Mystery Magazine
- This book was so fast paced it made me dizzy. [L]ike driving 90 miles an hour at night with no lights, trusting that you will get where you are going, but not sure how... It is pure Reacher at his best, and if this is a taste of what is to come from Lee Child, I want more.
—Books 'N Bytes
In short, this is one hell of a thriller.
—S. Weinman, Rec.Arts.Mystery
- Will grip readers from the first page and will further cement Lee Child's reputation as a world-class thriller writer.
Very tense ... real urgency ... a scrupulously structured thriller ... a thrilling and reputable read.
Persuader is Lee Child's best book since Killing Floor and it stacks up well against anything in the genre.
—David Montgomery, Mystery Ink
- What a pleasure to return to Lee Child and his latest Jack Reacher novel, Persuader, which finds our drifting protagonist finally settling the score with a bad guy from Reacher's days in the military police. The first pages are intensely exciting and totally untrue—and boy, do we enjoy being fooled. An absolute heart-stopper from its opening scene to climactic finish.
—Mystery Lovers Bookshop