Wherever Jack Reacher goes – and that covers some pretty interesting and dangerous ground – Bob Moyer isn’t far behind. Here’s his review of No. 24 in the Reacher series.
BLUE MOON. By Lee Child. Delacorte Press. 356 pages. $28.99.
Reviewed by Robert P. Moyer
PFHHT! BLAM! THUD! THUNK! SNAP! CRACK! AIEEE!
Did you hear about the hockey game where a prizefight broke out? Well, just a few pages into the latest Jack Reacher novel, it feels like a comic book breaks out… Neither the reader nor Reacher realizes that when he follows an old man off a bus to keep him from getting mugged for his money, he’s stepping into a graphic novel about a gang war. Within pages, the piling up of bodies gives “streaming” a new meaning, and black suits, black ties and black limousines fill the pages. Two gangs, one Ukrainian, one Albanian control the city.
The old man owes a lot of money to the Ukrainians, Jack learns, and since Jack can’t help helping out, he goes to repay the money. After he does, a couple of enforcers give him a ride. Jack comes back; they don’t. Now, the Ukrainians had just offed a couple of Albanians, so they think it’s retribution. Two Albanians die, and from then on its tit for rat-a-tat-tat. The gangs go berserk in a Clint Eastwood make-my-day kind of comedy, definitely not the Keystone Cops kind. Of course, Jack can’t leave the old man and his wife in danger, now that the gangs think he’s the old man. And the old couple needs money, which Jack thinks he can find hidden inside one of the Gang’s fortresses. His campaigns to protect and pry money give the author ample opportunity to find unique ways for Reacher to dispatch the bad guys.
Along the way, Jack ties up with an ex-tank commander, an infantryman, a Marine and a waitress. The waitress is a performance artist, who freely demonstrates for Jack that her performance is an art. With their combined skills and Reacher’s logistics, they take on two gangs and come out on top – of course. As Jack says, “Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.”
At the heart of all the violence here is Jack’s philosophy of his survival, that he has “…some kind of a wide-open portal in his head, a wormhole to humanity’s primitive past, where for millions of years every living thing could be a predator, or a rival and therefore had to be assessed, and judged, instantly and accurately. Who was the superior animal?…” The answer at the end of this 24th novel in the series is clear.