Hitching rides is an unreliable mode of transport. That's Jack Reacher's conclusion. He's adrift in the fearsome heat of a Texas summer, and he needs to keep moving. The last thing he's worried about is exactly who picks him up.
Jack Reacher is Spenser before Robert Parker domesticated his Boston PI--in fact, Reacher's even tougher than Hawk. He can inhale and exhale a few times and pump up his muscles so they make a bad character think twice about tangling with him. And he's spent enough time on the right side of the law to know how to operate in the gray zone if that's what it takes to save the fair maiden, punish the bad guys, and right any other wrongs he happens to encounter in the course of his wanderings. Echo Burning
is vintage Lee Child, a smartly paced, intricately plotted, and masterfully characterized thriller starring Reacher, the ex-military cop who's so concerned about commitment to anything--a woman, possessions, a permanent address--that he only owns the clothes on his back. But he's the kind of justice-seeking guy you'd want on your side, especially if you were an abused wife trapped in a marriage you can't get out of until, and unless, somebody bumps off your old man.
Reacher's sympathetic, but he's not crazy. Nonetheless, he allows himself to be drawn into beautiful Carmen Greer's orbit, which ought to teach a guy not to hitchhike. Agreeing to protect her from the husband who's about to be released from jail and, according to Carmen, who's about to pay her back for tipping off the authorities to the tax fraud that landed him in prison, Reacher moves into the bunkhouse of the Echo, Texas, ranch that's owned by the bigoted, bitter, but powerful Greer family, which despises Carmen because she's Mexican and tolerates her only because she's Sloop Greer's wife and the mother of his child. The expected bloodshed ensues, but it's Sloop, not Carmen, who ends up with a bullet in his head. Reacher's convinced that Carmen acted in self-defense, even after other evidence comes to light that suggests there's more--and less--to her unhappy tale than even her own lawyer believes. This is the best Jack Reacher yet, smart, stylish, and convincing. If it's your first encounter with Child's work, be sure to check out his backlist--Running Blind, Tripwire, etc. --Jane Adams