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by Lee Child and Andrew Child
Delacorte Press, October 2023
304 pages
ISBN: 1984818589

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In THE SECRET, the latest Jack Reacher thriller from Lee Child and his writing partner Andrew Child, we are back with Jack in 1992. This was a time when he was still an MP in the army and had not yet started his iconic journey around the country with only a toothbrush and his wits.

Reacher is ordered by the government to join a task force investigating a string of murders. Scientists who worked in a secret program decades earlier in India are being systematically murdered. Each murder had been meticulously planned and was made to appear as a possible suicide. Reacher, US Army, is together with representatives of other branches of government—the FBI, the CIA and the Treasury. They must discover why these men are being targeted and try to save the ones who might be next.

Right from the start, Reacher believes that Christopher Baglin, Department of Defense, who leads the group, is not giving them the full story. Charles Stamoran, the Secretary of Defense, seems to be the person with the most to lose if the group of scientists reveal some secret information. Each time a scientist dies, he receives a secret phone message about the murder. He seems fearful for himself, but he is concerned also about his wife, Susan Kasluga, who is the founder and CEO of a huge chemical company. Does he fear she will perhaps be collateral damage, or is there more to his concern? We learn that they both had connections to that chemical plant in India. Then later we learn that an awful accident occurred at the plant.

Although Reacher and his teammates do not know the perpetrator of the murders, the reader soon gets to see the killings and who is doing them. We watch with horror as sisters Veronica and Roberta Sanson carry out a series of elaborately planned murders. Each time, they ask their victim the same question: “Who was the 8th man?” Neither the reader nor Reacher's team understand why the scientists have been targeted nor do we know why the name of the last person is so important.

Eventually, we understand who the sisters are, why they are so capable, and why they have undertaken this killing spree. Surprises are in store for Reacher and for the reader as this exciting novel draws to its unexpected conclusion.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, October 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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