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by Lee Child
Delacorte, September 2013
416 pages
ISBN: 0385344341

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

NEVER GO BACK is the title of Lee Child's latest addition to the Jack Reacher series. It is also a warning that Reacher should have heeded. At the start of this novel, the reader might have breathed a sign of relief that this unique drifter had finally gotten to Virginia to see the woman whose phone voice had enchanted him. However, Major Susan Turner is not in her office when Reacher gets there. She has been relieved of her post as commander of the same Military Police unit that Reacher once headed. She has been arrested and is now in jail for financial fraud.

Although he never told anyone he was coming to see Turner, Reacher seems to have been expected. He is immediately charged with a decades-old murder and then with a separate paternity suit. Thugs are sent by some mysterious person or group to encourage him to leave town. These are four young men who, of course, no matter their size and youth, have no chance against Reacher's calm, calculated fighting technique. The dents their bodies make when Reacher throws them against their car helps him identify the car later on other occasions. This physical encounter is not the only one Reacher has, so we get to see him make his famous moves several times, notably once when he offers to fight without using his arms.

Reacher and Turner suspect a criminal enterprise based on transporting items of value, most likely armaments, from Afghanistan. Turner and her men may have gotten too close for someone's comfort. Without giving away too much of this engrossing plot, the pair flee by car and then by plane, at one point driving through the streets of LA in search of clues to the conspiracy that has created criminal scenarios for both of them. All they know is that every piece of information they get, no matter what the source, is instantly compromised and all of their movements are tracked. Whoever is behind this situation is of the very highest level, with access to all of the FBI and other government data systems, the phone systems, and the people who work for Turner. Reacher also goes in search of the fourteen-year-old girl he supposedly fathered and never knew about, adding another layer to his enigmatic character.

By having Reacher arrive in Virginia and connect with Susan Turner, the author has given his readers some relief from the thought that he would never get there. Although this book takes place in the present time of Reacher's life, many past exploits are referred to, events that occurred on his way to Virginia and which have not been covered in previous books. By including these references, Child can go back and fill in the blanks by writing several more Reacher books without the reader feeling that Virginia and the woman are just plot devices to keep Reacher on the road. Since we know that Reacher is not getting any younger, this tactic can assure material for more books--and more Jack Reacher adventures will make all of us Lee Child/Jack Reacher fans extremely happy.

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

Reviewed by Anne Corey, August 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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