Lee Child annoyed some readers by ending his masterpiece “61 Hours” with ‘to be continued’. In this sequel, nothing about this adventure is mentioned, except for Jack Reacher (JR)’s severe muscle stress and pain in arms and shoulders from his narrow escape from a deep WW II underground storage facility in South Dakota.
Thumbing his way to Virginia, JR overnights in a motel in a remote Nebraska county long terrorized by the Duncan family, who run a transport company. For decades they have monopolized moving crops to market, charging crippling tariffs. In the first 100 pages, JR dispatches three of their 10 ex-football player enforcers and bodyguards to hospital and lengthy rehabilitation. But why is so much muscle needed for a seasonal job? The Duncan’s are bleeding the county’s farmers white, but surely they must have another line of business, source of income. How else can they afford year-round protection?
The Duncan’s soon turn out to be part of a long supply chain involved in the import and trade in forbidden items or controlled substances into the USA, moved further south by criminal gangs. What the substance is, is for readers to find out. But a delayed shipment’s arrival from Canada attracts three pairs of out of state goons to rural Nebraska. They are Italian, Arab, and Iranian.
JR is at his best in this book, outpunching and outsmarting his direct opponents, relying on logical thinking, induction, deduction, probability and combat experience. He also slowly solves the disappearance, 25 years earlier, of the adopted 8-year old daughter of the woman who cooks him a solid breakfast when he is forced to go on the run in flat, cold, thinly-populated Nebraska. Fabulous piece of writing, every word and sentence in the right place.