"No," Reacher said. "I don't need a key."
I finished reading ECHO BURNING (2001) by Lee Child last night. I have now read the first thirteen Jack Reacher novels. I didn't read them in the order in which they were written but I have read the following: THE KILLING FLOOR, DIE TRYING, TRIPWIRE, RUNNING BLIND, ECHO BURNING, WITHOUT FAIL, PERSUADER, THE ENEMY, ONE SHOT, THE HARD WAY, BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE, NOTHING TO LOSE and GONE TOMORROW. I highly recommend each and every one of these terrific thrillers.
For those of you who may have come in late, Jack Reacher is one of the great heroes of modern crime fiction. He's an ex-military police officer who is homeless by choice. Reacher wanders the byways and back roads of America and he always manages to find trouble where ever he goes. He has the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes and the fierce, take-no-prisoners physical toughness of Clint Eastwood in his prime. Oh, and did I mention that he's six-foot, five-inches tall and weighs two-hundred-and-fifty pounds? That's a point made in every book.
ECHO BURNING is set in the arid wastelands of West Texas, a landscape that Child does a remarkable job of capturing with vivid and accurate detail. Reacher is picked up in Lubbock by a beautiful young Hispanic woman, Carmen Greer. She's married to an abusive husband, Sloop, a wealthy native Texan and rancher who is currently in jail for tax fraud. Sloop is about to be released and Carmen wants to hire Reacher to kill him. Reacher, of course, isn't a paid killer but he agrees to stick with the woman and her young daughter, Ellie, and provide what protection he can.
Sloop gets out of jail early and immediately ends up dead, apparently shot by Carmen. It's a crime to which she confesses and suddenly everything she's told Reacher about being an innocent victim appears to be a lie. Or is it?
ECHO BURNING isn't so much a whodunit as it is a what-the-hell-is-going-on-here mystery. Child builds his narrative slowly and carefully, introducing characters with various motivations and secrets as the plot advances. Included in the mix are a team of professional killers that you know Reacher will eventually have a showdown with.
To say any more would be to spoil the surprises and pleasures contained in these pages. Reacher, as usual, exhibits both his physical and mental prowess, twists and turns abound and there's an edge-of-your-seat ending. If you're a fan of Jack Reacher and Lee Child, you've probably already read this one. If not, it's a good place to start. I guarantee you won't be disappointed and if you read one Reacher, you'll want to read them all.