Book Review - Nothing To Lose by Lee Child
Five days off, and the latest Lee Child book arrives at the library... Nothing To Lose. Normally, this is a recipe for a great time. This time, it seemed to be a bit off. While I liked the return to current times with the Jack Reacher character, the plot on this episode seemed to stretch out a bit too long. I was also less than enthralled with the subplot of missing persons, especially given the way Child chooses to have Reacher react to it.
Reacher's on the road again, traveling (on a whim) from Maine to California with just the clothes on his back, a passport, an ATM card, and a toothbrush. He ends up in a town in Colorado called Hope, and from there it's only 17 miles to another town called Despair. He can't resist the urge to check out the place, so he starts walking. When he gets into town and tries to order a cup of coffee in the diner, it's made quite clear to him that strangers are not welcome. Telling Reacher he can't do something is like waving a red flag in front of a bull, and he refuses to leave. This leads to one busted up local deputy and Reacher in jail for vagrancy. They take him back to the boundary between Despair and Hope, and dump him off. The police officer of Hope, a pretty woman by the name of Vaughn, meets him there and attempts to reason with him to just come back to Hope and ignore Despair. But Reacher can't let it alone, and he's determined to find out why they were so determined to get rid of him. He learns that Despair is a metal recycling company town completely owned by a single person, and Reacher figures he's got something to hide if the entire town is afraid of anyone showing up. It also doesn't help Reacher's curiosity when he finds a military Forward Operating Base guarding one of the roads into Despair. Things aren't adding up for Reacher, and he has no better thing to be doing than to uncover the secrets of Despair.
On the whole, I did enjoy the return of Reacher to his post-military, drifter ways. I'm glad that Child chose to retreat from the military flashback detour, and stay with the character that I've come to expect. Reacher's attitude, dialog, and ability to wreck havoc in personal confrontations is all there in Nothing To Lose. It's just the plot that seems to drag. There's a pair of plots involving what may be going on at the recycling plant, as well as people who seem to have disappeared after showing up in Despair. The real purpose of the recycling plant doesn't show up until the end, nor does the reason for the missing persons. Once Reacher *does* discover the reasons for both, he goes off on a political rant that seems rather out of character. It also places him directly at odds with Vaughn, given the personal circumstances she's dealing with. While it isn't quite a "soapbox" novel where the entire plot is designed to support the author's personal crusade, the end sure smacked of it.
Nothing To Lose isn't horrible, nor is it such that I'll be less inclined to get Child's next Reacher novel as soon as I can. But I certainly hope that this is not the start of a trend...