Review

Gone Tomorrow: A Reacher Novel

by Lee Child

Everyone who has read Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books has a
favorite. Mine happens to be the newly published GONE TOMORROW, and
there are a number of reasons for this. For one, the novel is set
in New York City, where Reacher, at least for me, seems to be at
his best. Another is that the always self-assured Reacher reveals a
side and quantity to his wit and wisdom heretofore unseen. A third
is the nuggets of information about New York that are dropped
appropriately and generously throughout the book. And then, of
course, there is the story, which is perhaps the most interesting
and complex tale with which Child has graced us to date.

GONE TOMORROW begins with Reacher on the subway, undertaking the
first leg of a journey to take him out of town. We learn soon
enough that his entire reason for being in the city was to visit
some Bleecker Street clubs and listen to music. But his travels are
interrupted when he spots a woman who meets almost all the criteria
for a suicide bomber (the criteria list, if you haven’t seen
it, is worth the price of admission all by itself). When he
approaches her and attempts to quietly and civilly ascertain her
intentions, she shoots herself. Suddenly, Reacher is a person of
interest in the eyes of a number of different groups of people.

First are the two officers investigating the death of the woman,
whose name is Susan Mark. The police are almost immediately
followed by a trio of nameless federal agents from an unidentified
federal agency. Next are a quartet of gentlemen from a private
investigator’s office that does not exist, as Reacher soon
finds out. Then there is the brother of the unfortunate Mark, a cop
from a small town in New Jersey who cannot believe that his sister
committed suicide. While each group seeks information from Reacher,
it is Reacher who manages to extract a crumb, a thread, or a nugget
of information regarding Mark, and the events that led to her
killing herself on a New York subway train, alone and far from
home.

Reacher soon ferrets out two vital pieces of information: Mark
knew something about John Sansom, an up-and-coming Senatorial
candidate from North Carolina, and she was in New York to meet with
a woman named Lila Hoth, a foreign national who was waiting for
that information, supposedly with benign and benevolent intent.
Everyone (except for the police and Mark’s brother) is lying
to Reacher, as they all think that Reacher knows more than he
actually does. What develops is that Mark was in possession of a
memory stick containing documentation of an incident that occurred
decades before and could cause some earth-shaking, and
world-changing, embarrassment to a number of people for
different reasons.

Reacher, for his part, is initially compelled to find out why
Mark killed herself in front of him. His private investigation
leads him from Manhattan to Washington, D.C. and back again, down
streets that are on and off the beaten path and into buildings that
few if anyone ever notice. Everybody is playing for keeps; when
Reacher learns the what, the why and the who behind Mark’s
suicide, however, the matter becomes intensely personal for him,
and he unleashes himself in a manner rarely seen thus far in the
series.

There are some nice touches throughout GONE TOMORROW, brilliant
in their simplicity. A loner who is always on the move (though not
on the run), Reacher has let technology pass him by. One scenario
involves Reacher needing to avoid a spot of trouble by turning off
the ringer on a cellular phone, something he does not know how to
do. Another displays his unfamiliarity with playing a DVD on a
computer, a mildly amusing vignette that sets up a stark contrast
for what follows. Whatever Reacher lacks in technological
familiarity, however, he more than makes up for in urban knowledge.
His apparently encyclopedic knowledge of the city, encompassing
information that is useful as well as that which only seems to be
trivial, serves him well, especially near the end of the book, when
Reacher pulls off a neat trick that had me howling as much from its
execution as from its truly brilliant setup. Then there is the
ticking clock of the plot, which starts at the beginning and gets
louder and louder, even as there is some misdirection as to what
the clock actually is, and where.

The best part of GONE TOMORROW, though, is the mystery behind
all that occurs, a puzzle that Reacher slowly and painstakingly
unravels while on his way to a climax that is stunning in its
violence yet brutally satisfying. Both Reacher and Child are at
their best here.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Gone Tomorrow: A Reacher Novel
by Lee Child

  • Publication Date: March 23, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Dell
  • ISBN-10: 0440243688
  • ISBN-13: 9780440243687