conceiving the Jack Reacher series, bestselling author Lee
Child wanted the protagonist to be consistent from book to book. At
the same time, however, he was determined to make each installment
stand on its own. This way, one can pick up any Reacher novel
(regardless of order) without the need for a general back story.
Such an arrangement is considerate to the reader yet also gutsy ---
one does not feel compelled to purchase previous volumes, so the
author is betting that the reader will like the series well enough
after one taste to pick up on the rest.
Keeping the Jack Reacher series accessible to new readers
at any point has not prevented Child from making each of the books
better than the last --- and BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE is no
The story begins in Portland, Oregon, where Reacher receives a
cryptic message from a member of the special investigations unit he
had been asked to form while in the U.S. military police. Longtime
readers of the series will immediately wonder how one leaves a
message for a man with no apparent ties or contacts. The answer is
worth the price of admission to BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE all by itself
--- and gives the first of many hints of the wonders to come.
It seems that someone has murdered a member of the team, and that
several others are missing and possibly dead as well. The group's
motto, "You do not mess with the special investigators,"
gives Reacher and his former teammate only one course of action to
pursue. Their painstaking investigation leads them slowly but
inexorably not only to the "who" of the hostile actions but also to
the "why," even as the answers demonstrate that if Reacher is to
exact revenge for the wrong done to his colleagues, then he must do
so quickly or sacrifice his desire for the greater good.
Lee Child, who always seems to be at the top of his game, finds new
summits to climb in BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE and --- no surprise here
--- conquers them quite handily. You'll never regret the night of
sleep you lost while reading this one.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 11, 2011