After reading half a dozen or so Reacher novels in the last couple of months, a couple of things are starting to become clear. The first is that Jack Reacher really, really loves coffee. And that the fold-out toothbrush is one of the great inventions of modern civilization.
Another thing that becomes quickly apparent is that while these books are fun, popcorn reads, Lee Child has little, if any, interest in long-term continuity. I says this because I came to the end of Tripwire with Reacher inheriting a house and in a long-term relationship (with a woman he’d pined for 15 years, mind you). Having read-ahead in the series and finding Reacher without house or girlfriend, I assumed something interesting must happen in Running Blind to remove Reacher from this comfort zone.
Apparently, not so much.
The house and the girlfriend are barely a blip on the radar as Reacher is drawn into the events of Running Blind. Seems women with a little or no connection except that they were in the military and may have known Reacher are being murdered. At first, Reacher is a suspect (it doesn’t help that he wanders across a mob shakedown of a local mom and pop restaurant where he steps in and stirs up trouble), but then he becomes an outside investigator into the murders. It appears the killer has a time table and that Reacher is racing against the clock to figure out who is doing this before the next victim is offed. The military uses Reacher’s act of helping out the mom and pop place as leverage against him by bringing the girlfriend into things.
At first reluctant, Reacher eventually agrees, but as always he’s playing by his own set of rules. And it’s here that the book begins to break down a bit because it’s hard to believe this many people owe Reacher this many favors. Or that Reacher couldn’t call in a favor or two based on his experiences in previous novels to clear up some things early on in the story. If you can suspend your disbelief for that, then I guess you can suspend it enough once the identity of the killer is revealed and how the victims are being killed. I’ll admit it stretched my disbelief almost to the breaking point and were it not for the goodwill I’d felt toward the series after Tripwire, I might have been ready to write off the series–at least for now