All Jack Reacher wanted to do was prevent an old man from being mugged. But Reacher’s assistance causes some long-simmering issues to boil over and before he knows it, he’s at the center of a turf war for the heart and soul of a town.
As with many of the recent Jack Reacher novels, it feels like Lee Child has a great idea for a short story here that’s been expanded into a full-length novel. Reacher helping the underdog facing long odds is nothing new and the elderly couple forced to sell everything and borrow from loan sharks to afford a radical treatment therapy for their daughter is timely enough. But once Reacher saves the old man from being mugged for carrying a lot of cash to pay off his loan shark, things become a bit of a slog.
Reacher is a wild-card in the equation and watching two sides of a long-simmering turf war slowly come to a full boil because Reacher steps-in seems like it should be fun and entertaining. Instead, it leads to a middle third of the book where Reacher seems to try and leave but keeps getting pulled back in for one reason or another. At first, it’s to help the couple in question, then it becomes because he flirts with a waitress named Abby, who also becomes an inadvertent victim because she helps Reacher out.
In the past, I’ve described Reacher as the modern equivalent of James Bond. And Blue Moon reinforces this view. Reacher seems to rarely grow or change from story to story and he’s always presented as the smartest guy in the story with the exact set of skills needed to solve whatever problem comes along. And, of course, there is Reacher’s love of diners and motels that take cash that seems to be a common theme of every novel.
I’ve read most of the Jack Reacher books at this point and it what started out as an entertaining, character-driven series is slowly starting to feel like a series being put on auto-pilot by its creator. The tropes are becoming a bit too familiar and I find myself wondering if I’ll continue the series as they continue to hit shelves.
Of course, I said that after the last Reacher book and here I am coming back to see if Child might return to form. (It did seem for a while that alternating Reacher books were great).
Maybe it’s time for Child to try something new with Reacher or push the formula of the series a bit for the next installment.