Popsugar Reading Challenge 2023 Prompt #28

This was pretty much a free choice for me, to be honest. I pick up loads of books at swaps or charity shops, so there were plenty to choose from. I picked The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child. Jack Reacher used to be an auto-buy series, and while I’ve grown out of it, I still feel a weird sense of loyalty, so I will them up when I see them.

What it’s about?

As always, Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there. One morning he ends up in a town near Pleasantville, Tennessee.

But there’s nothing pleasant about the place.

In broad daylight Reacher spots a hapless soul walking into an ambush. “It was four against one” . . . so Reacher intervenes, with his own trademark brand of conflict resolution.

The man he saves is Rusty Rutherford, an unassuming IT manager, recently fired after a cyberattack locked up the town’s data, records, information . . . and secrets. Rutherford wants to stay put, look innocent, and clear his name.

Reacher is intrigued. There’s more to the story. The bad guys who jumped Rutherford are part of something serious and deadly, involving a conspiracy, a cover-up, and murder—all centered on a mousy little guy in a coffee-stained shirt who has no idea what he’s up against.

Rule one: if you don’t know the trouble you’re in, keep Reacher by your side.

What I think:

I thought this series had past it’s best, but I actually enjoyed this adventure.

Reacher is such a techni-phobe. He does not own a mobile phone and has little experience of how technology works beyond what he has previously used. Having him involved in a complex cyber-crime worked really well. It afforded the writers the opportunity to explain ideas and how systems worked to Reacher and therefore the reader.

As usual, this book begins with Reacher arriving in a small town and stepping in to help a random stranger. After breakfast, he notices that a man is being followed. The people following him have professional training and Reacher recognises their manoeuvres. Stepping in to intervene, Reacher then finds himself involved in a mystery that involves police corruption, the FBI, Nazis and Russians.

The city servers have been hacked and amongst other things, the city’s historical records have been wiped. A mysterious fire has also destroyed the physical records. Someone is clearly burying to hide something. But what? and why? A local journalist has also recently died. Was she on the trail of something?

Reacher works with Rusty to try and find the servers, restore the city records and ultimately – I kid you not – save America from election fraud.

This series isn’t written by Lee Child any more – he’s handed it over to his brother, Andrew. There is definitely a difference. Reacher seems harder and more cynical. He no longer has the charm that led so many previous characters to trust him. The relationships he made in this book were definitely more superficial.

It’s a hugely popular series, but if you are new to it then definitely start at the beginning – it’s probably about time I said goodbye to Reacher. I’ve got the latest instalment on my coffee table ready to go, but after that, who knows.

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