Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Worth Dying For by Lee Child

Worth Dying For
When last I saw Jack Reacher, he was in a race against time, rushing up an escape ladder from the bottom of an exploding missile silo. Fortunately for my peace of mind, I had seen that the next novel, Worth Dying For, was already in publication, so I rested easy in the knowledge that Reacher would survive. Phew! The theme for the last couple of books, however, has left me wondering if a heart of malignant evil beats in the center of every rural community, as Reacher finds a nest of venomous in Nowhere Nebraska.

Hitchhiking his way across country, Reacher pauses for the night at the Apollo Inn, with space race themed decor. While enjoying a cup of coffee in the lounge, he gets involved in a doctor's house call which leads him to what would seem a simple case of wife-beating. Since Reacher is well known for sticking his nose in where it doesn't really belong, it's not surprising that he takes the time to track down the errant husband at a local steak house, takes out his bodyguard efficiently in the parking lot, and administers a single blow broken nose to the man.

The man is Seth Duncan, member of a local family that has parlayed a trucking company into dominating and terrifying the whole community. Nobody crosses the Duncans, or they pay for it with beatings, intimidation, or loss of their livelihood - if you can't get your crops hauled to market, there's no point in farming. The Duncan clan figures that Reacher is just your average troublemaker, and so they send a couple of their goons, recruited from Nebraska Cornhusker ex-football players, to make sure he doesn't cause any more trouble. Reacher's past training and experience allow him to put them both in the hospital without breaking a sweat, and the war is on.

The Duncans have something going on, above and beyond their local trucking monopoly, smuggling some sort of high value goods into the country, and they're connected to some criminal enterprises in Las Vegas and beyond. Their associates are concerned about a delay in the shipment, and the Duncans manage to convince them that Reacher is the reason for the delay, so the Vegas bosses also send some killers to Nebraska to deal with the problem.

Just some good, rousing entertainment once again from Lee Child. If you've been wondering how Jack Reacher survived the blast at the missile silo, this question is answered for you, too. Hope he keeps on crusading for many more books.

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