Jack Reacher, the vagabond freelance lawman who never hesitates to stick his nose into private business, takes his lively act to Texas, embroiling himself in what starts as a messy domestic dispute before turning far more ominous. The rugged former army cop comes to the aid of Carmen Greer, who picks him up on the side of the road one morning outside Lubbock, then asks him to kill her abusive husband. Sloop Greer is getting out of prison in a few days, and Carmen fears he will start beating her again. Reacher declines, but agrees to protect Carmen, hiring on as a cowhand at the couple's remote ranch in Echo County, Tex., far outside Pecos. Within hours of Sloop's return from prison, where he was serving time for tax evasion, violence strikes. But the victim isn't Carmen; it's Sloop. He's found shot dead, and Carmen is arrested. End of story? Hardly. Most wandering heroes would move on at this point, but not Reacher. He begins taking a hard look at both Carmen and Sloop's past, as well as local history. What he finds—ugly secrets, human suffering, political evil—is repulsive to a man who's been around as many blocks as Reacher. Child (Running Blind; Tripwire) has developed a fine franchise with Reacher, who comes from the Robin Hood mold, but has enough personal quirks and moments of unusual insight to separate him from the pack. Set in a literally and figuratively smoldering landscape, this is a clean, infectious story that taps deeply into two troubling human emotions—the psychology of abuse and the desire for retribution. Author tour. (July)
Forecast:Reacher's fifth adventure—a BOMC, Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection—is among his strongest, and should hook even those who haven't read the other novels in the series.