It’s that time of year when only a Jack Reacher novel will do – when my brain can take little else, and I have a need for pure escapism where the good guys win, the bad guys get punched in the face and everything is put back in its right place. So here we are with Blue Moon which (inevitably) starts with Reacher on a bus going nowhere – he helps protect an old man from a mugging, and before you can say ‘convoluted plot klaxon’, we are knee-deep in an Albanian-Ukrainian gangster battle and identikit Eastern European men are falling like ninepins.
It’s not Child’s best Reacher novel, I think – I struggled to engage with many of the auxiliary characters (the female sidekick / love interest is particularly paper-thin), and the violence seems more ruthless, arbitrary and less necessary than normal: they tend to get shot through the head here, rather than punched in the face. The ‘fake news’ / Russia bit of the plot also feels tacked on and a bit ill-judged – as well as completely unbelievable (although this has to be suspended a fair bit anyway in these types of books). There are also some woeful lines – the worst possibly involving someone asking Reacher if he’s from Kiev, which leads to a line about having enjoyed chicken from there once…
Child hasn’t lost his touch entirely: there are thrills and spills; there’s some elevator action straight out of Die Hard; there’s a nice trick with a slow car-bump; and there’s some nice set-pieces. But it feels very heavy on the guns and light on the characterisation; and strong on the violent revenge but weak on the plot and detail. Perhaps it is the right time for Child to be stepping away from the series, as the quality certainly dips here (especially compared to some of the earlier novels) – let’s hope it picks up again as his brother takes over.
BUY IT NOW: Blue Moon: (Jack Reacher 24)