My quest for crime thrillers eventually resulted in discovering Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Being a die hard fan of Alistair MacLean, James Hadley Chase, Desmond Bagley, Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown, David Baldacci and the like, I am very picky about the authors I read. After perusing the reviews on numerous sites, I decided to venture out and try Lee Child’s books. And the first book I ordered was Jack Reacher – One Shot.
The story has a crisp opening with the reader being transported to the sequence of events preceding the crime and the actual murders. James Barr, a former army sniper is accused of gunning down 5 innocent office-goers from a vantage point in an adjoining car park. All evidence points to Barr who is arrested and has only two things to say – a) that they have the wrong guy and b) he wants Jack Reacher to help him. Barr’s sister Rosemary has no idea who this Jack Reacher is but is convinced of her brother’s innocence and joins hands with lawyer Helen Rodin (DA’s daughter) to try and salvage the case.
An elusive Jack Reacher appears out of seemingly nowhere and expresses his interest in helping the case not to prove Barr’s innocence, but on the contrary to ensure he is convicted. Reacher, a former armyman himself had investigated an incident 14 years back which involved Barr going on a gunning spree in Kuwait City and killing 4 men. Reacher joins hand with the defense team headed by Helen Rodin to help establish the true course of events. They are supported by a TV journalist, Ann Yanni who has been waiting for a major media scoop to boost the TRP ratings of her news channel.
Barr has an unfortunate skirmish with the prison inmates and is rendered unconscious with serious head injury. This results in a partial amnesia which interferes with the prosecution’s plans. Reacher begins his investigation of the evidence and the story then meanders through various plausible theories and finally zeros in on a group of Russians who may have had a hand in the incident. There are a few more murders and disappearances which punctuate the story and of course, Reacher’s rendezvous with Brig. Gen. Hutton – his ex flame during his service in Kuwait – who puts in a brief appearance for the deposition with the DA.
After long drives and hours of thinking and pondering and finally a visit to Gunny Cash, ex military serviceman and owner of the shooting range which James Barr used to frequent, Reacher finally cracks the mystery behind the shooting and figures out who the “Puppet Master” is. Rosemary Barr finds herself kidnapped by the Puppet Master and Reacher along with Cash, Ann Yanni and Helen Rodin hatch a plan at attacking “The Zec” and rescuing Rosemary Barr. And in the bargain clears James Barr of the murder charges.
This was an interesting read. The writing is crisp with short sentences. To the point. The build up to the plot is engrossing. The mystery behind the killing starts unravelling half-way through the book. The ending is fast paced and packed with loads of action.
On the flipside, I found Jack Reacher’s portrayal too perfect. The man has no flaws and is always a step or two ahead of his adversaries. Even James Bond is not that perfect :P. The second issue I had was the investigation of the victims. Any murder investigation starts with the suspects and also a complete screening of the victims’ profiles and I was very surprised that the Perfect Jack Reacher thought about doing research on the victims’ backgrounds towards the end of the book 🙂
All in all an entertaining whodunit packed with action and enough twists and turns.