South Dakota in winter, and it's a very harsh winter indeed. Jack Reacher is travelling aboard a bus, hasn't even bothered to bring a coat, and that decision will soon come back to haunt him, and when the bus skids and crashes off the road, so begins 61 Hours, not that Reacher is aware of that at the time.
He finds himself in a small rural town called Bolton, a town hunkering down against the way below zero temperatures, and yet there are odd things going on in the town, and outside it too, where a strange stone building sits, all alone on the prairie, apparently without use or purpose, apparently built to the highest specification, no expense spared, but by whom, and with what grand idea in mind?
There's a brand new prison on the edge of town too where a drug baron is being held awaiting trial, and elsewhere a key witness is under police protection, a witness who should fear for their life, though they don't appear to.
Reacher sits in a diner and begins talking with the local law, what else is there to do, you can't go outside, you can't go anywhere, the whole area is at a standstill, frozen solid, yet the police chief is nervous, and his team understaffed, and he soon asks Reacher for his assistance. After all they are in the same line of work, even if Reacher's official duties were way back when, and before you know it he is working alongside the good guys, helping to protect the witness, picking up stories of a man in Mexico who runs a mammoth crystal meth drug operation that is fuelling the fear and the whole story.
61 Hours is not one of Lee Child's best books, but people say that every time he releases another work, and yet every time they are seized upon and taken away by the truckload and it is easy to see why. They are page turners and head turners. They keep the reader thinking.
Long time Reacher watchers will know well enough that small insignificant facts dropped here and there are not insignificant at all. Every time they come back and interweave into the story, and the reader ignores or forgets an apparently throwaway comment at their peril.
This 395 page book is not a full story, not completely, though there is a certain amount of closure. Mister Child has not done that before, leaving a story open-ended, but there it is on the very last page, the famous words: To Be Continued, like you might have seen in some old fifties gangster novel or film series, so if you want a total work with total closure we suggest you pick another Reacher adventure.
Reacher addicts and thriller readers everywhere will not give a fig about that. It's another page turning Lee Child and an essential read, and if there is a better page turning thriller writer about today then we have yet to find him, or her.
Review by David Carter
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