Jack has gone back

A review of Night School by Lee Child

Night School is Lee Child's 21st Jack Reacher novel. If you are a fan like me, you are probably eagerly waiting to find out what Jack has been up to after he set off for Milwaukee at the end of Make Me. Not only did he leave with the girl - but they were headed for Milwaukee! What wrongs will Jack be setting right, here in Wisconsin? Well, we are going to have to wait at least one more year to find out. (Child publishes one Jack Reacher novel a year.) In this new book, we step back in time to 1996, when Jack is still in the Army.  

Reacher has just wrapped up an important mission and received a medal. Now he he is being rewarded by being sent back to school? When he arrives, he finds just two other students, an FBI agent and a CIA analyst. Both of whom have also just completed important cases. What is going on? Turns out an informant in Hamburg has overheard, "The American wants a hundred million dollars." No one knows who the American is, or what he is selling, but if he wants one hundred million dollars for it - it must be big - and bad!

Reacher is soon joined by his good friend Sergeant Frances Neagley and they are off to Germany to figure out what is going on and to save the day. Reacher and Neagley discover that an American soldier has recently gone AWOL. Not knowing for sure, but using his superb powers of deduction, Reacher is sure this must be "the American" they are looking for. And so the hunt begins. 

The story is told through multiple perspectives - both the hunters and the hunted.  

Some of what I found most interesting was trying to remember what it was like back in 1996. Despite the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, most of us were still pretty unaware of jihadist cells. None of us had smart phones and the internet was just a baby, not the information gold mine it is today. (Where do you think we will be in another 20 years?) Do you remember how worried we were about Y2K? And yet, there are so many things that have not changed, our fear of and mistrust of others, greed, and right-wing nationalists. I found the descriptions of the training for the courier very interesting.

Night School is a fairly typical Jack Reacher novel as far as the action and Jack's logic and powers of deduction, and of course, his being able to take on multiple enemies all at once. More time than usual was devoted to the development of the "bad guy" character. And Jack was working as part of a team more than in other books, but that probably comes from the fact that he is still in the Army and has to play nice with others. There is one scene that is gruesome, but I did appreciate that even though the book is filled with terrorists, it is not quite as dark as Make Me was. Yet, it is not in my top favorite Reacher books. I think I like Jack better when is is wandering on his own.