Always Plan for the Worst – “No Plan B” by Lee Child and Andrew Child

“No Plan B” finds Reacher in Gerrardsville, Colorado where he witnesses a murder that is ruled accidental. But his instincts and experience as a former Army M.P. won’t let him walk away without determining the why of the murder-ruled-accident. Along the way, Reacher hitches a ride with a woman on a quest to find out about the mysterious disappearance of her friend and neighbor who is also her ex. If that isn’t convoluted enough for you, add in a runaway from a foster home in search of the birth father he’s never met.

There’re several seemingly unconnected storylines taking place simultaneously but the threads eventually get pulled together, all centered around a “model” penitentiary with a reputation for rehabilitating prisoners.

This is the 27th Reacher episode and the third co-authored by Lee and Andrew Child. In my opinion, Reacher has changed. A lot. He’s more ruthless, leaving more bodies in his wake where previously he would merely incapacitate them when possible, or practical. That said, his penchant for violence seems as though it’s feeding on itself, whereas previously Reacher just wanted to keep moving, only stepping in to right the wrongs he witnessed.

The more notable changes that stand out to this reader are in the writing, both in style and structure. Lee Child’s talent as a storyteller is well known and his prose is artfully succinct. Every sentence is honed and polished, with no fluff or grandiosity. Andrew isn’t there yet. His short, choppy sentences I assume are meant to convey Reacher’s no-nonsense thinking patterns. If that’s the case, they fall short of the mark. I can’t help wondering if Lee has agreed to keep his name attached to Reacher’s exploits in a nod to marketing. If so, here’s hoping Andrew has a Plan B. Three stars.

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