The difference between Hope and Despair is significant, a fact that Jack Reacher readily acknowledges. On a cross-country trek from the West to the South, ďthe Atlantic to the Pacific, cool and damp to hot and dry,Ē Reacher crosses the smooth tarmac of Hope, Colorado, stepping into Despair with few expectations.
Regardless of his current motivation, the old Jack Reacher of The Killing Floor is back, the tough-talking, take-no-prisoners ex-Army cop in fine form. Reacher is a pragmatist after thirteen years in service to his country, the following years spent traveling where his interests dictate, content to make his way through the world with few with few possessions, the only requirement the minimal respect he gives others and expects in return.
Unfortunately, the residents of Despair, Colorado, arenít too worried about this strangerís reaction to a decided lack of hospitality. Not only is Jack ignored in the only diner in town, he is ordered to leave - and never come back, persona non grata.
After a night in the sparse facilities of the DPD, Jack is released at the Hope town line, with the strong suggestion that he heed the police advice. Anyone familiar with Lee Childís modern-day warrior will expect his reaction to this demand. Tell Reacher what to do, and he will do the opposite.
Learning that Despair is a company town owned by one powerful man, a wealthy, ultra-religious businessman, Reacher is intrigued by the townís instant and unanimous reaction to intrusion. What are they hiding, and why does one individual constitute a threat?
The entire population works in a scrap metal recycling plant, one shrouded in secrecy, employees living nearby, closing out the outside world as they embrace company loyalty and singleness of purpose. Thanks to the aid of a lone Hope policewoman, Jack is able to conduct a stealthy assault on a virtually fortified town with no tolerance for outsiders, surprising even the locals with his tenacity.
Pure hard-headedness and a penchant for logic pits Reacher against unexpected obstructions, far more complicated than first appears. Child delivers with the usual one-two punch of crisp dialog, ill-equipped actors and the unchecked arrogance of power.
The iconoclast never actively looks for trouble, reasonable to the extreme when confronted with options other than violence: he offers his opponents the same free choice he exercises. Nor will this man turn idly away from injustice, a fact illustrated by his reaction to the lady officerís personal dilemma and his respect for fellow servicemen.
In a novel that grows more sinister by the chapter, Reacher is an unlikely hero who discovers a multi-layered plot that flies in the face of reason and everything he believes. Positing the possible is a powerful tool in this authorís arsenal, Reacher a fearless protagonist prepared to put it all on the line to save a town from the misguided intentions of one manís delusional mission.