BOOK REVIEW: 'The Affair': Let's Travel Back to 1997 to See How Major Jack Reacher, US Army, Became Drifter Detective Jack Reacher

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Affair':  Let's Travel Back to 1997 to See How Major Jack Reacher, US Army,  Became Drifter Detective Jack Reacher
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear -- 1997 to be exact -- to find out what made elite U.S. Army Military Policeman Jack Reacher the scruffy vigilante he is today in Lee Child's "The Affair" (Delacorte Press, a Random House imprint,  416 pages, $28.00), the 16th Reacher novel and the one that explains everything you need to know.

"The Affair" is actually the second prequel; "The Enemy" -- set in 1990 and published in 2004 -- is the first.

Reacher -- 6-5, up to 250 pounds of sinew and muscle and not an ounce of fat -- is a force of nature and a natural detective, so it's no surprise that his boss Gen. Leon Garber wants him to go to Carter Crossing, Mississippi to find out who's been killing women in the small town next to an Army Special Forces base called Fort Kelham. He's to go undercover to find out if the killer is a civilian or one of the soldiers on the base who frequent the bars in the town.

A complicating element for Major Jack Reacher is the commander at the base who's the son of a powerful senator who's in charge of appropriations for the military. Another complication is an ex-Marine named Elizabeth Deveraux who's the local sheriff. I take part of that back: There is no such thing as an ex-Marine! Deveraux has no particular love for the army, but she's a professional and immediately spots the long haired drifter as an undercover cop. 

There's tension of many kinds between the two cops, including the sexual variety. Even their meals together in the town's best restaurant have an erotic quality.  Jack Reacher immediately realizes that Deveraux is not the lesbian she's rumored to be and you can guess where they end up in the hotel where Deveraux lives and Reacher is staying. After this period of education, they join forces to find out who killed Janice May Chapman -- and if the killer is responsible for the deaths of other local women.

Anything more would be a spoiler and Jack Reacher wouldn't like that! So I'm not spoiling for a fight with the giant.

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I couldn't believe that Jack Reacher hasn't made it to the big screen (most of Child's novels have been optioned for films)  and I learned after a Google search that the giant drifter will be played in the upcoming adaptation of "One Shot" by the diminutive (5-7, according to IMDb) Tom Cruise. The movie version of the 2005 novel will be directed by writer-director Christopher McQuarrie for Paramount. McQuarrie, whose last directing credit was 2000′s The Way of the Gun, is best known as the screenwriter behind The Usual Suspects, and Valkyrie (starring Cruise),

Cruise, born in  1962, is the right age to play Reacher, who, according to his "biography" in the Wikipedia entry "Jack Reacher"  was  born on a military base in Berlin in 1960. Reacher is a graduate of West Point and served 13 years as a military policeman, most of it as part of  a fictional military police unit, the 110th Special Investigations Unit, formed to handle exceptionally tough cases, especially those involving members of the United States Army Special Forces.

Though he was demoted from Major to Captain in the prequel novel "The Enemy", he regained the rank of Major by the time hemustered out in 1997 after solving the crimes in "The Affair" He was the recipient of many military awards during his career: the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Soldier's Medal, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

About the Author

Lee Child is the pen name of Jim Grant, born in 1954 in England and a former TV director before he became a best-selling novelist. His wife Jane is a New Yorker and they currently live in New York state. His website:

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