Jack Reacher #19: Personal by Lee Child (Bantam Books)

You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely, notes Jack Reacher—and sure enough, the retired military cop is soon pulled back into service. This time, for the State Department and the CIA.

Someone has taken a shot at the president of France in the City of Light. The bullet was American. The distance between the gunman and the target was exceptional. How many snipers can shoot from three-quarters of a mile with total confidence? Very few, but John Kott—an American marksman gone bad—is one of them. And after fifteen years in prison, he’s out, unaccounted for, and likely drawing a bead on a G8 summit packed with enough world leaders to tempt any assassin.

If anyone can stop Kott, it’s the man who beat him before: Reacher. And though he’d rather work alone, Reacher is teamed with Casey Nice, a rookie analyst who keeps her cool with Zoloft. But they’re facing a rough road, full of ruthless mobsters, Serbian thugs, close calls, double-crosses—and no backup if they’re caught. All the while Reacher can’t stop thinking about the woman he once failed to save. But he won’t let that that happen again. Not this time. Not Nice.

Reacher never gets too close. But now a killer is making it personal.

The Jack Reacher series, although I haven’t read them all, is usually a fun and reliable action thriller that usually makes good holiday reads so I took Personal on holiday with me when I went to France earlier in August, and devoured it fairly quickly. These books are almost always, regardless of their quality, quick reads, and Child has mastered the ability to keep readers hooked from page to page as he takes Reacher on the hunt for a sniper that has gone rogue, by the name of John Kott. He failed to kill the President, and now the stakes are higher than ever especially with the forthcoming G8 summit.

By now, it’s clear that Reacher is going to stop the bad guy at the end of the book and nineteen books in the series never really has any chance of being unpredictable. But it’s great to see Reacher kicking ass and taking names throughout the book even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table that would freshen it up from the other Reacher novels currently available (and there’s a lot of alternatives out there!). There’s a reason why I don’t read these books too often, because after a while they keep feeling incredibly similar.

However, that said, we do get to see countries explored beyond the usual American setting in Personal and it was cool to see Reacher in England and France. This was one of the few things that the book did to try and differentiate itself from the small backwater town with hidden secrets of previous books but still there was nothing really here to stand out at the same time and it could have easily been set in America and we wouldn’t have noticed the difference, as there isn’t really any sense of atmosphere created. It’s just Reacher going to places and getting the job done, as usual.

The secondary characters aren’t really memorable or at all that exciting. The antagonist John Kott is just about as generic as you can get and Casey Nice doesn’t really do anything to seperate herself from the supporting female leads that have accompanied Reacher in the previous novels, and only Reacher himself has any lasting impact, his character of course being long familiar with readers by now, almost 20 books in.

Personal starts slowly for your average Reacher novel and when the action does come again it feels kind of repetitive as you’re thrust into one brawl after another. It’s well written action to be fair, but that’s about it. It just feels like a random run of the mill thriller with stuff that seems to work which is a shame because we know what Child has been capable of in the past, it just feels like this has been too rushed for me and is overall a disappointment, despite having a few moments of disposable action fun.

Die-hard Reacher fans will probably enjoy this one though, but for me, Personal isn’t one of Child’s best works, feeling more rushed than usual and unless you’re a completist it’s probably a good idea to skip this one and hope that the next entry in the series is better.

VERDICT: 5/10

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