THE HARD WAY
Child's 10th Jack Reacher yarn is just as compelling as his first, in part thanks to ex-military policeman Reacher's nomadic, gypsy-like existence. As this tale begins, Reacher again is in the wrong place at the wrong time. His possible witnessing of a crime -- the kidnapping of the wife of a powerful, wealthy former Army colonel -- leads him into perhaps the trickiest of all his "cases."
The colonel has assembled his own personal military of Special Forces veterans and soon reveals an incredibly merciless history. But the plot, which in Child's trademark style has many deceiving layers, is hardly the news here. What is new is that for once Child has Reacher, who is always a step ahead of both the villains and his readers, falter in his deductions and nearly make a lethal miscalculation.
It's likely the closest Child will come to imbuing his solitary, stolid protagonist with vulnerability, and it's just enough to keep things fresh without violating the character of his stellar antihero. (May, 384 pp., $25.00)