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Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel


Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel

Lee Child auspiciously published KILLING FLOOR, his first Jack Reacher book, in 1997. In the two decades that have followed, Reacher has aged slowly but surely, just like the rest of us. His conditioning and heredity are such that it has only been in the past few years/books that he has shown any sign of slowing down secondary to the multiple episodes of mayhem that Child has visited upon him over the course of the series. Thus it appears that Child is going to give Reacher a rest by going back to 1996 in NIGHT SCHOOL, revealing a bit more about the child who was the father to the man, if you will. You might wonder how the freewheeling Reacher fared 20 years ago when he was part of the United States Army and subject to the whims and wherefores of orders and regulations. Never fear: Child displays some of his best plotting and writing to date.

"Regardless of whether NIGHT SCHOOL is a harbinger of further exploration of Reacher’s early adventures or a momentary fancy, it is, as they used to say, a crackling good read."

NIGHT SCHOOL begins with Reacher being on the receiving end of a Medal of Honor --- another Medal of Honor, we are told --- in the morning, only to be sent to school in the afternoon. The “school” consists of Reacher in a room with two other men: an FBI agent and a CIA analyst. The schooling part involves the three of them learning to work together on a matter of utmost importance. The American intelligence network discovers that an unknown American in Germany has had contact with a Middle Eastern terrorist group, for the purpose of selling the group something with a firm price of $100 million. All that Reacher and his friends have to do is 1) identify the American; 2) figure out what he is selling; and 3) stop the transaction from occurring.

They start with #2, attempting to figure out just what the American has that is worth such an asking price. It’s a mystery, of course, and an intriguing one, particularly since Reacher and his new friends have no idea who the American is, where he might be, or when or where the goods in question will be delivered. The government has promised Reacher and the team anything they need, and Reacher takes full advantage of that as he peels the shell of the puzzle to get into the very dangerous meat inside. And just to make things interesting, there is another group of players who are after the item as well, a group that the United States government doesn’t know about.

NIGHT SCHOOL isn’t necessarily my favorite Reacher book, but it is certainly up there near the top of the list. Child seems to be having fun exploring Reacher’s hidden history. If one looks over previous volumes of the Reacher canon --- which, for the most part, aren’t particularly connected to one another --- there is plenty of territory for Child to explore with Reacher, should he be so inclined. Regardless of whether NIGHT SCHOOL is a harbinger of further exploration of Reacher’s early adventures or a momentary fancy, it is, as they used to say, a crackling good read.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 11, 2016

Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child

  • Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Dell
  • ISBN-10: 0804178828
  • ISBN-13: 9780804178822