This is a bare-bones thriller, a puzzle played-out in blood and death, with almost no emotional involvement.
Jack Reacher stands at the centre, almost more puzzling than the mystery he is trying to solve. He has insights that stretch credibility, based on a hyper-aware level of observation, remarkable recall and a willingness to run with intuition when logic can't get him there. Yet, the man who sees everything, seems to have no desire to engage with the world unless it is to exact revenge. He likes strong, beautiful women, but not enough to stick around with any of them. He has no home, no luggage, no particular aim in life other than to roam around the US, acting as a lightning rod for storms of violence.
In "Without Fail" Reacher is helping the American Secret Service to protect the life of the Vicepresident elect. Yeah, right. He even has a partner, a slightly shorter, female version of himself: fit, good-looking, no social skills and absolutely deadly.
The love interest is a paint-by-numbers set-up, designed to give Jack something to lose and someone to revenge.
There's some fun procedural stuff, giving an insider's view of the Secret Service and some deductive reasoning that makes Reacher into a fierce, combat-seasoned, sniper-trained version of Sherlock Holmes.
When Reacher finally works out the puzzle that has defeated the Secret Service and the FBI, the rationale for the hell that has been let loose is so unlikely that, at first, I thought it was a red herring.
The book ends rather suddenly. It felt like Child lost interest once the puzzle was solved but felt obliged to have Reacher show his predator side and tidy away all the loose ends at the same time.
It's not a bad book. It passes the time. It has some good twists. It has guns with all the technical specs explained and many of the sentences are short. Very short.
This one is for the Jack Reacher fans. I wrote this review as soon as I finished the book because, a week from now, I'm sure most of it will have slipped from my memory and all that will be left is a silhouette of Jack Reacher with the words "No one messes with me or mine" written underneath.