“Persuader” has everything you want in a Jack Reacher novel: tense action from page one; a satisfyingly twisty plot; sadistic, violent bad guys; an honourable, violent good guy; beautiful, competent women who need to be revenged or saved and lots and lots of detailed descriptions of guns.
This is the seventh book in the series and I think it is the best so far.
The “Persuader” title seems to be a reference to a shotgun that appears in the book and which has tremendous go-through-walls destructive power. The novel shares the destructive energy of the shotgun. The action explodes off the first page with an opening scene that will surprise and trouble Jack Reacher fans. After that, the clock is ticking and the pace doesn’t let up until what needs to be done has been done.
Of course “Persuader” also refers to Jack Reacher himself, who also has the ability to bring destruction and death to those around him. In “Persuader” Reacher’s body-count is almost as high as in the first book, “Killing Floor” but it’s OK because they all deserve to be dead, “No doubt about it” as Reacher would say.
Two things make this book more interesting to me than some of its predecessors: the first is the writing. It is more confident and precise than before. The action scenes (and there are lots of them) are very well done, sometimes literally blow-by-blow. I enjoyed the way Lee Child establishes Reacher’s silence as an act of will and an indicator of potential violence by constantly repeating the phrase “I said nothing.” This normally goes something like
EVIL BAD GUY: spits out offensive comment
REACHER: I said nothing
EVIL BAD GUY: gloats and lears
REACHER I said nothing
EVIL BAD GUY: challenges Reacher’s manhood and threatens beautiful and practical woman.
REACHER I said nothing. Then I cigarette punched him in the mouth and broke his jaw.
The second thing that makes this book stand out is that it tells two, connected, Reacher stories that happened ten years apart. The integration of the two plot lines is a skilful piece of story telling that also gives us the chance to see Reacher thinking about who he used to be.
If you have never read a Jack Reacher book, “Persuader” would be a great place to start. If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous six Reacher novels then you’re in for a treat because something good just got better.
If you’d like to listen to an extract from “Persuader”, click on the SoundCloud link below: