LEE CHILD – One Shot. Delacorte, hardcover, June 2005. Reprint paperback: Dell, March 2006. Deluxe paperback: Dell, October 2009.


   I’m not sure what the correct terminology is to describe the new size that publishers have dreamed up to sell their wares in paperback over the past couple of years or so.

   Taller and usually thicker than the standard mass market size, but not wider, the primary purpose is to be able to charge two or three dollars more. Some books come out in softcover only in this size, others like One Shot, are repackaging jobs.

   They fooled me, just like I’m sure they hoped they would. I thought this was a new book, and here it is, almost five years old. No matter, I suppose, as I don’t seem to have obtained it when it first came out in hardcover or regular-sized paperback, and at 466 pages of relatively small print, I think at $9.99, I got my money’s worth.

   This is a Jack Reacher novel, the ninth out of fourteen, and the first I’ve read. Reacher, from all accounts, is very popular, and I can see why. A drifter and a loner and a fighter for justice (as he sees it) at 6 foot 5 and around 250 pounds, he’s quite a force to be reckoned with, if he’s not on your side.

   He’s a former military policeman (13 years), but he’s been out of the service and on the road for some time already by the time One Shot starts. A crazed gunman has killed five people in a small Indiana city, and when captured, he asks for Reacher from his hospital bed. Only thing is, Reacher is already on his way there, so if of the other side needs any help.

   Seems like the guy has done this sort of thing before, only it was hushed up, and Reacher wants to make sure he’s wrapped up as tight as he can be, so it won’t happen again.


   Only thing is, the details are wrong. Tiny ones at first, then small ones, and as time goes on, the wronger they get. Lee Child knows how to structure a story, there is no doubt it. I dare you to read this and take your time about it.

   The other only thing is, if you forgive me for this, the longer the story goes on, the less and less likely it gets. You may have guessed that someone and/or something else is behind the killings, and your guess would be correct.

   That such a complicated scheme — and yes indeed, it is complicated — why else would 466 pages of relatively small print be needed? — would be put together for such a relatively matter (although I am not a crazed gunman, or anything close to one — I hope) is beyond anything resembling a normal state of affairs, or very nearly so.

   Reacher is awfully likable as a hero, though — larger than life, you might say — even though the ending is (in comparison to the rest of the book) fairly perfunctory, falling back on (foolish) bravado and extended gunplay as it does, and Reacher himself rides off into the sunset far too quickly for my own satisfaction.

   Will I read another? I’m sure I will.