NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money because Edward Lane, the man who paid it, would do anything to get his family back.
Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And Jack Reacher is the best manhunter in the world.
On the trail of vicious kidnappers, Reacher learns the chilling secrets of his employer’s past . . . and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. He knows that Edward Lane is hiding something. Something dirty. Something big. But Reacher also knows this: He’s already in way too deep to stop now. And if he has to do it the hard way, he will.
About the Author
Lee Child is the author of nineteen New York Times bestselling Jack Reacher thrillers, ten of which have reached the #1 position. All have been optioned for major motion pictures; the first, Jack Reacher, was based on One Shot. Foreign rights in the Reacher series have sold in almost a hundred territories. A native of England and a former television director, Lee Child lives in New York City.
Date of Birth:1954
Place of Birth:Coventry, England
Read an Excerpt
JACK REACHER ORDERED espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived at his table he saw a man's life change forever. Not that the waiter was slow. Just that the move was slick. So slick, Reacher had no idea what he was watching. It was just an urban scene, repeated everywhere in the world a billion times a day: A guy unlocked a car and got in and drove away. That was all.
But that was enough.
The espresso had been close to perfect, so Reacher went back to the same café exactly -twentyfour hours later. Two nights in the same place was unusual for Reacher, but he figured great coffee was worth a change in his routine. The café was on the west side of Sixth Avenue in New York City, in the middle of the block between Bleecker and Houston. It occupied the ground floor of an undistinguished -fourstory building. The upper stories looked like anonymous rental apartments. The cafe itself looked like a transplant from a back street in Rome. Inside it had low light and scarred wooden walls and a dented chrome machine as hot and long as a locomotive, and a counter. Outside there was a single line of metal tables on the sidewalk behind a low canvas screen. Reacher took the same end table he had used the night before and chose the same seat. He stretched out and got comfortable and tipped his chair up on two legs. That put his back against the cafe's outside wall and left him looking east, across the sidewalk and the width of the avenue. He liked to sit outside in the summer, in New York City. Especially at night. He liked the electric darkness and the hot dirty air and the blasts of noise and traffic and the manic barking sirens and the crush of people. It helped a lonely man feel connected and isolated both at the same time.
He was served by the same waiter as the night before and ordered the same drink, double espresso in a foam cup, no sugar, no spoon. He paid for it as soon as it arrived and left his change on the table. That way he could leave exactly when he wanted to without insulting the waiter or bilking the owner or stealing the china. Reacher always arranged the smallest details in his life so he could move on at a split second's notice. It was an obsessive habit. He owned nothing and carried nothing. Physically he was a big man, but he cast a small shadow and left very little in his wake.
He drank his coffee slowly and felt the night heat come up off the sidewalk. He watched cars and people. Watched taxis flow north and garbage trucks pause at the curbs. Saw knots of strange young people heading for clubs. Watched girls who had once been boys totter south. Saw a blue German sedan park on the block. Watched a compact man in a gray suit get out and walk north. Watched him thread between two sidewalk tables and head inside to where the cafe staff was clustered in back. Watched him ask them questions.
The guy was medium height, not young, not old, too solid to be called wiry, too slight to be called heavy. His hair was gray at the temples and cut short and neat. He kept himself balanced on the balls of his feet. His mouth didn't move much as he talked. But his eyes did. They flicked left and right tirelessly. The guy was about forty, Reacher guessed, and furthermore Reacher guessed he had gotten to be about forty by staying relentlessly aware of everything that was happening around him. Reacher had seen the same look in elite infantry veterans who had survived long jungle tours.
Then Reacher's waiter turned suddenly and pointed straight at him. The compact man in the gray suit stared over. Reacher stared back, over his shoulder, through the window. Eye contact was made. Without breaking it the man in the suit mouthed thank you to the waiter and started back out the way he had entered. He stepped through the door and made a right inside the low canvas screen and threaded his way down to Reacher's table. Reacher let him stand there mute for a moment while he made up his mind. Then he said "Yes," to him, like an answer, not a question.
"Yes what?" the guy said back.
"Yes whatever," Reacher said. "Yes I'm having a pleasant evening, yes you can join me, yes you can ask me whatever it is you want to ask me."
The guy scraped a chair out and sat down, his back to the river of traffic, blocking Reacher's view.
"Actually I do have a question," he said.
"I know," Reacher said. "About last night."
"How did you know that?" The guy's voice was low and quiet and his accent was flat and clipped and British.
"The waiter pointed me out," Reacher said. "And the only thing that distinguishes me from his other customers is that I was here last night and they weren't."
"You're certain about that?"
"Turn your head away," Reacher said. "Watch the traffic."
The guy turned his head away. Watched the traffic.
"Now tell me what I'm wearing," Reacher said.
"Green shirt," the British guy said. "Cotton, baggy, cheap, doesn't look new, sleeves rolled to the elbow, over a green T-shirt, also cheap and not new, a little tight, untucked over -flatfront khaki chinos, no socks, English shoes, pebbled leather, brown, not new, but not very old either, probably expensive. Frayed laces, like you pull on them too hard when you tie them. Maybe indicative of a -selfdiscipline obsession."
"OK," Reacher said.
"You notice things," Reacher said. "And I notice things. We're two of a kind. We're peas in a pod. I'm the only customer here now who was also here last night. I'm certain of that. And that's what you asked the staff. Had to be. That's the only reason the waiter would have pointed me out."
The guy turned back.
"Did you see a car last night?" he asked.
"I saw plenty of cars last night," Reacher said. "This is Sixth Avenue."
"A Mercedes Benz. Parked over there." The guy twisted again and pointed on a slight diagonal at a length of empty curb by a fire hydrant on the other side of the street.
Reacher said, "Silver, four-door sedan, an S-420, New York vanity plates starting OSC, a lot of city miles on it. Dirty paint, scuffed tires, dinged rims, dents and scrapes on both bumpers."
The guy turned back again.
"You saw it," he said.
"It was right there," Reacher said. "Obviously I saw it."
"Did you see it leave?"
Reacher nodded. "Just before eleven -fortyfive a guy got in and drove it away."
"You're not wearing a watch."
"I always know what time it is."
"It must have been closer to midnight."
"Maybe," Reacher said. "Whatever."
"Did you get a look at the driver?"
"I told you, I saw him get in and drive away."
The guy stood up.
"I need you to come with me," he said. Then he put his hand in his pocket. "I'll buy your coffee."
"I already paid for it."
"So let's go."
"To see my boss."
"Who's your boss?"
"A man called Lane."
"You're not a cop," Reacher said. "That's my guess. Based on observation."
"Your accent. You're not American. You're British. The NYPD isn't that desperate."
"Most of us are Americans," the British guy said. "But you're right, we're not cops. We're private citizens."
"The kind that will make it worth your while if you give them a description of the individual who drove that car away."
"Worth my while how?"
"Financially," the guy said. "Is there any other way?"
"Lots of other ways," Reacher said. "I think I'll stay right here."
"This is very serious."
The guy in the suit sat down again.
"I can't tell you that," he said.
"Goodbye," Reacher said.
"Not my choice," the guy said. "Mr. Lane made it -missioncritical that nobody knows. For very good reasons."
Reacher tilted his cup and checked the contents. Nearly gone.
"You got a name?" he asked.
In response the guy stuck a thumb into the breast pocket of his suit coat and slid out a black leather business card holder. He opened it up and used the same thumb to slide out a single card. He passed it across the table. It was a handsome item. Heavy linen stock, raised lettering, ink that still looked wet. At the top it said: Operational Security Consultants.
"OSC," Reacher said. "Like the license plate."
The British guy said nothing.
Reacher smiled. "You're security consultants and you got your car stolen? I can see how that could be embarrassing."
The guy said, "It's not the car we're worried about."
Lower down on the business card was a name: John Gregory. Under the name was a subscript: British Army, Retired. Then a job title: Executive Vice President.
"How long have you been out?" Reacher asked.
"Of the British Army?" the guy called Gregory said. "Seven years."
"You've still got the look."
"You too," Gregory said. "How long have you been out?"
"Seven years," Reacher said.
"U.S. Army CID, mostly."
Gregory looked up. Interested. "Investigator?"
"I don't remember," Reacher said. "I've been a civilian seven years."
"Don't be shy," Gregory said. "You were probably a lieutenant colonel at least."
"Major," Reacher said. "That's as far as I got."
"I had my share."
"You got a name?"
"Most people do."
"What is it?"
"What are you doing now?"
"I'm trying to get a quiet cup of coffee."
"You need work?"
"No," Reacher said. "I don't."
"I was a sergeant," Gregory said.
Reacher nodded. "I figured. SAS guys usually are. And you've got the look."
"So will you come with me and talk to Mr. Lane?"
"I told you what I saw. You can pass it on."
"Mr. Lane will want to hear it direct."
Reacher checked his cup again. "Where is he?"
"Not far. Ten minutes."
"I don't know," Reacher said. "I'm enjoying my espresso."
"Bring it with you. It's in a foam cup."
"I prefer peace and quiet."
"All I want is ten minutes."
"Seems like a lot of fuss over a stolen car, even if it was a Mercedes Benz."
"This is not about the car."
"So what is it about?"
"Life and death," Gregory said. "Right now more likely death than life."
Reacher checked his cup again. There was less than a lukewarm -eighthinch left, thick and scummy with espresso mud. That was all. He put the cup down.
"OK," he said. "So let's go."
Table of Contents
The Fan Letter by Lee Child
They say the past is another country, and in my case it really was: provincial England at the end of the fifties and the start of the sixties, the last gasp of the post-war era, before it surrendered to the tectonic shift sparked by the Beatles. My family was neither rich nor poor, not that either condition had much meaning in a society with not much to buy and not much to lack. We accumulated toys at the rate of two a year: one on our birthdays, and one at Christmas. We had a big table radio (which we called "the wireless") in the dining room, and in the living room we had a black and white fishbowl television, full of glowing tubes, but there were only two channels, and they went off the air at ten in the evening, after playing the National Anthem, for which some families stood up, and sometimes we saw a double bill at the pictures on a Saturday morning, but apart from that we had no entertainment.
So we read books. As it happens I just saw some old research from that era which broke down reading habits by class (as so much was categorized in England at that time) and which showed that fully fifty percent of the middle class regarded reading as their main leisure activity. The figure for skilled workers was twenty-five percent, and even among laborers ten percent turned to books as a primary choice.
Not that we bought them. We used the library. Ours was housed in a leftover WW2 Nissen hut (the British version of a Quonset hut) which sat on a bombed-out lot behind a church. It had a low door and a unique warm, musty, dusty smell, which I think came partly from the worn floorboards and partly from the books themselves, of which there were not very many. I finished with the children's picture books by the time I was four, and had read all the chapter books by the time I was eight, and had read all the grown-up books by the time I was ten.
Not that I was unique - or even very bookish. I was one of the rough kids. We fought and stole and broke windows and walked miles to soccer games, where we fought some more. We were covered in scabs and scars. We had knives in our pockets - but we had books in our pockets too. Even the kids who couldn't read tried very hard to, because we all sensed there was more to life than the gray, pinched, post-war horizons seemed to offer. Traveling farther than we could walk in half a day was out of the question - but we could travel in our heads ... to Australia, Africa, America ... by sea, by air, on horseback, in helicopters, in submarines. Meeting people unlike ourselves was very rare ... but we could meet them on the page. For most of us, reading - and imagining, and dreaming - was as useful as breathing.
My parents were decent, dutiful people, and when my mother realized I had read everything the Nissen hut had to offer - most of it twice - she got me a library card for a bigger place the other side of the canal. I would head over there on a Friday afternoon after school and load up with the maximum allowed - six titles - which would make life bearable and get me through the week. Just. Which sounds ungrateful - my parents were doing their best, no question, but lively, energetic kids needed more than that time and place could offer. Once a year we went and spent a week in a trailer near the sea - no better or worse a vacation than anyone else got, for sure, but usually accompanied by lashing rain and biting cold and absolutely nothing to do.
The only thing that got me through one such week was Von Ryan's Express by David Westheimer. I loved that book. It was a WW2 prisoner-of-war story full of tension and suspense and twists and turns, but its biggest "reveal" was moral rather than physical - what at first looked like collaboration with the enemy turned out to be resistance and escape. I read it over and over that week and never forgot it.
Then almost forty years later, when my own writing career was picking up a head of steam, I got a fan letter signed by a David Westheimer. The handwriting was shaky, as if the guy was old. I wondered, could it be? I wrote back and asked, are you the David Westheimer? Turned out yes, it was. We started a correspondence that lasted until he died. I met him in person at a book signing I did in California, near his home, which gave me a chance to tell him how he had kept me sane in a rain-lashed trailer all those years ago. He said he had had the same kind of experience forty years before that. Now I look forward to writing a fan letter to a new author years from now ... and maybe hearing my books had once meant something special to him or her. Because that's what books do - they dig deeper, they mean more, they stick around forever.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the 10th in the Child's thriller franchise 'Jack Reacher'. I love Reacher and The Hard Way is the best. Reacher is ex-military and he lives off the books no phone, no address, carries his toothbrush in his pocket, no suitcase, and buys clothes, as he needs them. If you haven't read any of these exciting books, start with the Killing Floor. They don't have to be read in order, but when you're reading a series, knowing the back-story adds to your enjoyment of the current novel.
Excellent. Typical Reacher!
Another awesome read.
But isnt that what some books should do? I enjoy the Reacher series. Jack rolls into town. Bad guys are doing bad things and reacher fixes them. Usually with violence. Add in a little romance. What more could a guy ask for.
Another great tale from Lee Child. The only bad thing about this book is that I can't read it fast enough! Every time I think I have it solved, something else pops up and it's back to square one. Like all his books, a REALLY GREAT READ! I've been working my way through the series from #1, and hate the thought of getting to the end of them.
It draws you in and you don't know what's going to happen next. Jack Reacher is a different type of hero,not a goodie goodie , but someone who tries to do what right.
Reacher lives up to his boast of being a super investigator with enough twists and turns in the plot to keep the going-ons suspenseful. good read!!!
I just love this series. It will be a sad day when I'm caught up on the series. Takes you through another journey of Jack Reacher, his challenges and how he wins at the end of the day. Great Read.
Lee Childs is one of the few authors that I will walk into the book store and pick up a copy of his latest book and buy it without even reading the blurb on the cover. I know it will be good.
I was looking for a new author and series of books to read. I started with The Hard Way. It was good enough that I went back to the beginning and started working my way up. Its a great series and I'm really enjoying it. Up to #3 already. Jack Reacher is a great character. LOL though....anybody whose read his stories has got the be thinking the same thing I am....Tom Cruise? Really?????
Jack Reacher is the definition of Bad A$$. If you like "take no prisoners" type characters with a pension for delivering street justice in a justifiably violent manner, then the Reacher series is for you.
Not one of his best, but definetly worth the read!
Typical Jack Reacher story. Lots of action, well put together. Still don't see how Tom Cruise will play Jack Reacher in the movies without a total rewrite.
There is a lot of violence in this very interesting story.
I'm a huge fan of the series overall but there have been one or two "less than thrilling" thrill rides, including The Hard Way. The first two hundred pages or so are not at all exciting.....rather, they're nearly DULL. The story starts to shift a little and pick up right around the middle of the book and then BAM - the action, excitement and story itself all get rolling and do not stop. You definitely do not want to start with this book if you are new to the Jack Reacher series. If you're reading them in order, as I am, no need to skip this one. Just know it might take a little while to get into the story.
My first Lee Childs. Nicely written - sequential and smooth; easy to follow, suspenseful to the end. My husband enjoyed too.
This was the first Reacher novel that I read. I was hooked from the first few pages. If you're looking for a hero to root for with wit and action, then Jack Reacher is the character for you. I've since read all of the other Reacher novels and they are all Jakester Recommendations.
As my good friend Billy said, "Lee Child's Reacher has spoiled me from other characters and authors. Life is too short to pass up reading a Reacher if you have one available".
I'm a huge fan of Lee Child's books. He never disappoints. The Jack Reacher character is compelling, and the plot lines keep you guessing. The only problem with his books are that once you get started you can't put them down.
I chose this book because I wanted to listen to a book while I worked out. My local librarian suggested THE HARD WAY when I said I wanted a thriller, adventure type novel. I was not disappointed. After starting the story I became so interested in the plot that even after I finished my work-out I kept listening through some housework I had to do. And I couldn't stop listening so I dreamed up more housework to get done. Usually I don't like a lot of description in a novel because I think it slows the story but I thought Child did a very good job of balancing it with the faster paced, more interesting action and dialog. Child's hero, Reacher is ex-military and finds himself working for a sadistic mercernary whose wife has become kidnapped. He offers Reacher one million to find who took her. As the plot unravels, the reader and Reacher find it is difficult to tell who the real good guys are. I liked this story and would read another of Child's books. The actor reading THE HARD WAY did a fantastic job of different voices and acting out the parts, making my experience pleasant and entertaining. This novel helped me forget I was doing a boring work-out and tedious housework, so thank you Mr. Child. A. D. Tarbox, author of ALREADY ASLEEP and the six book NATURE'S BOUNTY series coming out August 2008
This is my first Reacher book -- I will read more! The only hero better is Spenser in the Robert Parker books. If you like ONE of these guys you must read the other at least once!
As we cannot smoke at work, I take my breaks in my car, where I always have a book handy. I can always read a few pages and then come back to it. After starting this book I found my breaks were getting a little longer then the alloted 10 mins. It got so I didn't want to put this thriller down. Finally had to bring it into my house where I sat and read all the rest of the book. This was my first of the Reacher series but I'll be buying all the rest. Lee Childs has me hooked.
I am a total Jack Reacher addict and enjoyed this tenth book in the series despite a few continuity mistakes (like having a passport when he never has any ID with him as a point of annonimity...)The writing ws not quite as sharp as previous books, but still well worth the read.
I've read all of Lee Child's books, and this one was as great as ever! I finished it in a day and a half. I'm not always a fan of Jack Reacher's vigilante methods, but in this case it made sense.
With so many authors churning out 2 - 3 books a year it's a pleasure to have to wait for one of the few great artistic writers and characters still left. Never a disappointment. If you've never read a Lee Child novel before, what are you waiting for? If you have, you know what I'm talking about. Gotta admit, I accidentally got The Hard Way on CD before I got the book. It was the first time and boy was I glad.
If you've never read a Lee Child thriller, you don't know what you are missing. If you are a fan of the genre, Lee Child is the under-rated master of this style. Jack Reacher is an intriguing and compelling character who never ceases to amaze. It is a page turner from beginning to end. Reacher continues to be the guy girls want and the guy other guys want to be.