#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Jack Reacher returns in another fast-moving, action-packed, suspenseful book from Lee Child.
You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely, notes Jack Reacher—and sure enough, the retired military cop is soon pulled back into service. This time, for the State Department and the CIA.
Someone has taken a shot at the president of France in the City of Light. The bullet was American. The distance between the gunman and the target was exceptional. How many snipers can shoot from three-quarters of a mile with total confidence? Very few, but John Kott—an American marksman gone bad—is one of them. And after fifteen years in prison, he’s out, unaccounted for, and likely drawing a bead on a G8 summit packed with enough world leaders to tempt any assassin.
If anyone can stop Kott, it’s the man who beat him before: Reacher. And though he’d rather work alone, Reacher is teamed with Casey Nice, a rookie analyst who keeps her cool with Zoloft. But they’re facing a rough road, full of ruthless mobsters, Serbian thugs, close calls, double-crosses—and no backup if they’re caught. All the while Reacher can’t stop thinking about the woman he once failed to save. But he won’t let that that happen again. Not this time. Not Nice.
Reacher never gets too close. But now a killer is making it personal.
Praise for Personal
“The best one yet.”—Stephen King
“Reacher is the stuff of myth, a great male fantasy. . . . One of this century’s most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes . . . Child does a masterly job of bringing his adventure to life with endless surprises and fierce suspense.”—The Washington Post
“Yet another satisfying page-turner.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Reacher is always up for a good fight, most entertainingly when he goes mano a mano with a seven-foot, 300-pound monster of a mobster named Little Joey. But it’s Reacher the Teacher who wows here.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
“Jack Reacher is today’s James Bond, a thriller hero we can’t get enough of. I read every one as soon as it appears.”—Ken Follett
“Reacher’s just one of fiction’s great mysterious strangers.”—Maxim
“If you like fast-moving thrillers, you’ll want to take a look at this one.”—John Sandford
“Fans won’t be disappointed by this suspense-filled, riveting thriller.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Child is the alpha dog of thriller writers, each new book zooming to the top of best-seller lists with the velocity of a Reacher head butt.”—Booklist
“Every Reacher novel delivers a jolt to the nervous system.”—Kirkus Reviews
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
Eight days ago my life was an up and down affair. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. Most of it uneventful. Long slow periods of nothing much, with occasional bursts of something. Like the army itself. Which is how they found me. You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely.
They started looking two days after some guy took a shot at the president of France. I saw it in the paper. A longrange attempt with a rifle. In Paris. Nothing to do with me. I was six thousand miles away, in California, with a girl I met on a bus. She wanted to be an actor. I didn’t. So after fortyeight hours in LA she went one way and I went the other. Back on the bus, first to San Francisco for a couple of days, and then to Portland, Oregon, for three more, and then onward to Seattle. Which took me close to Fort Lewis, where two women in uniform got out of the bus. They left an Army Times behind, one day old, right there on the seat across the aisle.
The Army Times is a strange old paper. It started up before World War Two and is still going strong, every week, full of yesterday’s news and sundry howto articles, like the headline staring up at me right then: New Rules! Changes for Badges and Insignia! Plus Four More Uniform Changes On The Way! Legend has it the news is yesterday’s because it’s copied secondhand from old AP summaries, but if you read the words sideways you sometimes hear a real sardonic tone between the lines. The editorials are occasionally brave. The obituaries are occasionally interesting.
Which was my sole reason for picking up the paper. Sometimes people die and you’re happy about it. Or not. Either way you need to know. But I never found out. Because on the way to the obituaries I found the personal ads. Which as always were mostly veterans looking for other veterans. Dozens of ads, all the same.
Including one with my name in it.
Right there, center of the page, a boxed column inch, five words printed bold: Jack Reacher call Rick Shoemaker.
Which had to be Tom O’Day’s work. Which later on made me feel a little lame. Not that O’Day wasn’t a smart guy. He had to be. He had survived a long time. A very long time. He had been around forever. Twenty years ago he already looked a hundred. A tall, thin, gaunt, cadaverous man, who moved like he might collapse at any moment, like a broken stepladder. He was no one’s idea of an army general. More like a professor. Or an anthropologist. Certainly his thinking had been sound. Reacher stays under the radar, which means buses and trains and waiting rooms and diners, which, coincidentally or not, are the natural economic habitat for enlisted men and women, who buy the Army Times ahead of any other publication in the PX, and who can be relied upon to spread the paper around, like birds spread seeds from berries.
And he could rely on me to pick up the paper. Somewhere. Sooner or later. Eventually. Because I needed to know. You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not completely. As a means of communication, as a way of making contact, from what he knew, and from what he could guess, then maybe he would think ten or twelve consecutive weeks of personal ads might generate a small but realistic chance of success.
But it worked the first time out. One day after the paper was printed. Which is why I felt lame later on.
I was predictable.
Rick Shoemaker was Tom O’Day’s boy. Probably his second in command by now. Easy enough to ignore. But I owed Shoemaker a favor. Which O’Day knew about, obviously. Which was why he put Shoemaker’s name in his ad.
And which was why I would have to answer it.
Seattle was dry when I got out of the bus. And warm. And wired, in the sense that coffee was being consumed in prodigious quantities, which made it my kind of town, and in the sense that wifi hotspots and handheld devices were everywhere, which didn’t, and which made oldfashioned streetcorner pay phones hard to find. But there was one down by the fish market, so I stood in the salt breeze and the smell of the sea, and I dialed a tollfree number at the Pentagon. Not a number you’ll find in the phone book. A number learned by heart long ago. A special line, for emergencies only. You don’t always have a quarter in your pocket.
The operator answered and I asked for Shoemaker and I got transferred, maybe elsewhere in the building, or the country, or the world, and after a bunch of clicks and hisses and some long minutes of dead air Shoemaker came on the line and said, “Yes?”
“This is Jack Reacher,” I said.
“Where are you?”
“Don’t you have all kinds of automatic machines to tell you that?”
“Yes,” he said. “You’re in Seattle, on a pay phone down by the fish market. But we prefer it when people volunteer the information themselves. We find that makes the subsequent conversation go better. Because they’re already cooperating. They’re invested.”
“In the conversation.”
“Are we having a conversation?”
“Not really. What do you see directly ahead?”
“A street,” I said.
“Places to buy fish.”
“A coffee shop across the light.”
I told him.
He said, “Go in there and wait.”
“For about thirty minutes,” he said, and hung up.
No one really knows why coffee is such a big deal in Seattle. It’s a port, so maybe it made sense to roast it close to where it was landed, and then to sell it close to where it was roasted, which created a market, which brought other operators in, the same way the auto makers all ended up in Detroit. Or maybe the water is right. Or the elevation, or the temperature, or the humidity. But whatever, the result is a coffee shop on every block, and a fourfigure annual tab for a serious enthusiast. The shop across the light from the pay phone was representative. It had maroon paint and exposed brick and scarred wood, and a chalkboard menu about ninety percent full of things that don’t really belong in coffee, like dairy products of various types and temperatures, and weird nutbased flavorings, and many other assorted pollutants. I got a plain house blend, black, no sugar, in the middlesized gocup, not the enormous grande bucket some folks like, and a slab of lemon pound cake to go with it, and I sat alone on a hard wooden chair at a table for two.
The cake lasted five minutes and the coffee another five, and eighteen minutes after that Shoemaker’s guy showed up. Which made him Navy, because twentyeight minutes was pretty fast, and the Navy is right there in Seattle. And his car was dark blue. It was a lowspec domestic sedan, not very desirable, but polished to a high shine. The guy himself was nearer forty than twenty, and hard as a nail. He was in civilian clothes. A blue blazer over a blue polo shirt, and khaki chino pants. The blazer was worn thin and the shirt and the pants had been washed a thousand times. A Senior Chief Petty Officer, probably. Special Forces, almost certainly, a SEAL, no doubt part of some shadowy joint operation watched over by Tom O’Day.
He stepped into the coffee shop with a blankeyed allinone scan of the room, like he had a fifth of a second to identify friend or foe before he started shooting. Obviously his briefing must have been basic and verbal, straight out of some old personnel file, but he had me at sixfive twofifty. Everyone else in the shop was Asian, mostly women and very petite. The guy walked straight toward me and said, “Major Reacher?”
I said, “Not anymore.”
He said, “Mr. Reacher, then?”
I said, “Yes.”
“Sir, General Shoemaker requests that you come with me.”
I said, “Where to?”
“How many stars?”
“Sir, I don’t follow.”
“Does General Shoemaker have?”
“One, sir. Brigadier General Richard Shoemaker, sir.”
“When what, sir?”
“Did he get his promotion?”
“Two years ago.”
“Do you find that as extraordinary as I do?”
The guy paused a beat and said, “Sir, I have no opinion.”
“And how is General O’Day?”
The guy paused another beat and said, “Sir, I know of no one named O’Day.”
The blue car was a Chevrolet Impala with police hubs and cloth seats. The polish was the freshest thing on it. The guy in the blazer drove me through the downtown streets and got on I-5 heading south. The same way the bus had come in. We drove back past Boeing Field once again, and past the SeaTac airport once again, and onward toward Tacoma. The guy in the blazer didn’t talk. Neither did I. We both sat there mute, as if we were in a notalking competition and serious about winning. I watched out the window. All green, hills and sea and trees alike.
We passed Tacoma, and slowed ahead of where the women in uniform had gotten out of the bus, leaving their Army Times behind. We took the same exit. The signs showed nothing ahead except three very small towns and one very large military base. Chances were therefore good we were heading for Fort Lewis. But it turned out we weren’t. Or we were, technically, but we wouldn’t have been back in the day. We were heading for what used to be McChord Air Force Base, and was now the aluminum half of Joint Base LewisMcChord. Reforms. Politicians will do anything to save a buck.
I was expecting a little backandforth at the gate, because the gate belonged jointly to the army and the Air Force, and the car and the driver were both Navy, and I was absolutely nobody. Only the Marine Corps and the United Nations were missing. But such was the power of O’Day we barely had to slow the car. We swept in, and hooked a left, and hooked a right, and were waved through a second gate, and then the car was right out there on the tarmac, dwarfed by huge C-17 transport planes, like a mouse in a forest. We drove under a giant gray wing and headed out over open blacktop straight for a small white airplane standing alone. A corporate thing. A business jet. A Lear, or a Gulfstream, or whatever rich people buy these days. The paint winked in the sun. There was no writing on it, apart from a tail number. No name, no logo. Just white paint. Its engines were turning slowly, and its stairs were down.
The guy in the blazer drove a welljudged partcircle and came to a stop with my door about a yard from the bottom of the airplane steps. Which I took as a hint. I climbed out and stood a moment in the sun. Spring had sprung and the weather was pleasant. Beside me the car drove away. A steward appeared above me, in the little oval mouth of the cabin. He was wearing a uniform. He said, “Sir, please step up.”
The stairs dipped a little under my weight. I ducked into the cabin. The steward backed off to my right, and on my left another guy in uniform squeezed out of the cockpit and said, “Welcome aboard, sir. You have an all–-Air Force crew today, and we’ll get you there in no time at all.”
I said, “Get me where?”
“To your destination.” The guy crammed himself back in his seat next to his copilot and they both got busy checking dials. I followed the steward and found a cabin full of butterscotch leather and walnut veneer. I was the only passenger. I picked an armchair at random. The steward hauled the steps up and sealed the door and sat down on a jump seat behind the pilots’ shoulders. Thirty seconds later we were in the air, climbing hard.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not one of the best Reacher books. The danger posed by a sniper at large is not convincing. We love Reacher for his physical and mental strength (his uncanny calculations and deductions) and Childs for his quirky descriptions and spare writing. This one falls short.
I love the Reacher books but I have to admit this was one of the worse I've read. Very light on action. The first 40% of the book is just a bunch of talk. There is a pretty good fight scene towards the end but not great. The end of the book was also anti climatic. Not a bad read just not as good as I've come to expect from Lee Child.
Come on Lee, is this the best you can do? Is Reacher getting old? I was so tired of the chit chat in this book and very little action. This is one Jack Reacher book I had to force myself to finish.
The final characteristic of the genre is the fact that these stories are fast reads and very few of these muscular works of serialized fiction depend heavily on continuity from the others, so feel free to jump in anywhere. If you've never read a Jack Reacher novel, this is really as good a place to start as any. Your teenage son hates to read? Stop forcing that wimpy Harry Potter on him. Give him a Lee Child, Vince Flynn or Clive Cussler book. Let him kick around with The Destroyer and The Executioner. They are, like all good men's adventure fiction, nothing but adrenalin pumping fun. The hero uses his wits and his fists to deliver justice to the most foul villains imaginable (bonus points if their destruction is by their own cruel devices). Often the fate of the world is at stake. This formula can be tweaked a little but cannot in any way be fundamentally changed. Lee Child's Jack Reacher is the MAF hero for the new century. He is an untethered and unplugged problem solver. He is who every male with an abundance of testosterone wants to be. Reacher fits the archetype perfectly and "Personal" is classic Jack Reacher. I've read many of Child's Reacher novels and love them with the same passion I have for the works of writers like Donald Westlake/Richard Stark and John MacDonald. No doubt this book will please many of Child's readers who are looking for an escapist read. No doubt many readers will be pleased to know that at the end of the book Reacher is waiting for a bus to resume his nomadic existence. No doubt I will promise myself that I won't read the next in the Reacher series, but no doubt I will also break my promise to see what Child does next to keep the series alive.
I really have to wonder if Lee Child actually wrote all of this novel. I have read all of the books in the Jack Reacher series and this one was a huge disappointment with very little of the substance of the other novels.
They promoted this Reacher so much that I was suspicious, but not to worry-- great!
Predictable! Bloated! Unsatisfying! Mr Child phoned this one in.
A waste of time. I have read all of the books in the Jack Reacher series. PERSONAL was by far the worst piece of writing Child has submitted for this series. Stupid plot, no excitement, not one scene gives the book any depth. Save your money on this one, it is boring and not worth reading. If Lee Child cannot do better than this, then it is time to retire this series, unfortunately.
As a great lover of the character and author, I was quite disappointed in this read. There was far less action than normal and the plot was sluggish and hazy, nothing much happens with the characters, and the story just sort of drones on. Things get a little better as you approach the last 75 pages, but by then, you're sort of wondering what you might have missed in the earlier pages... "is that all there is?" I know Mr. Child must have some better ones in him based on earlier performances - Reacher deserves better!
Not up to past standards. Plot is beyond reality and actually insulting. Not worth the time or money!
One of the best Reachers in a while, and that's saying a lot. Lots of action and twists and lots and lots of Reacher. What is not to love?
Another wonderful, exciting, suspenseful Jack Reacher novel. Leave yourself enough time to read this gem, because you will not be able to stop once you start.
Having travelled the journey with Reacher since the very beginning I can only say how disappointing this was, it did not read like Reacher, it did not sound like Reacher, I was left confussed as to what Lee has done to our Reacher. Maybe it is not "our Reacher" any more, maybe Reacher has been reborn as a 5'5", 160lb hollywood star? I'm dissapointed, I'm left wanting more, I want "our Reacher" back!
Jack Reacher didn't even show up in this book. It is a betrayal to Jack Reacher fans.
Beginning with The Killing Floor I have read and eagerly anticipated every Jack Reacher novel and this is the first one that totally fell short of interesting, compelling or worth reading. The amount of the really interesting parts could have compressed into about ten pages without the lengthy and boring descriptions of the make, model and color of the cars, the size of rooms and kind of wallpaper, etc etc left me wondering why I bothered with this one! So did Lee Child really write this one or was it delegated to an assistant to write for him ?
Hugely disappointing. So dull!!! What happened to the Jack we know?
The most disapppointing Reacher I've read, and I've read them all. An awful lot of extraneous, useless filler in there.
Not up to Lee Child standards. VERY disappointing. Some authors' get popular and think they don't have to make an effort. I really hope I'm wrong....we'll see.
Almost no action way to much talk sure hope the next one is better or this will be mp last
Jack Reacher is back and as big, bad and entertaining as ever. You will wonder who the good guys are, but Jack knows. Once again I had to read it straight through, its that good. Enjoy!
A timely novel that makes you think about the world situation. Reacher is once again at his best! I usually do not want to put Child's novel's down and this kept me reading way past my bed time! A terrific read!
I have followed Mr. Child and Jack Reacher since The Killing Floor and have always enjoyed reading each book. I could hardly wait for the next -- I have often said I wish Mr. C could write as fast as I could read! Personal was the first book I've read that was a disappointment to me. I've given a lot of thought as to why this was so, and yet it's nothing I can really put my finger on. It was wordy, went into so much detail it became boring. Reacher seemed to not have any dimention, just flat and stiff. Not the Reacher I've grown to know and love. In fact, at times I wondered If it was actually Lee Child doing the writing. I'm anxiously awaiting the next Reacher book again just hoping it's better.
Disappointing to say the least. Too much travelogue stuff outside the USA...certainly do miss the importance of small community characters and operation. Bottom line for me...learned too much about Lee Child, and saw too little of the Jack Reacher I have come to know without so much exposition.
Read this book in one day, couln't put it down! Anyone who is a fan of the series will not be disappointed.
Constant suspense, compelling characters, a well-tooled plot with a gripping storyline. Enough sardonic Reacher humor to lighten up the dialog. Political intrigue for addiitional plot complications and background action. You'll be sorry if you miss this one.