Review: 61 hours by Lee Child
Bantam Press, €23.45
When the tour bus he's hitching a ride on skids and crashes in a blinding snow storm near Bolton, South Dakota, former military policeman turned rootless wanderer Jack Reacher finds himself stranded in a town under siege.
A vulnerable witness to a huge drug deal is under 24-hour police protection, the biker gang she is going to testify against is squatting in an abandoned military base five miles away and the new high security prison facility, the financial lifeblood of the community, where the leader of the bikers is being held is like a powder keg about to explode.
Meanwhile, 1000 miles away in the warmth of Mexico, a ruthless and feared crime boss called Plato, is the puppet master manipulating these events in Bolton.
In 61 hours he plans to fly his private Boeing 737 into the abandoned base and pick up billions of dollars of drugs, paintings and precious gems that have been stashed in a forgotten underground facility at the base.
The town's deputy chief of police researches Reacher's military record and, now aware of his abilities as an investigator, asks him to help. Reacher agrees to help protect the witness and use his old contacts in the army to find out what's hidden in the military base, but as the hours tick down to Plato's arrival with his small army of killers the weather gets colder and Bolton's body count rises.
This is the 14th thriller featuring Jack Reacher, who travels America with only a comb in his pocket, a strong sense of right and wrong and an uncompromising contempt for self-righteous authority. it's at No1 in our bestseller list this week.
British-born author Lee Child certainly knows by now how to screw up the tension with excruciating precision, but here excels himself with a beautifully paced tale that leaves the reader breathless with suspense as the final hours tick away.
The ending of 61 Hours is as violent and enigmatic as Reacher himself, and will lead his legion of fans in a frenzy of worried anticipation until the autumn, when Child promises the story will be continued.