Sunday 30 December 2018

Past Tense

Finished December 17
Past Tense by Lee Child, Read by Scott Brick

I always enjoy the Jack Reacher novels. This one has Reacher deciding to go diagonally from Maine, to San Diego. His first ride takes back roads to make better time, but runs into an issue back home, and he leaves Reacher to find another ride. Reacher walks for a ways, until he comes to a crossroads that has two sign posts. One of them triggers a memory, a town that his father said he was from, and that Reacher and his brother always said they'd go see one day. A town in New Hampshire called Laconia. He decides to go there and see if the house his dad grew up in was still there. Another ride comes along in a bit and he gets dropped off in town. He does his usual scouting of the town to make note of potential places to eat, and other places he needs to go, such as the town office. He finds a place to stay, and makes a simple plan.
Reacher gets help at the town office from a woman in the records department and then from the town attorney, a census buff. He also gets some help from the local police, in particular a woman who was an MP before she became a police officer. But, due to a noise he hears in the night, he also becomes involves in a more dangerous situation. A situation that also echoes the past.
His longer than expected search for the family home also brings him into an unexpected danger, one where he encounters someone who is a real challenge to him.
This novel also has a parallel storyline, one of two young Canadians, Patty and Shorty, who are planning to go to New York City to sell something that will give them a new start. Patty works in a sawmill, and Shorty works as a potato farmer, and they are both yearning for the beaches of Florida. But the old Honda that they are driving has a mind of its own and begins to overheat on a backroad. They find themselves able to make it into a motel set back a ways from the road, a motel that has twelve rooms, and no other occupants at present. There are four young men who own the place, and they seem hospitable and helpful, but Patty and Shorty each have reservations about them at different times. As their situation gradually grows more untenable and the anxiety over their future increases, the presence of Reacher nearby becomes a tease. But Patty and Shorty are more resourceful than they seem to the motel owners (go Canada!) and I was impressed by their own handling of their desperate situation.
There is a lot going on here, from entitled males to entitled wealth that is definitely of our time. I like the echoes of different stories here, and the ties to the current world.

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