Jack Reacher is trouble. Wherever he stumbles upon injustice, he's going to take steps to correct it. For those of us who missed some of the stories in which author Lee Child wrote about Reacher's past, those stories are now in an anthology, No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories. And, I find them even more satisfying than the novels.
My favorite stories in the collection feature a young Reacher. In "Second Son", Jack Reacher is only thirteen, the second of two sons of a U.S. Marine. The family has just been sent to Okinawa. But, readers can already see the intelligence, cunning, and willingness to take on all comers in this account. Because I haven't read all the novels, I didn't know Reacher's background story. This story provides answers.
"High Heat" is the other account of a young Reacher. It's set in New York City in 1977, when Reacher has not yet turned seventeen. But, he's already big and attractive to young women. And, he's learning early to use his street smarts and his appearance. Lee Child puts his character and the events of that fateful summer together in an intriguing story.
There are stories from Reacher's days as an MP, along with accounts from his time roaming the country, from Maine to New York. (He continues to try to reach New York in time for a Yankees game.) And, there are vivid descriptions of New York City for those familiar with its streets.
No Middle Name is perfect for those of us who want glimpses at the quiet, confident man, Reacher. We can see his background, the influence of his travels all over the world with his family. We can see why he became the loner who doesn't seek trouble, but steps in when he sees it. As a fan of the white knight stories as written by everyone from Raymond Chandler to Robert B. Parker and beyond, Jack Reacher is still in a class of his own. And, it's fascinating to see how he arrived there.
Lee Child's website is www.leechild.com
No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories by Lee Child. Delacorte Press, 2017. ISBN 9780399593574 (hardcover), 418p.
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