The Enemy, Lee Child's new thriller featuring loner Jack Reacher, is something of a prequel to the well-received series. It takes the reader back to 1990, at which point Reacher is serving his country as a major in the military police. With the Soviet Union on the verge of collapse and the Berlin Wall coming down stone by stone, it is the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Reacher is summarily withdrawn from his duties in Panama and posted to Fort Bird, North Carolina, just in time to investigate the sordid murder of a two-star general in a no-tell motel. In short order he discovers that the general's wife has been bludgeoned to death; a third murder on the Fort Bird grounds gives every indication of being connected as well. This time, Reacher is not only the investigator, but also a possible suspect. Unlike previous Reacher novels (Echo Burning, Persuader), The Enemy focuses sharply on character, although certainly not at the expense of a superb plot; it reads much more like a police procedural than the thrillers for which Lee Child is known. The compelling backstory gives us glimpses of Reacher's army-brat childhood, and of his ailing mother who jealously guards her secret past. The Enemy will prove an excellent introduction to the series for newcomers, and will provide exceptional insight for longtime readers into a truly original character in contemporary suspense fiction.

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