Lee Child's Running Blind brings soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher back for an encore performance. Reacher is one of those guys we would all like to be: a believer in his brand of swift justice, above all law but his own. In the opening scenes, Reacher watches as a restaurant owner gets shaken down for protection money by a couple of Syrian thugs. A short while later, the bad guys get their comeuppance (Van Damme style) in an adjacent alleyway. After giving the miscreants a thorough drubbing, Reacher affixes labels to their foreheads with super glue. The first label says, This restaurant already has protection ; the second, Don't start a turf war with us. It won't come off, Reacher says. Not without taking a lot of skin with it. Go give our best regards to your boss, then go to the hospital. Later that evening, largely on the strength of his performance with the thugs, Reacher is unwillingly conscripted into the service of the FBI, which has uses for his unconventional ways of getting things done. They also have a bit of leverage over him, having witnessed his assault and battery of the Syrians.
Grudgingly, Reacher agrees to help out, not realizing that he will soon be in the midst of a serial killing spree that may well target the one person he truly cares for.
Bruce Tierney is a Nashville-based writer and mystery aficionado. He'll recommend the best in mysteries each month in a new column, Whodunit?