ECHO BURNING was my least favorite Jack Reacher novel to date, so it was nice to see Lee Child return to form with WITHOUT FAIL, the sixth book in the Jack Reacher series.
Whereas ECHO BURNING felt as though it dealt with relatively low stakes as Reacher looked to help a wife who may or may not have been beaten by her husband, WITHOUT FAIL returns Reacher its typical tension levels as Reacher seeks to help the Secret Service protect the vice president from an assassin who seems intent on tormenting the Secret Service before taking his shot at the VP.
Reacher is brought into the mystery when his dead brother’s ex-girlfriend, M.E. Froelich, now the head of the vice president’s protection detail, recalls a conversation with Reacher’s brother and tells Reacher, “I want you to kill the vice president of the United States.”
Reacher’s violent side really only displays itself very early and very late in the book, but the rest of the story focuses on Reacher’s detective skills and his attempts to unravel the mystery, which is honestly just as fun as watching Reacher take down the bad guys with fists or firearms. Sure, there are some details you really need to overlook to enjoy the story, but this was an enjoyable thriller with a mystery that took a lot of twists and turns before leading to its violent, vengeful conclusion.
Froelich’s relationship with Reacher provides an interesting subplot, and I enjoyed the callback to Jack’s brother from the first novel, which reminds us a bit of Reacher’s history and the fact that his stories and his character build upon themselves — this is a series with a memory for what came before.