No Middle Name
The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories
Delacorte Press, May 2017
From the publisher: Lee Child’s iconic anti-hero Jack Reacher is the stuff made of legend – a larger-than-life man who is “loved by women, feared by men, and respected by all”. Now, following twelve consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, Child offers the ultimate Reacher reading experience . . . which includes an exciting, all-new Reacher novella, as well as Child’s eleven previously published short stories featuring Reacher. This pulse-pounding collection marks the first time that all of Lee Child’s short fiction starring Reacher has been available in the same place at the same time. No Middle Name begins with “Too Much Time,” a new work of short fiction that finds Reacher in a hollowed-out town in Maine, where he witnesses a random bag-snatching but sees much more than a simple crime. In his trademark tight and propulsive prose, Child sets Reacher and his “lizard brain” off for a case where there is more than meets the eye – and Reacher, as always, won’t rest until a wrong is righted.
The longest of these tales runs 68 pages, with most falling between 36 and 53 pages in length, the shortest running 4, 6, 10 and 11, but no matter the brevity or length, these are all tales of Jack Reacher, and that’s pretty much all it takes to make it a must read. The very first, referred to in the previous quoted paragraph, was written contemporaneously, in 2017; the others between 1999 and 2016. Reacher’s brother, Joe, makes an appearance more than once, which I found very interesting (Joe has been in previous books). As readers know, Reacher is a military cop, at present 35 years old, a major with twelve years in, with rare attributes: He is brilliant, with admirable reserves of intelligence and strengths (both mental and physical, at 6’ 5” and 250 pounds. In one of the tales, which takes place in Paris, Reacher is 13 years old; in another, he is 16, and in another he is approaching 17. One story is in Georgia, in 1989. A few of the stories take place in New York City, primarily in sites in or around area bars in Greenwich Village. (In another, Shea Stadium is referenced, with, unfortunately, the Mets losing to the Cubs by two to one. (Full disclosure: I am a die-hard Mets fan.) But Yankee Stadium gets a mention as well, although without a game in progress.) And two of the tales take place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, interestingly.
So obviously there is a wide range of geography and time found here, but the most (only?) crucial thing can be summed up in two words: “Child” and “Reacher.” And what could be better than that?
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, May 2017.