Book Review: Past Tense by Lee Child

Posted October 29, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Past Tense by Lee Child

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Past Tense by Lee Child
Series: Jack Reacher #23
Genres: Thriller
Published by Bantam Dell on November 5, 2018
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Buy on Amazon
Also in this series: MatchUp

Also by this author: "High Heat", Personal, Make Me, "Small Wars", Night School, MatchUp, The Midnight Line, No Middle Name, The Hero, Blue Moon, "Cleaning the Gold", The Sentinel

Twenty-third in the Jack Reacher thriller series revolving around an ex-MP roaming the countryside, exploring what he spent so many years protecting.

This eARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Dell for an honest review.

My Take

It’s so Reacher, recommending that hole in the rosewood closet…*laughing*

It surely is an interesting way to start a genealogy search, expecting that your relatives may have had federal warrants out on them. Then there’s his lack of computer skills: He usually clicked that mouse twice, seemed to be as good as a double tap.

It’s a complex story with Child using third person multiple points-of-view with three primary groups of characters: Reacher of course, Patty and Shorty, and the men running the motel. The minor POVs are the “anonymous” ones who take a complicated path to get to town with our following their individual trails coming in. Not to worry though, it’s very easy to follow, even if it is a tricky one. I will say it’s fascinating how Child weaves in all the different conflicts, making me wonder which new character and his vehicle went where, how he pulls Reacher in.

I’m also wondering why it is that anyone in the area would be so interested in keeping the men at the Motel informed…hmmm…

I was not liking Mark and company to start. I mean, what kind of innkeeper tries to humiliate a guest?? And yep, it just gets so much worse. Child did a bang-up job of ratcheting up the suspense with me dying to know what could possibly be the reason for Mark and co’s actions. I knew it had be bad, but…what? As for the reasoning, er, I mean excuses they come up with…jesus. I gotta say, it’s scary that there’s a community of like-minded people out there. It makes sense, since there are a lot of sick people out there.

And Child continues to confuse. Wall Street was a better market? Consumer feedback? Word-of-mouth in chat rooms?

The primary conflict is Reacher’s search for family — and doesn’t that turn out unexpectedly — with secondary conflicts courtesy of the repeat of the beating seventy-five years ago, only this time, daddy has a harsher reach, and then there’s the stew in which Patty and Shorty are cooking. And Patty reckons it’s only fair since she does work in a saw mill, grave humor, that.

In the end, it boils down to a code: If you do a bad thing, he’d make sure you only did it once.

The Story

It was happenstance for both parties: Reacher saw that sign and remembered that his brother had always wanted to check out the family homestead, and Shorty and Patty, well, that Honda Civic had needed work.

Both parties found a refuge: Shorty and Patty got lucky when they saw that Motel sign, and Reacher got a room at a B&B. Not so lucky, since he needed to rescue a lady in distress which led to taking down the distresser. A connected one.

Well, the cops aren’t interested in any drive-by shootings, and they’re mighty eager to get Reacher out of town before those hitmen arrive.

All in all, it’ll be an experience.

The Characters

Jack Reacher, a former major with the Army military police, decided to explore the America he had been protecting. Along the way, he fights wrongs and puts things right, keeping his dad’s code in the forefront of his mind. The former Captain Joe Reacher had been the older brother. Stan Reacher had been Reacher’s dad who married a Frenchwoman, Josephine.

Family legend has it that Reacher’s dad left Laconia when he was seventeen to join the Marines. There’s an ornithologist at the university who believes he’s related and that Stan is still alive. It was Cousin Bill who introduced Stan to birdwatching. James, a tin mill foreman, and Elizabeth, a bed sheet finisher, Reacher would have been his grandparents. Mark Reacher could be Reacher’s nephew. Reacher’s great-great-grandfather was one of seven brothers.

Shorty Fleck, a potato farmer, is with Patty Sundstrom, a sawmill worker; both born and raised in Saint Leonard, New Brunswick in Canada, heading for New York City to sell a treasure and start some water-related business in Florida.

The Motel is…
…in Saint Leonard and supposedly undergoing refurbishment to re-open later in the year. Mark is working the desk and his partners: Robert, Steven, and Peter. A passive-aggressive bunch who can’t quite hold onto their mask.

Karel is from Macedonia and is a car mechanic and tow truck driver. He’s good, and I don’t mean in a good way.

Laconia, New Hampshire
Elizabeth Castle is with the city records office. Carter Carrington is a census geek and the town attorney. Jim Shaw, the chief of detectives, and Detective Brenda Amos, another former army MP, are happy to help. Patrolman Davison and Officer Davenport could be the same guy.

Happens all the time, there’s another twenty-year-old loud mouth bully who got beaten up whose daddy is also rich, from laundering money.

Bruce Jones is a cautious guy. A former teacher, the Reverend Patrick G Burke, had a lot to say about tin pollution. Then there’s that fraudulent apple farmer with too much pride. Mr Mortimer remembers Ryantown, remembers the Reachers. From what he remembers, I can understand why Stan took off.

Some 75 years ago…
…the local loudmouth bully son of the local rich guy was found beaten up and unconscious. Marcus Ryan had owned a tin mill and built accommodations for the workers, called the place Ryanton.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a solid royal blue background with a woodcut-style graphic of an exploding star above a long low building behind a rail fence. To the left is a red neon sign reading “Motel” with thin rays of red shooting out from behind and in front of the sign. The test is all outlined in red with the top info blurb, the series information and the title in white and the author’s name in yellow split between the series name.

The title is where Reacher sees that genealogy. It’s Past Tense for him.

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