Book Review: Past Tense (Jack Reacher 23)

Reacher is back, and by pure happenstance, like most events in his life, he has found himself in his father’s childhood home of Laconia, New Hampshire. Throughout the previous 22 Jack Reacher novels, we have learned a fair bit about his mother,Josephine, while his father, Stan, remained more of an enigma. That ends with this latest story, where we get to connect with Stan and learn who he was before the boys, before Josephine, and before the Marine Corps. What could drive a scrawny, intelligent, bird-loving kid to lie about his age and escape into the military?

This makes two great entries into the series after the slight miscalculation that was Night School. Since then, Child has really been developing the “softer” side of Reacher. Jack will never be an overly sensitive or emotional person but the care with which he treats addicts shown in, The Midnight Line, and now, searching for information about his family while still handing out beatings with his trademark snark is a significant win for fans.

Reacher tackles two new subjects in this story, the first being the genealogy, the second would be a bit of a spoiler, as it is the real twist of the book. In a mostly unconnected story happening at the same time, a young couple is on their way from Canada to New York looking to make a quick sale so they can start new lives. What they are selling is a mystery, like what’s in the box or what’s in Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase. We don’t find out until the very end what is in the case, leaving it up in the air about what kind of people Reacher may be dealing with. Like Reacher, they didn’t plan their trip to Laconia. However, unlike Reacher who ended up with a nice room downtown, they are staying at Lee Child’s version of the Bates Motel.

Past Tense is a great read that combines the trademark action with a little more sentimentality than typically found in a Reacher adventure. It makes for an exciting mix that should leave any Reacher fan entertained and excited for the next leg of his next journey.

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