Never Go Back (Jack Reacher Series #18)

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher Series #18)

4.0 543
by Lee Child, Dick Hill

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Jack Reacher has come a long way, but there are some who believe that his past has caught up with him. . . . Reacher fans rejoice—Never Go Back is #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child’s new novel of action-charged suspense starring “one of the best thriller characters at work today” (Newsweek).See more details below


Jack Reacher has come a long way, but there are some who believe that his past has caught up with him. . . . Reacher fans rejoice—Never Go Back is #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child’s new novel of action-charged suspense starring “one of the best thriller characters at work today” (Newsweek).

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Never Go Back may be the best desert island reading in the series. It's exceptionally well plotted. And full of wild surprises. And wise about Reacher's peculiar nature. And positively Bunyanesque in its admiring contributions to Reacher lore.
Publishers Weekly - Audio
Back in Child’s 14th book about Jack Reacher (61 Hours), the amazingly self-sufficient, peripatetic ex-MP began thumbing his way from South Dakota to Virginia to meet Maj. Susan Turner, the CO of his old unit. It’s taken him three more adventures, but he’s finally made it and—no surprise—finds a mess of trouble instead of the major. Not only has she gone missing, he is immediately dragged back into the Army, facing a court martial for a crime he supposedly committed 16 years earlier. Dick Hill’s voice has a properly hardboiled timbre that fits perfectly with Child’s fast-flowing prose. It carries the insouciant, mildly sardonic attitude of a tough guy so aware of his capabilities that nothing intimidates or surprises him. Also of note are Hill’s well-tuned voices of villainy, from the sarcastic, overconfident bullies who try using physical force on Reacher to the cold, demanding master schemers who call themselves Romeo and Juliet. By piling troubles on his noble hero and handing him a particularly knotty puzzle to solve, Child has delivered a superior series entry and Hill’s rendition adds another level of enjoyment to the mayhem and mystery. A Delacorte hardcover. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly
Since talking to Maj. Susan Turner on the telephone from South Dakota in 2010’s 61 Hours (bestseller Childs’s 14th Jack Reacher novel), the former military cop has been heading to the Virginia headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP, in hopes of meeting her. In this 18th outing, Reacher finally arrives in Virginia, where his plan to meet Turner is initially thwarted by thugs who want to keep them apart. An arrest for a crime Reacher doesn’t remember committing 16 years earlier and the dangled bait that he might be a father provoke him to run, kicking off a cross-country odyssey. As usual, head-busting physicality and analytical problem solving play key roles in Reacher’s fight to prove his innocence and expose his enemies. Manhunts on both coasts, a link to corruption in Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. military drawdown, and the possibility for romance between Reacher and Turner make this entry one of the best in the series. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“A breathless cross-country spree . . . some of the best, wiliest writing [Lee] Child has ever done . . . Child’s bodacious action hero, Jack Reacher, has already tramped through 17 novels and three e-book singles. But his latest, Never Go Back, may be the best desert island reading in the series. It’s exceptionally well plotted. And full of wild surprises. And wise about Reacher’s peculiar nature. And positively Bunyanesque in its admiring contributions to Reacher lore.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Welcome to the relentless world of Jack Reacher and his impressive tendency to be in the wrong place at the right time. . . . Child has created an iconic character that other thriller writers try to emulate but don’t come close to matching. He has a talent for taking material that in the hands of other authors would be stale and making it seem fresh. . . . Tight and compelling . . . Never Go Back is one of Child’s best novels.”—Associated Press
“An adrenaline-charged, action-packed thriller . . . impossible to put down.”—Lansing State Journal
“The dialogue has never been sharper. . . . The pages turn themselves.”—San Antonio Express-News

“For the pure pleasure of uncomplicated, nonstop action, no one touches Reacher.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Brilliant . . . Child never, ever slips. He keeps the action cranking better than anyone, but, best of all, he keeps us guessing about Reacher.”Booklist (starred review)
“One of the best in the series.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal
After trekking back from the savage snowstorms of South Dakota, Jack Reacher finally returns to his old military police unit, eager to meet Maj. Susan Turner, the new commanding officer who helped him save the trapped victims in 61 Hours. However, Reacher finds out that Turner is under investigation for corruption and is awaiting trial for conspiracy. And that's not all. The army drafts him back into service to face two trumped-up legal cases—homicide charges for assaulting an L.A. gangbanger for selling black-market weapons and a paternity suit from a former girlfriend alleging that Reacher fathered her 14-year-old daughter. Both parties are simply after his money. Harnessing his anger and brute strength, Reacher cunningly defends himself, promising to "never go back." VERDICT As they snatch up Reacher's 18th adventure, avid fans in more than 95 countries will again marvel at Child's terse, hard-boiled style. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/13.]—Jerry P. Miller. Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Jack Reacher pokes a head into his old D.C. office, and things promptly go ballistic. Reacher wants to get a gander at Maj. Susan Turner, his successor as head of the 100th Military Police Special Unit. But she's been sent to Afghanistan, he's told, and he'll have to deal with her temporary replacement, Lt. Col. Morgan. Morgan's idea of dealing with Reacher is to accuse him of beating Juan Rodriguez to death 16 years ago and shortly afterward fathering Samantha, a 14-year-old whose mother, Candice Dayton, is now looking for child support. To make sure Reacher doesn't run off, as he's certainly wont to do (A Wanted Man, 2012, etc.), Morgan recalls him to active Army service and restricts him to a five-mile radius surrounding the building. Naturally, things promptly get worse. A pair of thugs offer to beat Reacher to a pulp if he doesn't go AWOL. Maj. Turner turns out to be in jail, not Afghanistan. And when her lawyer, Col. Moorcroft, is beaten into a coma a few hours after one of Reacher's own lawyers--Capt. Helen Sullivan, the one handling the Rodriguez charge--witnesses Reacher's fraught meeting with Moorcroft, Reacher is escorted to an adjoining cell in the same building. But Reacher, never one to let temporary reversals get him down, escapes from jail, taking Turner with him, and sets out to escape the District, rustle up some cash and some wheels, elude the two thugs (now four) who remain in hot pursuit, and hightail it to L.A. to satisfy himself as to whether Samantha Dayton really is his daughter. Any questions? For the pure pleasure of uncomplicated, nonstop action, no one touches Reacher, who accurately observes that "I trained turn fear into aggression."

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Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Jack Reacher Series, #18
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter 1

Eventually they put Reacher in a car and drove him to a motel a mile away, where the night clerk gave him a room, which had all the features Reacher expected, because he had seen such rooms a thousand times before. There was a raucous through-the-wall heater, which would be too noisy to sleep with, which would save the owner money on electricity. There were low-watt bulbs in all the fixtures, likewise. There was a low-pile carpet that after cleaning would dry in hours, so the room could rent again the same day. Not that the carpet would be cleaned often. It was dark and patterned and ideal for concealing stains. As was the bedspread. No doubt the shower would be weak and strangled, and the towels thin, and the soap small, and the shampoo cheap. The furniture was made of wood, all dark and bruised, and the television set was small and old, and the curtains were gray with grime.

All as expected. Nothing he hadn’t seen a thousand times before.

But still dismal.

So before even putting the key in his pocket he turned around and went back out to the lot. The air was cold, and a little damp. The middle of the evening, in the middle of winter, in the northeastern corner of Virginia. The lazy Potomac was not far away. Beyond it in the east, D.C.’s glow lit up the clouds. The nation’s capital, where all kinds of things were going on.

The car that had let him out was already driving away. Reacher watched its tail lights grow faint in the mist. After a moment they disappeared completely, and the world went quiet and still. Just for a minute. Then another car showed up, brisk and confident, like it knew where it was going. It turned into the lot. It was a plain sedan, dark in color. Almost certainly a government vehicle. It aimed for the motel office, but its headlight beams swung across Reacher’s immobile form, and it changed direction, and came straight at him.

Visitors. Purpose unknown, but the news would be either good or bad.

The car stopped parallel with the building, as far in front of Reacher as his room was behind him, leaving him alone in the center of a space the size of a boxing ring. Two men got out of the car. Despite the chill they were dressed in T-shirts, tight and white, above the kind of athletic pants sprinters peel off seconds before a race. Both men looked more than six feet and two hundred pounds. Smaller than Reacher, but not by much. Both were military. That was clear. Reacher could tell by their haircuts. No civilian barber would be as pragmatic or brutal. The market wouldn’t allow it.

The guy from the passenger side tracked around the hood and formed up with the driver. The two of them stood there, side by side. Both wore sneakers on their feet, big and white and shapeless. Neither had been in the Middle East recently. No sunburn, no squint lines, no stress and strain in their eyes. Both were young, somewhere south of thirty. Technically Reacher was old enough to be their father. They were NCOs, he thought. Specialists, probably, not sergeants. They didn’t look like sergeants. Not wise enough. The opposite, in fact. They had dull, blank faces.

The guy from the passenger side said, “Are you Jack Reacher?”

Reacher said, “Who’s asking?”

“We are.”

“And who are you?”

“We’re your legal advisors.”

Which they weren’t, obviously. Reacher knew that. Army lawyers don’t travel in pairs and breathe through their mouths. They were something else. Bad news, not good. In which case immediate action was always the best bet. Easy enough to mime sudden comprehension and an eager approach and a hand raised in welcome, and easy enough to let the eager approach become unstoppable momentum, and to turn the raised hand into a scything blow, elbow into the left-hand guy’s face, hard and downward, followed by a stamp of the right foot, as if killing an imaginary cockroach had been the whole point of the manic exercise, whereupon the bounce off the stamp would set up the same elbow backhand into the right-hand guy’s throat, one, two, three, smack, stamp, smack, game over.

Easy enough. And always the safest approach. Reacher’s mantra was: Get your retaliation in first. Especially when outnumbered two-to-one against guys with youth and energy on their side.

But. He wasn’t sure. Not completely. Not yet. And he couldn’t afford a mistake of that nature. Not then. Not under the circumstances. He was inhibited. He let the moment pass.

He said, “So what’s your legal advice?”

“Conduct unbecoming,” the guy said. “You brought the unit into disrepute. A court martial would hurt us all. So you should get the hell out of town, right now. And you should never come back again.”

“No one mentioned a court martial.”

“Not yet. But they will. So don’t stick around for it.”

“I’m under orders.”

“They couldn’t find you before. They won’t find you now. The army doesn’t use skip tracers. And no skip tracer could find you anyway. Not the way you seem to live.”

Reacher said nothing.

The guy said, “So that’s our legal advice.”

Reacher said, “Noted.”

“You need to do more than note it.”

“Do I?”

“Because we’re offering an incentive.”

“What kind?”

“Every night we find you still here, we’re going to kick your ass.”

“Are you?”

“Starting tonight. So you’ll get the right general idea about what to do.”

Reacher said, “You ever bought an electrical appliance?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“I saw one once, in a store. It had a yellow label on the back. It said if you messed with it you ran the risk of death or serious injury.”


“Pretend I’ve got the same kind of label.”

“We’re not worried about you, old man.”

Old man. For no good reason Reacher saw an image of his father in his mind. Somewhere sunny. Okinawa, possibly. Stan Reacher, born in Laconia, New Hampshire, a Marine captain serving in Japan, with a wife and two teenage sons. Reacher and his brother had called him the old man, and he had seemed old, even though at that point he must have been ten years younger than Reacher was that night.

“Turn around,” Reacher said. “Go back wherever you came from. You’re in over your heads.”

“Not how we see it.”

“I used to do this for a living,” Reacher said. “But you know that, right?”

No response.

“I know all the moves,” Reacher said. “I invented some of them.”

No reply.

Reacher still had his key in his hand. Rule of thumb: don’t attack a guy who just came through a door that locks. A bunch is better, but even a single key makes a pretty good weapon. Socket the head against the palm, poke the shaft out between the index and middle fingers, and you’ve got a fairly decent knuckleduster.

But. They were just dumb kids. No need to get all bent out of shape. No need for torn flesh and broken bones.

Reacher put his key in his pocket.

Their sneakers meant they had no plans to kick him. No one kicks things with soft white athletic shoes. No point. Unless they were aiming to deliver blows with their feet merely for the points value alone. Like one of those martial arts fetishes with a name like something off a Chinese food menu. Tae Kwon Do, and so on. All very well at the Olympic Games, but hopeless on the street. Lifting your leg like a dog at a hydrant was just begging to get beat. Begging to get tipped over and kicked into unconsciousness.

Did these guys even know that? Were they looking at his own feet? Reacher was wearing a pair of heavy boots. Comfortable, and durable. He had bought them in South Dakota. He planned to keep on wearing them all winter long.

He said, “I’m going inside now.”

No response.

He said, “Goodnight.”

No response.

Reacher half turned and half stepped back, toward his door, a fluid quarter circle, shoulders and all, and like he knew they would the two guys moved toward him, faster than he was moving, off-script and involuntary, ready to grab him.

Reacher kept it going long enough to let their momentum establish, and then he whipped back through the reverse quarter circle toward them, by which time he was moving just as fast as they were, two hundred and fifty pounds about to collide head-on with four hundred, and he kept on twisting and threw a long left hook at the left-hand guy. It caught him as designed, hard on the ear, and the guy’s head snapped sideways and bounced off his partner’s shoulder, by which time Reacher was already throwing a right-hand uppercut under the partner’s chin. It hit like a how-to diagram and the guy’s head went up and back the same way his buddy’s had bounced around, and almost in the same second. Like they were puppets, and the puppeteer had sneezed.

Both of them stayed on their feet. The left-hand guy was wobbling around like a man on a ship, and the right-hand guy was stumbling backward. The left-hand guy was all unstable and up on his heels and his center mass was open and unprotected. Reacher popped a clubbing right into his solar plexus, hard enough to drive the breath out of him, soft enough not to cause lasting neurological damage. The guy folded up and crouched and hugged his knees. Reacher stepped past him and went after the right-hand guy, who saw him coming and swung a feeble right of his own. Reacher clouted it aside with his left forearm and repeated the clubbing right to the solar plexus.

The guy folded in half, just the same.

After that it was easy enough to nudge them around until they were facing in the right direction, and then to use the flat of his boot sole to shove them toward their car, first one, and then the other. They hit head-on, pretty hard, and they went down flat. They left shallow dents in the door panels. They lay there, gasping, still conscious.

A dented car to explain, and headaches in the morning. That was all. Merciful, under the circumstances. Benevolent. Considerate. Soft, even.

Old man.

Old enough to be their father.

By that point Reacher had been in Virginia less than three hours.

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