The killer fired only six shots, and five men died; so it's not surprising that lawmen zeroed in on a trained military sniper as the culprit. The only problem is that James Barr is innocent. When he convinces former Army police investigator Jack Reacher to take his case, however, the danger actually escalates….
Mr. Child's idea of heroism has nihilism around the edges but a fierce, fighting spirit at its core. In marked contrast to the brooding figures who otherwise dominate contemporary detective stories, Reacher is not one for self-doubt. His is a two-fisted decency. But Mr. Child also gives him amazing powers of deduction, a serious conscience and the occasional touch of tenderness. It's a wildly improbable mixture, one that can't be beat.
The New York Times
While reader Hill has proven himself to be an all-purpose narrator with a 200-plus audiography, his specialty is interpreting suspense and crime fiction like this bullet-paced thriller. Written lean enough to make Hemingway seem chatty, the ninth novel to feature the resourceful ex-military cop Jack Reacher begins with a bare-bones description of an unemotional sniper prepping for and carrying out a mass slaying in the business area of an unnamed Indiana city. The killer's dispassion is chilling, and Hill, who has narrated the author's previous titles, matches the mood with an objectivity that raises the goose-bump level even higher. When Reacher, one of fiction's more reticent heroes, arrives on the scene, Hill provides him with a brusque, confident, properly manly voice, but adds a note of wariness that subtly suggests the adventurer's cynical nature. This tops a gallery of smart audio portraits, each with his own identifiable accent. Child has purposely designed the novel to move forward unfettered by stylish flourishes, and Hill follows that plan, concentrating mainly on increasing the pace as the story speedballs to its satisfying conclusion. Simultaneous release with the Delacorte hardcover (Reviews, May 23). (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Accused of five murders in what looks like an open-and-shut case, the bad guy fires his last shot: he wants to speak to Jack Reacher. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Reacher's back and Child's got him tracking a complex case, springing surprises and dispatching a nasty crew in a punishing finish. For number nine in the Jack Reacher series, author Child (The Enemy, 2004, etc.) dispatches his singular hero to Indiana, where a sniper has just taken out five victims as they headed home on a Friday afternoon. Evidence at the scene-notably, a shell case and a quarter bearing the same fingerprints-seems to clinch the case against James Barr, a former Army Infantry sniper. He's arrested but insists he's the wrong man: "Get Jack Reacher for me," he says. But the game is not quite afoot. Instead of clearing Barr, Reacher wants to convict him. Years ago, it seems, Reacher was an investigating MP when Barr, in an attack very similar to the Indiana shootout, shot and killed four people in Kuwait City. Twisted military politics, however, intervened in the case and Barr walked free. Reacher vowed revenge. But now Barr's sister Rosemary, convinced of her brother's innocence, entreats lawyer Helen Rodin to take the case-a case that Rodin's father, the district attorney, will prosecute. The suspect, alas, recovering from a prison beating that has left him suffering from amnesia, offers little information to help his plight. Still, Helen and Rosemary grab at straws, and, sifting through their clues in a keen, fascinating analysis, Reacher concludes Barr really is innocent. Who, then, set up Barr as the sniper? And who is trying to get Reacher off the case? Is it the Russian gang that's been shadowing him since he arrived in town? Who's behind the thugs who tried to work over Reacher when he left a local sports bar? Are they also behind the murder of a woman Reacher metthere? Child caps his steadily building narrative with a gonzo action scene that seems a little heavy for Indiana. Par for the series: canny plotting, tight prose, swift tempo.
From the Publisher
"Reacher's back ... gonzo action ... canny plotting, tight prose, swift tempo."—Kirkus Reviews
"Nothing is what it seems in the riveting puzzle, as vivid set pieces and rapid-fire dialogue culminate in a slam-bang showdown in the villains' lair."—Publishers Weekly
"Child has a gift for throwing you a curve just when you think you've seen it all."—Rocky Mountain News
"Sparse prose and fast pacing—[One Shot] is sure to be found in many hammocks this summer."—Chicago Tribune
"If you're looking for a new series, this [the Jack Reacher novels] is one of the best in the thriller genre."—Salt Lake Tribune
“Electrifying . . . This series is utterly addictive.”—New York Times
Read an Excerpt
By Lee Child
Random House Lee Child
All right reserved.
C H A P T E R 2
Reacher was on his way to them because of a woman. He had spent Friday night in South Beach, Miami, in a salsa club, with a dancer from a cruise ship. The boat was Norwegian, and so was the girl. Reacher guessed she was too tall for ballet, but she was the right size for everything else. They met on the beach in the afternoon. Reacher was working on his tan. He felt better brown. He didn't know what she was working on. But he felt her shadow fall across his face and opened his eyes to find her staring at him. Or maybe at his scars. The browner he got, the more they stood out, white and wicked and obvious. She was pale, in a black bikini. A small black bikini. He pegged her for a dancer long before she told him. It was in the way she held herself.
They ended up having a late dinner together and then going out to the club. South Beach salsa wouldn't have been Reacher's first choice, but her company made it worthwhile. She was fun to be with. And she was a great dancer, obviously. Full of energy. She wore him out. At four in the morning she took him back to her hotel, eager to wear him out some more. Her hotel was a small Art Deco place near the ocean. Clearly the cruise line treated its people well. Certainly it was a much more romantic destination than Reacher's own motel. And much closer.
And it had cable television, which Reacher's place didn't. He woke at eight on Saturday morning when he heard the dancer in the shower. He turned on the TV and went looking for ESPN. He wanted Friday night's American League highlights. He never found them. He clicked his way through successive channels and then stopped dead on CNN because he heard the chief of an Indiana police department say a name he knew: James Barr. The picture was of a press conference. Small room, harsh light. Top of the screen was a caption that said: Courtesy NBC. There was a banner across the bottom that said: Friday Night Massacre. The police chief said the name again, James Barr, and then he introduced a homicide detective called Emerson. Emerson looked tired. Emerson said the name for a third time: James Barr. Then, like he anticipated the exact question in Reacher's mind, he ran through a brief biography: Forty-one years old, local Indiana resident, U.S. Army infantry specialist from 1985 to 1991, Gulf War veteran, never married, currently unemployed.
Reacher watched the screen. Emerson seemed like a concise type of a guy. He was brief. No bullshit. He finished his statement and in response to a reporter's question declined to specify what if anything James Barr had said during interrogation. Then he introduced a District Attorney. This guy's name was Rodin, and he wasn't concise. Wasn't brief. He used plenty of bullshit. He spent ten minutes claiming Emerson's credit for himself. Reacher knew how that worked. He had been a cop of sorts for thirteen years. Cops bust their tails, and prosecutors bask in the glory. Rodin said James Barr a few more times and then said the state was maybe looking to fry him.
A local anchor called Ann Yanni came on. She recapped the events of the night before. Sniper slaying. Senseless slaughter. An automatic weapon. A parking garage. A public plaza. Commuters on their way home after a long workweek. Five dead. A suspect in custody, but a city still grieving.
Reacher thought it was Yanni who was grieving. Emerson's success had cut her story short. She signed off and CNN went to political news. Reacher turned the TV off. The dancer came out of the bathroom. She was pink and fragrant. And naked. She had left her towels inside.
"What shall we do today?" she said, with a wide Norwegian smile.
"I'm going to Indiana," Reacher said.
He walked north in the heat to the Miami bus depot. Then he leafed through a greasy timetable and planned a route. It wasn't going to be an easy trip. Miami to Jacksonville would be the first leg. Then Jacksonville to New Orleans. Then New Orleans to St. Louis. Then St. Louis to Indianapolis. Then a local bus, presumably, south into the heartland. Five separate destinations. Arrival and departure times were not well integrated. Beginning to end, it was going to take more than forty-eight hours. He was tempted to fly or rent a car, but he was short of money and he liked buses better and he figured nothing much was going to happen on the weekend anyway.
What happened on the weekend was that Rosemary Barr called her firm's investigator back. She figured Franklin would have a semiindependent point of view. She got him at home, ten o'clock in the morning on the Sunday.
"I think I should hire different lawyers," she said.
Franklin said nothing.
"David Chapman thinks he's guilty," Rosemary said. "Doesn't he?
So he's already given up."
"I can't comment," Franklin said. "He's one of my employers."
Now Rosemary Barr said nothing.
"How was the hospital?" Franklin asked.
"Awful. He's in intensive care with a bunch of prison deadbeats. They've got him handcuffed to the bed. He's in a coma, for God's sake. How do they think he's going to escape?"
"What's the legal position?"
"He was arrested but not arraigned. He's in a kind of limbo.
They're assuming he wouldn't have gotten bail."
"They're probably right."
"So they claim under the circumstances it's like he actually didn't get bail. So he's theirs. He's in the system. Like a twilight zone."
"What would you like to happen?"
"He shouldn't be in handcuffs. And he should be in a VA hospital at least. But that won't happen until I find a lawyer who's prepared to help him."
Franklin paused. "How do you explain all the evidence?"
"I know my brother."
"You moved out, right?"
"For other reasons. Not because he's a homicidal maniac."
"He blocked off a parking space," Franklin said. "He premeditated this thing."
"You think he's guilty, too."
"I work with what I've got. And what I've got doesn't look good."
Rosemary Barr said nothing.
"I'm sorry," Franklin said.
"Can you recommend another lawyer?"
"Can you make that decision? Do you have a power of attorney?"
"I think it's implied. He's in a coma. I'm his next of kin."
"How much money have you got?"
"How much has he got?"
"There's some equity in his house."
"It won't look good. It'll be like a kick in the teeth for the firm you work for."
"I can't worry about that."
"You could lose everything, including your job."
"I'll lose it anyway, unless I help James. If he's convicted, they'll let me go. I'll be notorious. By association. An embarrassment."
"He had your sleeping pills," Franklin said.
"I gave them to him. He doesn't have insurance."
"Why did he need them?"
"He has trouble sleeping."
Franklin said nothing.
"You think he's guilty," Rosemary said.
"The evidence is overwhelming," Franklin said.
"David Chapman isn't really trying, is he?"
"You have to consider the possibility that David Chapman is right."
"Who should I call?"
"Try Helen Rodin," he said.
"She's the DA's daughter."
"I don't know her."
"She's downtown. She just hung out her shingle. She's new and she's keen."
"Is it ethical?"
"No law against it."
"It would be father against daughter."
"It was going to be Chapman, and Chapman knows Rodin a lot better than his daughter does, probably. She's been away for a long time."
"College, law school, clerking for a judge in D.C."
"Is she any good?"
"I think she's going to be."
Rosemary Barr called Helen Rodin on her office number. It was like a test. Someone new and keen should be at the office on a Sunday.
Helen Rodin was at the office on a Sunday. She answered the call sitting at her desk. Her desk was secondhand and it sat proudly in a mostly empty two-room suite in the same black glass tower that had NBC as the second-floor tenant. The suite was rented cheap through one of the business subsidies that the city was throwing around like confetti. The idea was to kick-start the rejuvenated downtown area and clean up later with healthy tax revenues.
Rosemary Barr didn't have to tell Helen Rodin about the case because the whole thing had happened right outside Helen Rodin's new office window. Helen had seen some of it for herself, and she had followed the rest on the news afterward. She had caught all of Ann Yanni's TV appearances. She recognized her from the building's lobby, and the elevator.
"Will you help my brother?" Rosemary Barr asked.
Helen Rodin paused. The smart answer would be No way. She knew that. Like No way, forget about it, are you out of your mind? Two reasons. One, she knew a major clash with her father was inevitable at some point, but did she need it now? And two, she knew that a new lawyer's early cases defined her. Paths were taken that led down fixed routes. To end up as a when-all-else-fails criminal-defense attorney would be OK, she guessed, all things considered. But to start out by taking a case that had offended the whole city would be a marketing disaster. The shootings weren't being seen as a crime. They were being seen as an atrocity. Against humanity, against the whole community, against the rejuvenation efforts downtown, against the whole idea of being from Indiana. It was like LA or New York or Baltimore had come to the heartland, and to be the person who tried to excuse it or explain it away would be a fatal mistake. Like a mark of Cain. It would follow her the rest of her life.
"Can we sue the jail?" Rosemary Barr asked. "For letting him get hurt?"
Helen Rodin paused again. Another good reason to say no. An unrealistic client.
"Maybe later," she said. "Right now he wouldn't generate much sympathy as a plaintiff. And it's hard to prove damages, if he's heading for death row anyway."
"Then I can't pay you much," Rosemary Barr said. "I don't have money."
Helen Rodin paused for a third time. Another good reason to say no. It was a little early in her career to be contemplating pro bono work.
But. But. But.
The accused deserved representation. The Bill of Rights said so. And he was innocent until proven guilty. And if the evidence was as bad as her father said it was, then the whole thing would be little more than a supervisory process. She would verify the case against him independently. Then she would advise him to plead guilty. Then she would watch his back as her father fed him through the machine. That was all. It could be seen as honest dues-paying. A constitutional chore. She hoped.
"OK," she said.
"He's innocent," Rosemary Barr said. "I'm sure of it."
They always are, Helen Rodin thought.
"OK," she said again. Then she told her new client to meet her in her office at seven the next morning. It was like a test. A sister who really believed in her brother's innocence would show up for an early appointment.
Rosemary Barr showed up right on time, at seven o'clock on Monday morning. Franklin was there, too. He believed in Helen Rodin and was prepared to defer his bills until he saw which way the wind was blowing. Helen Rodin herself had already been at her desk for an hour. She had informed David Chapman of the change in representation on Sunday afternoon and had obtained the audiotape of his initial interview with James Barr. Chapman had been happy to hand it over and wash his hands. She had played the tape to herself a dozen times Sunday night and a dozen more that morning. It was all anyone had of James Barr. Maybe all anyone was ever going to get. So she had listened to it carefully, and she had drawn some early conclusions from it.
"Listen," she said.
She had the tape cued up and ready in an old-fashioned machine the size of a shoe box. She pressed Play and they all heard a hiss and breathing and room sounds and then David Chapman's voice: I can't help you if you won't help yourself. There was a long pause, full of more hiss, and then James Barr spoke: They got the wrong guy. . . . They got the wrong guy, he said again. Then Helen watched the tape counter numbers and spooled forward to Chapman saying: Denying it is not an option. Then Barr's voice came through: Get Jack Reacher for me. Helen spooled onward to Chapman's question: Is he a doctor? Then there was nothing on the tape except the sound of Barr beating on the interview room door.
"OK," Helen said. "I think he really believes he didn't do it. He claims as much, and then he gets frustrated and terminates the interview when Chapman doesn't take him seriously. That's clear, isn't it?"
"He didn't do it," Rosemary Barr said.
"I spoke with my father yesterday," Helen Rodin said. "The evidence is all there, Ms. Barr. He did it, I'm afraid. You need to accept that a sister maybe can't know her brother as well as she'd like. Or if she once did, that he changed for some reason."
There was a long silence.
"Is your father telling you the truth about the evidence?" Rosemary asked.
"He has to," Helen said. "We're going to see it all anyway. There's the discovery process. We're going to take depositions.
Excerpted from One Shot by Lee Child Excerpted by permission.
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