Can it be a good Reacher novel with only two fights and Reacher not screwing the damsel in distress back to normal mental health? The answer is a qualified yes. 61 Hours falls into the Lee Child overly contrived Reacher story section along with Nothing To Lose and Echo Burning. That doesn/'t make it unreadable just of a different character than other novels in the Reacher series.
The 61 hours motif is strained and a little annoying. There is a count down from the start of the novel to the end of the novel. The entire story takes place in 61 hours – less than three days. It could be that Child was trying to give a sense of urgency and show just how much can happen in such a short length of time. Alternatively he could have been trying to see how often Reacher could complain about the cold and snow in 61 hours. Either way the story follows the Reacher formula to the letter – except for the screwing.
The premise is simple enough. Jack Reacher gets stranded in a small town that has only three businesses contributing to the economy – a state of the art prison, a recently expanded police force and methamphetamine. Throw into the mix a murder, the rumour of a hit man coming to town and Reacher/'s obvious qualifications in the area of killing and you have a reason for Reacher to be a person of interest to the local constabulary (isn/'t he always?). Following the tried and true approach of previous Reacher novels the start is methodical and lays all the ground work for the unfolding story. The problem with 61 Hours (aside from the annoying time checks) is that it is not overly complicated to figure out who the bad guy is by the time you are half way through the book. If you don/'t then you are not reading closely. On the other hand an author who gives the reader the same information as the hero is to be commended on giving the reader a fair chance to solve the detective part of the story.