Echo Burning
A Jack Reacher thriller
Lee Child
Berkley Books

For a completists the idea of having missed a novel by a favourite author is anathema. One day while looking at my Lee Child collection it dawned on me that there was a title missing – Echo Burning book number five in the Jack Reacher series. This time around Reacher is in Texas not too far from the border of with Mexico in scrub desert country. It is hot, unbearably hot, and a storm is coming.

Reacher is doing what Reacher does he is wandering aimlessly around the country inadvertently helping out people in distress. A modern day Lancelot with a pure heart and a warriors approach to life Reacher is a former major in the military police and just can’t seem to break the habits of thinking like a cop and acting like a soldier. 

In Echo Burning the set up is unique in the Reacher series – Reacher gets picked up while hitchhiking by a beautiful (okay that part was predictable) Chicano woman named Carmen who has married into a local rich white family. As one might expect Carmen is not as graciously accepted into the family as one might expect. There are questions: is Carmen an abused woman? Is her life really under threat? Can Reacher make it right all alone in the wilds of Texas?

From the time he gets picked up Reacher’s trajectory is sealed. Any reader of the Jack Reacher series will recognize the pattern but knowing the pattern is part of the fun. We know that Reacher will help, we know he will be victorious it is all a matter of how will he get there. How will Reacher out muscle, out think and out last everyone else in a game we already know is stacked in Reacher’s favour?

In this respect Lee Child is a superb writer keeping a sustained tension in Echo Burning that is as believable as it is unrelenting. At 576 standard print pages Echo Burning will keep most readers engaged for more than a few hours. It is an easy read, well laid out and a cast of characters which are easy to follow. The little side stories are well drawn and always add to the plot. Echo Burning is a thrilling read that starts as a slow burn and finishes in a conflagration – add it to your collection.