Jack Reacher novels are like pizza. Even when they’re soggy, or mass produced, or too thin, or too thick, or just plain bad, they’re still pizza. Which means they’re still good, and I’m perfectly happy to spend a Friday night with a plate full. Night School, by Lee Child, is a solid pizza pie, with pepperoni or maybe fried onions. Nothing fancy. Nothing so amazing that I’ll be thinking about reordering it for the next week-and-a-half. Just good, reliable pizza.
Night School is a flashback Reacher, taking place in 1996 while the man himself is still in the army. Under the auspices of sending him back to school, Reacher is instead teamed up with the FBI and CIA to track a terrorist cell in Germany that has just arranged payment of $100 million, a huge amount that has to mean something big is coming. Reacher then proceeds to do what he does best, with all the laconic brutalness and well-designed twists a Reacher novel needs.
Look, I love the Jack Reacher books. I would read them forever if Lee Child would do me the favor of living forever and writing at least one a year. Night School is a good one. Not my favorite, and not necessarily the most memorable, but it’s a fun, fast read with a couple familiar faces, like Sergeant Neagley, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the kind of Reacher novel that would transfer well to a film or, better yet, a TV series.
Child’s prose becomes more spartan with each new book he writes, which I find to be a positive. For all the details that we see through Reacher’s practiced eye, it never becomes bogged down or old. It’s like Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and its sequels), which is over a thousand pages of people talking and drinking coffee, yet it works in an impressively compelling way. I am not so concise with my own fiction, but I like to think there’s a middle ground between Lee Child and obnoxiously verbose that I tend to occupy.
But let’s get back to Night School. Good pizza. Enough toppings. Satisfyingly filling. And a good place to start if you’ve never read any Jack Reacher books. So get on it, friends!
4 / 5 stars