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Persuader    by Lee Child order for
by Lee Child
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Loner and ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is back in another action-packed and gritty thriller that grips you by the throat from page one. Reacher is drawn into a complicated FBI undercover investigation that's been set up to expose Zachery Beck, an Oriental rug importer long suspected of bringing drugs into the US. A female FBI agent was placed at Beck's home posing as a maid, to get the goods on him after a previous investigation was compromised. She since disappeared and the agent running what amounts to a rogue operation doesn't know if her operative is dead of alive. At the same time, Reacher sees an old adversary (he thought long dead) walking the streets of Boston in broad daylight. Shocked, he contacts a friend from the military and asks him to check the plates registered to the supposed dead man.

In short order the FBI is rousting Reacher, wanting to know what his interest is in the shadowy and much sought after drug dealer they identify as Quinn, known to have ties to Beck. Ultimately Reacher and the FBI agents agree to join forces for their mutual interests and set up an elaborate staged kidnapping of Beck's son, Richard, hoping it will get Reacher into the elder Beck's good graces and then his confidence. But once Reacher gets inside Beck's home, the maze of lies and mis-direction escalates. Soon Reacher isn't sure who he can trust and whether or not he'll get out alive before he can even a long overdue score.

Lee Child delivers another magnificently plotted thriller that showcases a one-of-a kind tough guy protagonist. Jack Reacher is a dark loner who has separated himself from society, yet a man who can't turn his back on certain situations. Child adds another interesting and well balanced layer to Persuader by interspersing flashbacks that take readers back ten years. This shows the growing relationship between Reacher and rookie military investigator Dominique Kohl, and the plan they hatched to nab Quinn, suspected of selling military secrets to Iraq. It becomes progressively clear why Reacher is so deadly intent on finally balancing the scales of justice - and balancing them in his own special way.

Persuader has everything thriller fans could ask for and then some: a great lead, wonderful and often quirky secondaries, the nastiest villains, plenty of non-stop action and some unexpected surprises. Don't let it slip you by and don't expect to put this book down until you turn the last page.
Note: This novel will be released in May 2003.

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