When the US Secret Service suspects that one of their own agents may be behind a series of death threats against Vice-President Brook Armstrong, they need an outsider to investigate. So they hire tough former Military Policeman Jack Reacher to do the job. Reacher figures he needs someone to watch his back, so he calls up old army buddy Frances Neagley, now running a security outfit out of Chicago. Neagley is as tough as Reacher and twice as sexy.
This report prepared by Stephen Coombs
Putnam, May 2002, 24.95, 384 pp.
In charge of providing secret service protection to Vice President elect Brook Armstrong, M.E. Froelich worries about keeping the former North Dakota senator safe. She remembers a discussion with her deceased mentor and lover Joe Reacher that the best way to do a security audit is to use an outsider. She traces Joe's brother Jack, who has no paper trail, through a bank transaction in Atlantic City. M.E. hires Jack to “assassinate” the vice president.
When several days pass with no attempts by Jack, M.E. figures he did not try until he suddenly contacts her. Jack and his cohort Frances Neagley prove to M.E. that they had three definite hits on the VP if they chose to really kill him. M.E. invites Jack and Frances to meet her boss, Stuyvesant as the mock security audit was more than a test as the newly elected Veep has received threats. The Secret Service hires them to uncover if the threats are genuine and to help prevent the killing of the vice president.
Jack Reacher is already a great protagonist, but his latest appearance, WITHOUT FAIL, is his strongest adventure yet because he stays in character yet works inside a great political thriller that reaches into the highest levels of DC. Though the story line is loaded with action, the key cast members are fully developed so that new readers know Jack and long term fans appreciate Frances and M.E. Readers will demand more tales of Jack and Frances perhaps in her own series while placing Lee Child's novel at the top of the year's political thrillers.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner