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Sinopsis: The secretive, closed organization that invites Jack Reacher in is the Secret Service, the organization that protects the Presidency. Someone who was once close to Reacher's brother, needs help in her new job. Her new job? Saving the Vice President of the United States from being assassinated.
Review: What better way to test the security surrounding a U.S. vice president-elect than to hire someone skilled in the killing arts to penetrate his protection? Assassination strategy, though, is only part of the assignment facing Jack Reacher in Without Fail. This restive, blunt-edged ex-military cop must also determine whether recent threats against VP-to-be Senator Brook Armstrong are legitimate or are primarily intended to embarrass the perfectionist head of Armstrong's new Secret Service detail, M.E. Froelich, who happens to have been a girlfriend of Reacher's late brother.
If Without Fail lacks the emotional urgency of Lee Child's previous novel, Echo Burning, it still barely lets the reader catch a decent breath between plot crests. Jack and his fetching yet formidable colleague, Frances Neagley, must figure out how warning letters to Armstrong are being delivered into the Secret Service sanctum, whether the senator is at risk because of something political or personal, and who staged the demonstration murders of two innocent men also named Armstrong, first initial B. Unfortunately, a few twists (including the source of a thumbprint applied to the threats against Armstrong) can be figured out in advance, and the story is light on character development. A tiny breach in Reacher's reclusive carapace opens as Froelich transfers the love she once felt for his brother toward him, and there are suggestions that Neagley may have depths of feeling just waiting to be plumbed. However, other players are mere ciphers--the sacrificial victims of an action-oriented yarn. --J. Kingston Pierce
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