From NY Times Sunday Book Review: (an excerpt)
Crime 'The Hard Way'
Soldier of Misfortune
Review by MARILYN STASIO
Published: May 21, 2006
READERS should know they're in for more than a brisk, over-and-out adventure when they crack the spine of Lee Child's latest thriller, THE HARD WAY (Delacorte, $25). They're signing on for the entire alternative universe he has created for his hero, Jack Reacher, an ex-Army cop who stays outside the establishment radar, materializing only to carry out some quasi-military mission as a favor to some worthy party or quixotic cause.
It took nine years and 10 novels for Child to get Reacher to a cafe in downtown Manhattan, drinking "espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china" — an order that already tells you something about the guy. Over those years, he has traveled the world and had a lifetime of dangerous adventures, all the while unencumbered by the usual mortal baggage of a fixed abode, credit cards or, God forbid, a suitcase. ("He owned nothing and carried nothing.") The man is such a loner it took us eight books to find out he had a mother. But she died.
Reacher is almost human in "The Hard Way," helping Edward Lane, a desperate man with an Army history much like his own, to rescue his wife and stepchild from kidnappers who keep escalating their exorbitant ransom demands. As the head of a private corporation of military-trained assassins, Lane has plenty of muscle on hand, but Reacher is the ideal operative — a killer who can think. Applying his ingenuity to this cliffhanger assignment, he analyzes every angle and brings down the bad guys in a spectacularly violent finale. And he does it all without compromising his pragmatic philosophy.
"The remorse gene was missing from his DNA," Child explains. "Where some men might have retrospectively agonized over justification, he spent his energy figuring out where best to hide the bodies." What a guy.