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The Enemy    by Lee Child order for
by Lee Child
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

It's New Year's Eve, 1990, the Berlin Wall is coming down and the Soviet Union is about to fall. Jack Reacher, military policeman, has been hastily re-assigned to Fort Bird after a stint in Panama. He's on duty when he receives a call about a two star general, found dead from natural causes in a seedy motel where clients pay by the hour.

What at first seems like a minor embarrassment (one the military can adeptly cover up) soon turns into a multiple murder investigation, after Reacher and his assistant find the dead general's wife bludgeoned to death in her home. Within the next twenty-four hours, two Special Forces officers are also murdered - one execution style, the other as a gruesome reminder that gay officers are not tolerated in the military. To complicate matters further, Reacher is implicated in the second killing because of an exchange he had with the Delta Force officer during his preliminary investigation into the general's death. His new CO is more than willing to fabricate cover-ups, and orders Reacher to follow his lead. But Reacher isn't about to ignore his gut feeling that all four murders are somehow tied together - and he also has to deal with the fact that an entire Delta Force unit is out for his blood. It seems to Reacher that the information contained in the dead general's missing brief case is key not only to the identity of the killers, but also to a much deeper and sinister military conspiracy.

The Enemy is a top-notch military thriller that ranks right up there with the best in the genre. While more procedural in nature than previous high-octane Jack Reacher entries, it's intensely gripping. After seven books in the series, Lee Child finally delves into Reacher's military background and shows how he meticulously sifts through clues, leads, and countless threats, in search of the right answers. A strong sub-plot shows Reacher's relationship with older brother Joe, as they travel back to France to spend time with their dying mother. There they learn surprising facts about a past she never discussed with them. Child interweaves this secondary plotline with skill, yet still delivers information sparingly, giving readers just enough to explain how these particular events of 1990 helped shape the tough, solitary man Jack Reacher will become. As a prequel, The Enemy works very well, and is another strong entry in an already outstanding series.

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