The fight scenes are amazing when those full of themselves make the mistake of violating Reacher’s basic rule of (non) engagement. Each novel’s tempo grows in pace, driving the story like a drumbeat to its satisfying resolution (and the reader’s relief). The finale of Blue Moon feels like the third stage of a moon rocket, exploding toward its destination. Wernher von Braun would be proud. Then Reacher again is back on the road, as if nothing had happened. He neither needs nor takes any reward. 'Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.' Our internal code of justice, a moral true north, has been served. While that’s never easy, when it happens it feels like a priceless commodity.
Some villains are dispatched too neatly and some allies are found too rapidly, but it doesn’t matter. Reacher’s plans of attack and wry observations are what fans come for and what they get here. Child touches lightly on current issues—corrupt tech entrepreneurs, economic disparity—but keeps the action flowing in this satisfying entry.
That this is the best premise for a Reacher novel in some time, even if it's partly lifted from Akira Kurosawa's film Yojimbo, can't quite disguise that something has gone off in the series. Reacher's apologies to a suffering old couple that there's not much he can do isn't really what we want in a hero—especially one who has always taken such pleasure in pissing off bullies. Whenever the plot shifts to the machinations between the rival gangsters it bogs down in exposition. And while Reacher's ass-kickings have always been amusing, the series has never developed the dark ability to turn the violence into a deadpan sick joke. The carnage here should be funnier the more extreme it gets. It's not bad, but it's far from the tight, nifty execution that made the Reacher books so much fun to begin with. Perhaps if there were more time between chapters, Child's series could recover the polish it deserves.
Readers will cheer as Reacher and his allies, a resourceful waitress and two fellow ex-military guys he hooks up with, take the fight straight to the top of the criminal command chain. Child is at the top of his game in this nail-biter.