The Affair by Lee Child was the first book I read in 2013 and it was a nice and easy read. Not deviating from his standard formula, Lee Child writes again about Jack Reacher, this time going back to his past, his time in the army and the place where the Reacher we know and love started his life out of the army.
Reacher is sent undercover to Charing Crossing where a young woman has been murdered. The army is afraid that a soldier from the nearby army base might be involved and it is Reacher’s task to find out as much as he can. Reacher meets local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux and they start working together reluctantly, uncertain if they can trust each other. The army is counting on Reacher to cover up any possible scandal, but Reacher is determined to do the right thing. He ends up taking justice into his own hands, the Reacher way.
This book was a nice, light read which I finished in about a day. Compared to the older Reacher books, this one was not one of the best. I think it is generally hard to go back in time with a character that is so well known by readers. The character has to be stripped of everything he has learned in all the books that have already been published and the readers have to almost forget everything they have learned about the character. I do not think Lee Child carried it off very well. The impressions Reacher has of life outside of the army, his decision to travel without luggage, to buy new clothes and discard the old ones when they are dirty, almost seem forced as Child tries to show us how Reacher came to live his very minimalistic life style.
The ending was disappointing as well. The way Reacher solves the crimes seemed out of character for him. Sure, he has never shown any hesitation to take justice into his own hands and he has never shrunk away from using violence, but it all seemed a bit over the top. I also doubt that someone who has been part of the army for all of his life would have made a decision like that.