By Lee Child
Center Point Large Print Edition, (2002)
Reviewed by Herbert White - April 14, 2003
M.E. Froelich is the head of the Vice President Elect's Secret Service Protection detail. She is confident that she has a superbly trained team in place that is capable of handling any threat to the Vice President of the United States. But how can she be certain? After all, no matter how much you train, it is never like the real thing. Aware of this face, and determined to do everything she can to protect the Vice President, Froelich determines to give her agents a chance to practice against the real thing.
To put her team to the ultimate test, Froelich hires Jack Reacher to plan and carry out an assassination attempt. She wants Reacher to do everything and anything that he might do in a real situation - short of actually killing the VP. In other words, she has hired Reacher to perform a real life security audit of her team, and then report back to her with any flaws he found.
Froelich quickly discovers that she has two major problems. Her team and her precautions are not as good as she first thought, and that it appears that someone is really trying to kill the VP! With that knowledge, the race is on to discover the identity of the assassin, and to stop him, or her, from carrying out his mission.
Without Fail, by Lee Child 'stars' ex-army officer Jack Reacher. This is not the first time that Reacher has appeared in one of Child's novels, and it is unlikely that this will be his last appearance. Reacher is a man's man who knows how to get a job done, and how to stay under the radar when necessary. Reacher is not perfect. He may even be a bit 'twisted' due to his past experiences. However, it is these very imperfections that make him such a memorable character.
In this case, Reacher is aided by Frances Neagley, a former Master Sargent that worked with Reacher in the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division. Both served as CID Specialist, which means that they were basically the equivalent of police detectives, with a few extra duties... Both are deadly and intelligent operatives that are uniquely qualified to carry out a 'fake' assassination, and to track down those that might be trying to do the real thing.
In the pages of this thriller you will discover that a minor love triangle forms between, Reacher, Neagley, and Froelich, who had been in love with Reacher's deceased brother. This love triangle is a minor plot element, with the main attention of the story oriented toward who might be trying to murder the former senator from North Dakota - the vice president to be, Brook Armstrong.
This is a fast-paced and absorbing thriller that takes a behind the scene look at the secret service and the machinations of Washington politics. The plot is filled with a myraid of twists and turns, and the mystery is both satisfying and well wrought. Without Fail is the sixth Reacher novel, and it is one of Child's best!
Last Man Standing, by David Baldacci.
Part police procedural, part psychological melodrama, Last Man Standing is a fast paced thriller that follows one man's attempt to rid himself of his emotional demons while at the same time tracking down those responsible for the cold-blooded murder of six of his fellow Hostage Rescue Team members. (Large Print)
Jackdaws, by Ken Follett.
This is an intriguing novel about Allied espionage and sabotage activities during World War II - carried out by an odd assortment of female agents operating behind enemy lines. (Large Print)