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The Enemy By LEE CHILD Published: Jun 2004 by Bantam Dell. 464 pages Barely into the first hour of the new decade, major Jack Reacher was unceremoniously summoned to personally handle the demise of a general. What appeared a simple, statistically plausible case mushroomed into a conspiracy involving a whole host of military and political personnel at the highest level. Reacher handled the case like the pro he was, dishing out rough justice throughout the investigation of the general’s unnatural death, yet he was busted back to Captain in the end. What happened? The Enemy is Lee Child’s eighth novel in his Jack Reacher series, which features, unsurprisingly, Jack Reacher – a loner, once soldier, today’s vigilante hero. The first eight books track Reacher’s unsolicited career in crime-solving after he left the military, and this is the prequel which takes us back to when Reacher was gainfully employed by the United States Army as a military police in the elite 110th unit. For the first time readers are given insight to how Jack Reacher played with other people – people in his command chain, above, below and parallel – to take down miscreants. As usual, Child’s prose is crisp, enthralling and very sensory which gives readers a satisfying sense of vindication when Jack Reacher doles out his brand of justice. Lee Child delivers The Enemy in first person narrative, an excellent choice to bring readers deep into Reacher’s psyche. This is quite a deviation from Child’s preferred writing style, which he has confessed is the third person narrative. Lee Child was born in UK, educated at the independent secondary school, King Edward’s School, Birmingham, which R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Ring, also attended. Lee Child then went on to study law at Sheffield University. However, he had no intention of practising law even as he studied it. He then took on various positions at Granada Television. A restructuring saw Lee Child being let go from the network, after which he decided to write novels. “Reacher” was coined when his wife commented that he could always be a reacher given his height, should his writing career not pan out. Jack Reacher, a figment of Lee Child’s imagination, has a few distinct similarities with his creator; Child himself admitted in an interview with Time magazine that Jack Reacher is exactly who he would be if he could get away with it. Reacher is tall, extraordinarily so, and was laid off too. Also similar to his creator who owns a stark white apartment where he works in, Jack Reacher is a minimalist, who takes pride in traveling with only a toothbrush and the clothes on his back since his laying off. But this is not evident from The Enemy during which Jack Reacher was traveling at the orders of the Army.

The Enemy was set in 1990, when Jack Reacher was ordered from Panama where Operation Just Cause – US’ invasion into Panama – was ongoing, to Fort Bird at North Carolina. Further up the hemisphere, the Berlin Wall was coming down, uniting Communist East Germany with democratic West Germany. The unification would render US troops that were stationed at the Wall superfluous. There were also indicators that the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US was ending, rendering many more good soldiers unnecessary. All these made the US military appear like a wrestler who had been training for years but found out that he suddenly had no opponents. It was a time of great changes, and massive upheaval from within the mighty military that potentially could spillover and affect the American society at large. This setting underscored the theme of uncertainty in every good mystery thriller. As Jack Reacher dug deeper, he opened a lethal can of worms, armed to their teeth. Jack Reacher discovered not one bad apple, but possibly a whole barrel. Despite being conferred with special powers as a military police from the elite 110th unit, it appears that Jack Reacher might eventually still be unable to unearth the master puppeteer. All these take place concurrently with Reacher dealing with his own mother’s impending demise, a result of a losing battle against cancer. We also meet Reacher’s only sibling, his elder brother, and wonder if this other Reacher could be fascinating as Jack Reacher. Introduction to Reacher’s family humanize Jack Reacher, adding another dimension to the novel, to the character. The Enemy is a riveting modern-day fantasy blended with a very healthy dose of realism. Jack Reacher understands that the world is more grey than black and white put together and multiplied, but once he has condemned someone, he has to face Reacher’s music. Even if the condemned is Reacher himself. In The Enemy, Lee Child delivers another textured, swift and bold Jack Reacher novel. Lee Child wins readers through his quality writing and suspenseful plots that make his novels in equal parts mystery and thriller. --Seo Jia Li, Shelby DipComm10 May 2011…...

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