Book Review – The Sentinel by Lee and Andrew Child – The exhilaration is missing!
My Rating – 3.5 out of 5
This is the first Jack Reacher Book which is not written by Lee Child and he’s handed over the baton to his younger brother Andrew Child (Grant). For millions of Reacher fans worldwide, Lee’s decision to retire at the beginning of 2020 came as a shock, with Reacher’s future looking uncertain.
But then Andrew stepped in and under Lee’s guidance, has published the first Jack Reacher not penned by Lee Child. How’s that shaped up? Read on to find out!
Plot Summary – Book review
As per the standard template, Jack catches a lift with an insurance salesman and lands in a no name town near Pleasantville, Tennessee. Before long though, Reacher walks into a kidnapping off the street ploy. Rusty Rutherford, the town’s ex IT Manager, walks out of his regular coffee shop and starts walking back to his apartment.
But on the way, two cars come to halt near him and four people, waiting on the sidewalks around the cafe, zone in on him, looking to push him into the waiting cars. They are professionals and had the entire plan worked out to a ‘T’. Only thing they hadn’t bargained for – Jack Reacher, the ex MP of the US Army, a force on his own!
Reacher takes in the situation, realizes the ambush about to happen and as is his wont, steps in. After dealing with the threat in his trademark fashion, he wants to know from Rusty, why would a professional team lay out an elaborate scheme to kidnap the harmless IT Manager of a nondescript town in the backwoods of Tennessee. A initially reticent and wary Rusty decides that his best chances of survival lies behind the hulking presence of Reacher.
About a week back, the town’s IT infrastructure came under a vicious Ransomware attack, which paralyzed all systems of the town, down to its lone traffic signal. The insurance guy Reacher blew into town with, is here to negotiate a settlement with the attackers and restore normalcy to the town. As the IT Manager, Rusty has been blamed by all residents, for not being able to protect the town’s systems from hackers and then for not being able to bring those systems back up.
Rusty had been trying to get the town’s administrative board to upgrade the security systems to prevent just such an attack, but was always overruled. Now the cows have come home and he’s their favorite scapegoat. Reacher suggests that he leave town till the dust settles and any threat to him is neutralized or ceases to exist. He can then come back and reclaim his job if possible. But Rusty refuses, he won’t leave till he is exonerated and residents realize it wasn’t his fault to begin with.
Rusty also had a side project going, with an Ex-FBI IT sleuth, Sarah. They had jointly developed a security app which could take backups and prevent ransomware attacks but in its first iteration, the app didn’t work as it was supposed to and the dejected duo had more or less let it go. What Reacher couldn’t figure out is what did Rusty have that could set off such a professional attack? What was Rusty not telling?
In what had started off as a perplexing case of cyber-attack followed by a kidnapping attempt, many layers come forth as Reacher peels off one after another. There’s a foreign power involved, so is the FBI. Even local ex-cops are involved. So what is this big secret everybody’s trying to unearth or hide, depending on which side you are on? Read this to find out!
Conclusion of the Book Review
Upfront, this reads different than all other Reacher novels. Lee Child’s staccato dialog delivery is absent, replaced by an uncharacteristically chatty Reacher. There’s no romance on the side, unlike the earlier ones. It almost feels like it did to see Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher – a pretender to the crown! Hopefully, either Lee goes back to authoring the series again or Andrew grows into his brother’s rather large shoes!
For Reacher fans, this is definitely not to be missed, it’s pace is breathtaking but you’ll be slightly disappointed to note the change in tonality of the much loved series!
*Keep watching this space for more, meanwhile you can check the earlier book reviews from the links below…*