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Past Tense
Cover of Past Tense
Past Tense
A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Family secrets come back to haunt Jack Reacher in this electrifying thriller from "a superb craftsman of suspense" (Entertainment Weekly).
Jack Reacher hits the pavement and sticks out his thumb. He plans to follow the sun on an epic trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn't get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been: the town where his father was born. He thinks, What's one extra day? He takes the detour.
At the same moment, in the same isolated area, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians had been on their way to New York City to sell a treasure. Now they're stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. The owners seem almost too friendly. It's a strange place, but it's all there is.
The next morning, in the city clerk's office, Reacher asks about the old family home. He's told no one named Reacher ever lived in town. He's always known his father left and never returned, but now Reacher wonders, Was he ever there in the first place?

As Reacher explores his father's life, and as the Canadians face lethal dangers, strands of different stories begin to merge. Then Reacher makes a shocking discovery: The present can be tough, but the past can be tense . . . and deadly.
Don't miss a sneak peek of Lee Child's novel Blue Moon in the back of the book.
Praise for Past Tense

"Child is one writer who should never be taken for granted."The New York Times Book Review
"[Lee Child] shows no signs of slowing down. . . . Reacher is a man for whom the phrase moral compass was invented: His code determines his direction. . . . You need Jack Reacher."The Atlantic
"Superb . . . Child neatly interweaves multiple narratives, ratchets up the suspense (the reveal of the motel plot is delicious), and delivers a powerful, satisfying denouement. Fans will enjoy learning more of this enduring character's roots, and Child's spare prose continues to set a very high bar."Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)
"Another first-class entry in a series that continues to set the gold standard for aspiring thriller authors."Booklist (starred review)
"With his usual flair for succinctness and eye for detail, Child creates another rollicking Reacher road trip that will please fans and newcomers alike."Library Journal (starred review)
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Family secrets come back to haunt Jack Reacher in this electrifying thriller from "a superb craftsman of suspense" (Entertainment Weekly).
Jack Reacher hits the pavement and sticks out his thumb. He plans to follow the sun on an epic trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn't get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been: the town where his father was born. He thinks, What's one extra day? He takes the detour.
At the same moment, in the same isolated area, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians had been on their way to New York City to sell a treasure. Now they're stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. The owners seem almost too friendly. It's a strange place, but it's all there is.
The next morning, in the city clerk's office, Reacher asks about the old family home. He's told no one named Reacher ever lived in town. He's always known his father left and never returned, but now Reacher wonders, Was he ever there in the first place?

As Reacher explores his father's life, and as the Canadians face lethal dangers, strands of different stories begin to merge. Then Reacher makes a shocking discovery: The present can be tough, but the past can be tense . . . and deadly.
Don't miss a sneak peek of Lee Child's novel Blue Moon in the back of the book.
Praise for Past Tense

"Child is one writer who should never be taken for granted."The New York Times Book Review
"[Lee Child] shows no signs of slowing down. . . . Reacher is a man for whom the phrase moral compass was invented: His code determines his direction. . . . You need Jack Reacher."The Atlantic
"Superb . . . Child neatly interweaves multiple narratives, ratchets up the suspense (the reveal of the motel plot is delicious), and delivers a powerful, satisfying denouement. Fans will enjoy learning more of this enduring character's roots, and Child's spare prose continues to set a very high bar."Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)
"Another first-class entry in a series that continues to set the gold standard for aspiring thriller authors."Booklist (starred review)
"With his usual flair for succinctness and eye for detail, Child creates another rollicking Reacher road trip that will please fans and newcomers alike."Library Journal (starred review)
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    Jack Reacher caught the last of the summer sun in a small town on the coast of Maine, and then, like the birds in the sky above him, he began his long migration south. But not, he thought, straight down the coast. Not like the orioles and the buntings and the phoebes and the warblers and the ruby-­throated hummingbirds. Instead he decided on a diagonal route, south and west, from the top right-­hand corner of the country to the bottom left, maybe through Syracuse, and Cincinnati, and St. Louis, and Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque, and onward all the way to San Diego. Which for an army guy like Reacher was a little too full of Navy people, but which was otherwise a fine spot to start the winter.

    It would be an epic road trip, and one he hadn't made in years.

    He was looking forward to it.

    He didn't get far.

    He walked inland a mile or so and came to a county road and stuck out his thumb. He was a tall man, more than six feet five in his shoes, heavily built, all bone and muscle, not particularly good looking, never very well dressed, usually a little unkempt. Not an overwhelmingly appealing proposition. As always most drivers slowed and took a look and then kept on going. The first car prepared to take a chance on him came along after forty minutes. It was a year-­old Subaru wagon, driven by a lean middle-­aged guy in pleated chino pants and a crisp khaki shirt. Dressed by his wife, Reacher thought. The guy had a wedding ring. But under the fine fabrics was a workingman's body. A thick neck and large red knuckles. The slightly surprised and somewhat reluctant boss of something, Reacher thought. The kind of guy who starts out digging post holes and ends up owning a fencing company.

    Which turned out to be a good guess. Initial conversation established the guy had started out with nothing to his name but his daddy's old framing hammer, and had ended up owning a construction company, responsible for forty working people, and the hopes and dreams of a whole bunch of clients. He finished his story with a little facial shrug, part Yankee modesty, part genuine perplexity. As in, how did that happen? Attention to detail, Reacher thought. This was a very organized guy, full of notions and nostrums and maxims and cast-­iron beliefs, one of which was that at the end of summer it was better to stay away from both Route One and I-­95, and in fact to get out of Maine altogether as fast as possible, which meant soon and sideways, on Route Two, straight west into New Hampshire. To a place just south of Berlin, where the guy knew a bunch of back roads that would get them down to Boston faster than any other way. Which was where the guy was going, for a meeting about marble countertops. Reacher was happy. Nothing wrong with Boston as a starting point. Nothing at all. From there it was a straight shot to Syracuse. After which Cincinnati was easy, via Rochester and Buffalo and Cleveland. Maybe even via Akron, Ohio. Reacher had been in worse places. Mostly in the service.

    They didn't get to Boston.

    The guy got a call on his cell, after fifty-­some minutes heading south on the aforementioned New Hampshire back roads. Which were exactly as advertised. Reacher had to admit the guy's plan was solid. There was no traffic at all. No jams, no delays. They were bowling along, doing sixty miles an hour, dead easy. Until the phone rang. It was hooked up to the car radio, and a name came up on the navigation screen, with a thumbnail photograph as a visual aid, in this case of a red-­faced man wearing a hard hat and carrying a clipboard. Some kind of a foreman on a job site. The guy at the wheel touched a button and...
About the Author-
  • Lee Child is the author of twenty-two New York Times bestselling Jack Reacher thrillers, with thirteen having reached the #1 position, and the #1 bestselling complete Jack Reacher story collection, No Middle Name. All his novels have been optioned for major motion pictures—including Jack Reacher (based on One Shot) and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Foreign rights in the Reacher series have sold in one hundred territories. A native of England and a former television director, Lee Child lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2018

    Arriving in his father's hometown in New Hampshire, Jack Reacher finds two stranded young Canadians and no evidence that his father ever lived there.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 10, 2018
    Early in bestseller Child’s superb 23rd Jack Reacher novel (after 2017’s The Midnight Line), the peripatetic Reacher reaches a fork in a road in rural New Hampshire; he chooses the path heading to Laconia, “his late father’s place of birth.” At the same time, just 30 miles away, a young Canadian couple on their way south have car trouble and stop at a small motel, finding they’re apparently its only guests. Reacher uncovers few traces of his father’s existence, other than a 75-year-old assault case in which Stan Reacher is named. But he does stir up a world of trouble when he steps in to help a woman under attack and gives her assailant—the son of a well-connected underworld figure—a humiliating beating. While Reacher is dealing with a revenge posse, the Canadian couple discover just how strange their motel is. Child neatly interweaves multiple narratives, ratchets up the suspense (the reveal of the motel plot is delicious), and delivers a powerful, satisfying denouement. Fans will enjoy learning more of this enduring character’s roots, and Child’s spare prose continues to set a very high bar. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2018
    On his way to the West Coast, Jack Reacher takes a detour to New Hampshire to check out some family history in the 23rd book in Child's (The Midnight Line, 2017, etc.) series.Laconia, New Hampshire, is the setting for the latest showcase for Reacher's unconscious talent for stirring up the latent murderous violence in any bucolic setting he chooses to enter. In this case, the hubbub comes in the form of a local mob family after Reacher unleashes his own form of discipline on a younger member of the clan when the beardless thug attempts to assault a waitress. Paid muscle is soon on the way north from Boston, but both Reacher and his constant readers know that kind of goon is never a match for him. And so Reacher and reader are free to ponder the puzzling story about our hero's past. It seems that there is no official record of Reacher's dad, who grew up in Laconia, but there is evidence to suggest he may have played a hand in the murder of a sociopath terrorizing the town in his day. All of this is intercut with the ordeal of a young Canadian couple driving south to New York to score some money by selling the goods they've got hidden away in a suitcase. Their car breaks down just outside a remote motel that, they gradually discover, is not as welcoming as it seems. It doesn't take long to figure out what's waiting for them there, though it takes a bit too long for Reacher's story to join theirs. Nevertheless, the tone doesn't go blooey here, as it has in some of the recent series entries, and the way everything winds up for all the participants shows a satisfying generosity of storytelling spirit.The Reacher series gets back on its rough and rocky track with this latest companionable entry.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Jack Reacher Novel
Lee Child
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