Bad Luck and Trouble
The reigning master at combining breakneck yet brilliantly constructed plotting with characters who continually surprise...
Now on his own for 10 years, Reacher has an ATM card and the clothes on his back—no phone, no ties, and no address—he’s a hard man to find. A loner, comfortable in his anonymity and solitude.
Performing the impossible isn’t so difficult for Frances Neagley, who manages to locate Reacher by using a signal only the eight members of their elite team of army investigators would know. She tells Reacher a harrowing story about the brutal death of a one of their own. Soon they reunite with the survivors of their old team and race to raise the living, bury the dead, and connect the dots in a mystery that grows more opaque with every new piece of information. With lives at stake, the team falls back together with apparent ease; their motto still holding true: You do not mess with the Special Investigators.
The man was called Calvin Franz and the helicopter was a Bell 222.
Franz had two broken legs, so he had to be loaded on board strapped to a stretcher. Not a difficult
maneuver. The Bell was a roomy aircraft, twin-engined, designed for corporate travel and police
departments, with space for seven passengers. The rear doors were as big as a panel van's and they
opened wide. The middle row of seats had been removed. There was plenty of room for Franz on the floor.
The helicopter was idling. Two men were carrying the stretcher. They ducked low under the rotor wash and hurried, one backward, one forward. When they reached the open door the guy who had been walking backward got one handle up on the sill and ducked away. The other guy stepped forward and shoved hard and slid the stretcher all the way inside. Franz was awake and hurting. He cried out and jerked around a little, but not much, because the straps across his chest and thighs were buckled tight. The two men climbed in after him and got in their seats behind the missing row and slammed the doors.
Then they waited.
The pilot waited.
A third man came out a gray door and walked across the concrete. He bent low under the rotor and held a hand flat on his chest to stop his necktie whipping in the wind. The gesture made him look like a guilty man proclaiming his innocence. He tracked around the Bell's long nose and got in the forward seat, next to the pilot.
"Go," he said, and then he bent his head to concentrate on his harness buckle.
The pilot goosed the turbines and the lazy whop-whop of the idling blade slid up the scale to an urgent centripetal whip-whip-whip and then disappeared behind the treble blast of the exhaust. The Bell lifted straight off the ground, drifted left a little, rotated slightly, and then retracted its wheels and climbed a thousand feet. Then it dipped its nose and hammered north, high and fast. Below it roads and science parks and small factories and neat isolated suburban communities slid past. Brick walls and metal siding blazed red in the late sun. Tiny emerald lawns and turquoise swimming pools winked in the last of the light.
The man in the forward seat said, "You know where we're going?"
The pilot nodded and said nothing.
The Bell clattered onward, turning east of north, climbing a little higher, heading for darkness. It crossed a highway far below, a river of white lights crawling west and red lights crawling east. A minute north of the highway the last developed acres gave way to low hills, barren and scrubby and uninhabited. They glowed orange on the slopes that faced the setting sun and showed dull tan in the valleys and the shadows. Then the low hills gave way in turn to small rounded mountains. The Bell sped on, rising and falling, following the contours below. The man in the forward seat twisted around and looked down at Franz on the floor behind him. Smiled briefly and said, "Twenty more minutes, maybe."
Franz didn't reply. He was in too much pain.
The Bell was rated for a 161-mph cruise, so twenty more minutes took it almost fifty-four miles,
beyond the mountains, well out over the empty desert. The pilot flared the nose and slowed a little.
The man in the forward seat pressed his forehead against the window and stared down into the darkness.
"Where are we?" he asked.
The pilot said, "Where we were before."
"What's below us now?"
"Three thousand feet."
"What's the air like up here?"
"Still. A few thermals, but no wind."
"So let's do it."
The pilot slowed more and turned and came to a stationary hover, three thousand feet above the desert floor. The man in the forward seat twisted around again and signaled to the two guys way in back. Both unlocked their safety harnesses. One crouched forward, avoiding Franz's feet, and held his loose harness tight in one hand and unlatched the door with the other. The pilot was half-turned in his own seat, watching, and he tilted the Bell a little so the door fell all the way open under its own weight. Then he brought the craft level again and put it into a slow clockwise rotation so that motion and air pressure held the door wide. The second guy from the rear crouched near Franz's head and jacked the stretcher upward to a forty-five degree slope. The first guy jammed his shoe against the free end of the stretcher rail to stop the whole thing sliding across the floor. The second guy jerked like a weightlifter and brought the stretcher almost vertical. Franz sagged down against the straps. He was a big guy, and heavy. And determined. His legs were useless but his upper body was powerful and straining hard. His head was snapping from side to side.
The first guy took out a gravity knife and popped the blade. Used it to saw through the strap around Franz's thighs. Then he paused a beat and sliced the strap around Franz's chest. One quick motion. At the exact same time the second guy jerked the stretcher fully upright. Franz took an involuntary step forward. Onto his broken right leg. He screamed once, briefly, and then took a second instinctive step. Onto his broken left leg. His arms flailed and he collapsed forward and his upper body momentum levered him over the locked pivot of his immobile hips and took him straight out through the open door, into the noisy darkness, into the gale-force rotor wash, into the night.
Three thousand feet above the desert floor.
For a moment there was silence. Even the engine noise seemed to fade. Then the pilot reversed the Bell's rotation and rocked the other way and the door slammed neatly shut. The turbines spun up again and the rotor bit the air and the nose dropped.
The two guys clambered back to their seats.
The man in front said, "Let's go home now."
Seventeen days later Jack Reacher was in Portland, Oregon, short of money. In Portland, because he had
to be somewhere and the bus he had ridden two days previously had stopped there. Short of money,
because he had met an assistant district attorney called Samantha in a cop bar, and had twice bought her
dinner before twice spending the night at her place. Now she had gone to work and he was walking away
from her house, nine o'clock in the morning, heading back to the downtown bus depot, hair still wet from
her shower, sated, relaxed, destination as yet unclear, with a very thin wad of bills in his pocket...
© Lee Child
- Bad Luck and Trouble unfolds with the simple, immaculate logic that makes this series utterly addictive.
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
[A] breathless, ultracool novel with relentless pacing... Why on earth hasn't this series hit the big screen?
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
- [A] slam-bang yarn filled with Child's usual terse life-and-death lessons.
[T]he action is intense, the pace unrelenting, and the violence unforgiving. Child remains the reigning master at combining breakneck yet brilliantly constructed plotting with characters who continually surprise us with their depth.
—Booklist, starred review
- Perhaps there are action-lit writers more recognizable than Child, but the bet is that none of them will turn in a tighter-plotted, richer-peopled, faster-paced page-turner this year.
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
- One of the best books in the series... Highly recommended.
—Library Journal, starred review
Guaranteed to keep you flipping pages... ruthlessly and relentlessly effective.
—The Portland Tribune
- Simply put, Jack Reacher, Lee Child's longtime protagonist, is the smartest, stealthiest, most suave good guy since James Bond. Life stops when a new Lee Child novel arrives; one could not pry it out of my hands!
—Andy Nettell, Arches Book Company for Book Sense
- Right from the heart-stopping opening, and all the way to its cheer-provoking climax, it compels you to read on like a cokehead greedy for line after line after line... No matter how great the odds, no matter how vulnerable he seems, Reacher somehow survives—that's why he's such a hero.
—Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard
- [P]ractically nothing is what it seems, and the meticulously detailed route to the truth proves especially engrossing thanks to the joint efforts of this band of brothers (and two sisters)... their smart-ass banter masking an unspoken affection. The villians' comeuppance, a riveting eye-for-an-eye battle scene (hint: helicopter), is one of Child's more satisfying finales.
- [P]ure, high-octane escapism from start to finish... you'll be holding on to your hat with this one.
Child achieves a perfect balance of the cerebral mystery and action adventure novel...
—Crime Spree Magazine
- The action doesn't give you too much time to catch your breath, and you sure don't want to put the book down, except to extend the pleasure of reading about one of the most unique characters in mystery fiction.
—Deadly Pleasures Magazine