Past Tense

Past Tense

A Jack Reacher Novel

Book - 2018
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"Family secrets come back to haunt Jack Reacher in this electrifying thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, "a superb craftsman of suspense" (Entertainment Weekly). Jack Reacher has extended his thumb and hit the pavement. His plan is to follow the autumn sun on an epic trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn't get far. On a country road in rural New Hampshire, 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? and takes the detour. At the same moment, in the same isolated area, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians are trying to drive to New York City to sell a treasure. Now they're stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. The owners almost seem 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 knows his father left and never returned. Now Reacher wonders, Was he ever there in the first place? As Reacher explores his father's life, and strands of different stories begin to merge, he makes a shocking discovery: The present can be tough, but the past can be tense . . . and deadly"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399593512
0399593519
Branch Call Number: FICTION Child
Characteristics: 382 pages ; 24 cm

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s
ScorchingSun
Jun 15, 2020

Two separate storylines that gradually merge.
Reacher's story is always fascinating, mainly because of his eccentric, quirky and deadly personality.
The other story is, well...skippable in many of its long-winded details. The important point here is the big question: how do potential victims in similar situations fare? Survive or die? It's a coin toss. You need to read the book to find out.

j
JANO333
Feb 11, 2020

This book is a waste of energy. Not worth the time to read it. Boring! No point! Kept falling to sleep!!! But most of his books are the same, I have found.

c
chilidog12
Oct 17, 2019

best one yet..it also may have been the waiting soooo long for a new reacher book. no its the best one read it while camping, couldnt put it down. thank you lee child keep up the good work.

f
fred98115
Oct 16, 2019

Formulaic. Jack Reacher visits a town in which he lived as a child, and inquires about his family. Violence follows Reacher everywhere, including home. Subdues all the bad guys. Boggles the mind.

k
KlayDyer
Aug 14, 2019

I confess to a longstanding bromance with the fictional Jack Reacher. Not Tom Cruise’s Reacher (although he was surprising adequate in the role) but Lee Child’s Reacher, a larger-than-life fine balance of rational and reptilian brain functions guided only by his thumb (for hitchhiking) and willingness to deliver his own version of justice without hesitation. Set against a chance encounter with his paternal history, Past Tense delivers all that fans have come to expect from the previous 20+ novels in the series. Stumbling across not one but three victimized innocents (a harassed bar hostess and two young Canadians trapped literally in the hotel from hell), Reacher reacts with tactical expertise, deep humanity, and, when necessary, extreme prejudice. And always without fanfare, and with an eye towards the next ride and the next adventure. With Past Tense now, well, past tense, I am already looking forward to crossing paths with Jack again soon.

l
Larabh
Aug 06, 2019

This is the 23rd in the "Jack Reacher" series which began with "Killing Floor". It is due to Lee Child's genius that the stories stay interesting. Part of that is the hero himself, and part is the multi-layered suspense that builds slowly until the reader is trying to guess what the pivot point will be that brings the conspiracy to Reacher's attention. One of the things I find most attractive is the fact that he will mind his own business . . . .to the point where someone is being victimized by a rich and/or powerful villain. . . .then all bets are off!! I grew up on the Lone Ranger, who was another knight errant, or Black Knight, that I enjoyed watching. There are many of these in fiction. Lots of people love them.
Another layer to Reacher is that in every book there is another nugget or two of info from his backstory. Until this book , my favorite bits were his memories of his mother, but this time his father is center stage and it is JUST as fascinating as any previous back-history info from his mother's side of the family!

c
cambridgedon
Jul 22, 2019

It takes a while to lay out the plot and it seems like an old chestnut but Child delivers with aplomb with enough twists you don't see coming that the story seems fresh. Not his best but certainly nowhere near his worst - Child still has it, in spades.

r
rlcgalloway
Jul 16, 2019

This book was a fun Jack Reacher classic. It could have had a few more complications and better fleshed out secondary characters, but I enjoyed it none the less.

m
Mattou
Jul 07, 2019

This review discusses two Lee Child novels in the Reacher series: The Persuader (pub. 2017) and Past Tense (pub. 2019)
----------------------------------------------------

I was fascinated to read several negative reviews of this book; including one that suggested that it was not up to par with author Lee Child's previous work and another that said it was a 'same-old' plot line for a Jack Reacher thriller. Suffice it to say I disagree wholeheartedly with both, and here is why:
I took a bit of a Reacher break after A Wanted Man (pub. 2012), to which I gave halfhearted reviews. The first I picked up thereafter was Make Me (pub. 2015), which I very much enjoyed and blame for a certain amount of bedtime anxiety I experienced in the months following. A few months later it was The Midnight Line (pub. 2017); this choice influenced mostly by what I was finding available on library shelves, but one I found rewarding if not spectacular.
More recently I’ve delved more deeply into my neighbors’ shelves, as here in Portland, Oregon we have a wonderful network of little lending libraries where anyone can take or leave a book at will, with no commitment or paperwork of any kind. Someone in my ‘hood is obviously a Reacher fan and I have unearthed The Persuader (pub. 2017) and Past Tense (pub. 2019) in immediate and pulse-quickening succession; in such a way that I had hardly put down the former before picking up and finishing the latter. Thus, I am combining the two reviews here:
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Both of these titles bring me fully back into the Lee Child camp, I believe fully again both in Reacher and that the world may somehow be OK, despite all the baddies out there. The Persuader is a legitimate heart-accelerating page turner, even if the more assiduous Reacherites will notice some plot similarities between this and at least one previous Child creation. Nothing worthy of a Pulitzer, but a lot of ways to be entertained, and I highly recommend it.
Past Tense is a different animal in the Child stable, not because it is lacking the signature quick readability and accessible excitement that the English author has built a career upon (it has both), but because it’s the first Reacher novel I’ve read that manages completely parallel plot lines, both interesting, keeping them far enough apart to maintain the mystery but close enough that their eventual reunion makes perfect Reacher sense. I loved this book and continue to be enthralled by Child’s mastery of various literary devices, in particular his unique way abridging of dialog and grammar that hastens the read and deepens the reader’s engagement.

m
Matthew412
Jun 03, 2019

Not up to the standards that we have come to expect from Child. Maybe he's finally running out of storyline ideas. Certainly seems so here.

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Quotes

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p
pinezapper
Feb 17, 2019

But what exactly? For once in his life Reacher wasn't sure.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

Less than a dozen quotes in goodreads this morning. More here:

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.
===
Laconia, New Hampshire. A name Reacher knew. He had seen it on all kinds of historic family paperwork, and he had heard it mentioned from time to time. It was his late father’s place of birth, and where he was raised until he escaped at age seventeen to join the Marines. Such was the vague family legend. Escaped from what had not been specified. But he never went back. Not once .
===
“We were a Marine family. We were always somewhere else.”
===

Surprise was always a good thing. A wise man never counted all the way to three.
===
He gave his name as Mark Reacher. Resident outside the jurisdiction.” “Age?” “Then twenty - six .” “He could be my distant nephew, many times removed. What was he upset about?”

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

Reacher hit him in the face, with a straight right, maximum force, crashing and twisting. Like a freight train. The kid’s lights went out immediately. He went slack and gravity took over. Reacher kept his left hand rock solid. All the kid’s weight fell on his own locked elbow. Reacher waited. One of two things would happen. Either the strength and elasticity in the kid’s ligaments would roll him forward, or they wouldn’t. They didn’t. The kid’s elbow broke and his arm turned inside out. Reacher let him fall. He landed on the bricks outside the bag shop, one arm right and the other arm wrong, like a swastika.
===
Reacher had been a cop for thirteen years, and then not a cop for longer, so he saw things from both points of view.
===
Dead as a doornail. Dead as the deadest thing that ever died.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

“ How did you hurt your hand ? ” “I punched the garden wall.” “That’s an odd way to put it.” “Can’t really blame the wall.”
===
1943 was a serious year. The war was nearly two years old. Everything was rationed or in short supply. Everyone was dour and worried and working long hours. Hard to imagine any kind of giddy excitement going on good enough to attract a sixteen - year - old nine miles to the center of a stiff little New Hampshire town on a fall evening during tough times .
===
Was old enough to get a discount at the movies, but a long way from needing a cane.
===
“Tin has the potential to be dangerous. More than a hundred milligrams of tin per cubic meter of air is immediately injurious to life and health. What’s worse is when tin bonds with certain hydrocarbons to make organotin. Some of those compounds are more lethal than cyanide.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

He said, “Let him go.” Just three words, but in a tone also learned long ago, with whole extra paragraphs hidden in the dying vowel sound at the end of the phrase, about the inevitable and catastrophic result of attempted resistance.
===
“Who are you?” “Just a guy standing on the public road asking you a question.” “This is not the public road.” “That’s the problem with denial. Reality doesn’t care what you think. It just keeps rolling along. This is the road. Always was. Still is. ”
===
You said some dumb thing eight years ago. Should I twist your arm today? ”
===
“Parenting tip,” he said. “Don’t leave him lying in the road. He could get run over. ” “I won’t forget this.” “That’s the difference between us,” Reacher said. “I already have.”
===
“I hit him once. There is no smaller number. It was the irreducible minimum. It was almost kindhearted. I assume he has a dental plan. ”

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

Reacher had been a cop. He knew what it was like. Running here, running there, phones ringing, eat when you can, sleep when you can.
===
They looked like a faded billboard for an old - time black and white movie.
===
The street was empty. There were no guns. There was no action at all. Not yet. Just a staring competition. And posing.
===
“I’m trying to figure out where that would fall, on a scale of likelihood. Where ten means it’s extremely likely to happen, and one means it isn’t going to happen in a million years. I have to tell you, right now the numbers popping up in my mind are all fairly small. ”
===
Reacher lined him up and threw his punch. Legend had it the fastest hands in boxing could move at thirty miles an hour, much faster than Reacher, who was happy with twenty, but even at that slower speed his fist crossed the yard of air in front of him in a tenth of a second.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

It’s a decoy. They want you to follow it. It’s going to drive around all day at exactly twenty - nine miles an hour. It’s going to signal every turn, and you can bet your ass its tail lights are in working order. Meanwhile the real guy is in an electrician’s van. Or a plumber. Or flowers. Or whatever. We have to assume a certain amount of common sense. The real guy is going to slip into town sometime today and no one is going to notice.
===
“Your risk, I guess.” “No, the electrician’s risk. He’s going to be the paperwork, not me. What choice do I have? I can’t send him home to Boston with a pat on the back and a candy bar.
===
“Don’t let ego get in the way of a good decision.” “You just trashed every general in our nation’s history.” “You weren’t a general. Don’t make the same mistake. ”
===
As if visitors to an old people’s home made up a unique demographic. Not the recently bereaved. The soon to be. The pre - bereaved.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

Inside, the pages were numbered, and lined, and faded, and brittle, and covered in neat fountain - pen handwriting, gone watery and pale with age. He asked, “Should I be wearing white cotton gloves?” “No,” the woman said. “That’s a myth. Generally does more harm than good. ”
===
About how a baby hummingbird could be born in North America, and then fly alone two thousand miles and land on a spot the size of a pocket handkerchief. Mr . . . . Or MS. Smith figured it must have been born with a fixed instinct, directly inherited from the parent, mysteriously transmitted at a cellular level by a mechanism as yet unknown.
===
They’re Canadian, so they had healthcare growing up. You could call her strapping. That might be the right word for the woman. For him, not so much. His name is Shorty for a reason.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

When the government started commandeering every kind of basic item for the war effort, including steel and rubber and aluminum, of course, and gasoline, but also all kinds of other things. Such as rat poison. The military needed it all. For unspecified reasons. None was available on the civilian market. Like so many things. The result was the rats and mice in Ryan town grew plump and healthy. So the hawks came hustling over from wherever they had weathered the chemical storm, and they got back to work.
===
All three together, all at once. So much press and crowding there wouldn’t really be a nearest guy. Or a farthest guy, or a guy in the middle. They would all be one single unit, like a new species of animal, huge, weighing six hundred pounds, with six hands and six feet.
===
Reacher stepped down and kicked him in the head. Just once. The irreducible number. But hard. To discourage further participation.

j
jimg2000
Nov 26, 2018

Reacher insisted he feel free to take off without him. Immediately, no warning, at any time at all, for any reason or none, whatever his gut or his instincts told him. “Don’t second - guess it,” Reacher said. “Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait even half a second. ”
===
Overhead was a hawk, on the thermals. Two more, in the far distance, widely separated. Too far away to tell what kind. Stan would have said it was typical raptor behavior. Each one claimed an exclusive slice of the action. My street corner, your street corner. No trespassing. Like tough guys everywhere.
===
Reacher thought, OK, then. He knew squat about wrestling. He had never tried it. Never felt the need. Too sweaty. Too many rules. Too much like a last resort. He believed a fight should be won or lost long before it came to rolling around on the floor.

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