Rachel is always ready to run – she’s a Reacher, born with special powers and always hunted by the mysterious Institute. Always hunted, always funning – always ready to hide even in this broken England, brought down by economic disaster and war.
Now she has to run again – but she may have finally found help, two brothers with an involved past, their own secrets ad a painful history they are determined to resolve. If she helps them, she may have finally found the allies she needs to survive and a life worth living
I really like this vision of dystopian England – one brought apart from financial collapse and repeated wars that have brought the country down. It hasn’t produced a complete wasteland – but it has produced a very British seeming wasteland
The government and wealth has concentrated in the south east – as the government collapsed they’ve focused on the south east and left much of the rest of the country to fall into ruins torn by war (as a Yorkshireman I am manfully resisting snarking whether this is a dystopia or contemporary. Yes yes I am). London is still relatively wealthy and stable – but has carefully isolated itself from the shanty town around it, fencing it in and creating a lawless, corrupt land run by gangland. A gangland that could have come straight from the pages of an old British gangster novel – or gangster documentary.
I like how very very British the book is – some books have an excellent sign of time and place while others feel like just a name put on a generic setting. This is England, beyond doubt.
And I love how this whole underworld plotline works. The almost cartoonish characters, each with their own agendas and motives which makes for a wonderful story of doublecross and not quite knowing who to trust as everyone has secrets, everyone has their own agendas. On top of that we have a wonderful sense of the old guard under threat. These gangsters have seen their empire fall apart and are desperate to rebuild it – but to do so requires desperate measures and a whole lot of paranoia. Everyone – from the Smith brothers trying to recover from their loss, to Pinky trying to rebuild his empire to Rachel trying to rebuild her life – everyone has lost something and everyone is trying to rebuild. Thematically that sense of decline and stress is really excellently conveyed.
For personal preference I would have really liked more to be made of the Reachers – these humans with special powers. What exactly are they and what exactly is the scope of their powers? Beyond the fact they have them what exactly are they? In some ways it’s interesting because the powers are used as a major plot point: they’re valuable and can occasionally do the odd shiny power thrown in, far more is unexplained than not. I think that’s because it’s not supposed to be a book all about the shiny powers but about the powerful characters – with the powers as a plot point driving them more than an integral part themselves