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  • The Hard Way: A Jack Reacher Novel
  • Written by Lee Child
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  • Written by Lee Child
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On Sale: May 16, 2006
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-440-33605-1
Published by : Delacorte Press Bantam Dell

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On Sale: August 12, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-553-54616-3
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money because Edward Lane, the man who paid it, would do anything to get his family back.

Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And Jack Reacher is the best manhunter in the world.

On the trail of vicious kidnappers, Reacher learns the chilling secrets of his employer’s past . . . and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. He knows that Edward Lane is hiding something. Something dirty. Something big. But Reacher also knows this: He’s already in way too deep to stop now. And if he has to do it the hard way, he will.

Excerpt

Chapter One


JACK REACHER ORDERED espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived at his table he saw a man's life change forever. Not that the waiter was slow. Just that the move was slick. So slick, Reacher had no idea what he was watching. It was just an urban scene, repeated everywhere in the world a billion times a day: A guy unlocked a car and got in and drove away. That was all.

But that was enough.

The espresso had been close to perfect, so Reacher went back to the same cafeŽ exactly -twenty--four hours later. Two nights in the same place was unusual for Reacher, but he figured great coffee was worth a change in his routine. The café was on the west side of Sixth Avenue in New York City, in the middle of the block between Bleecker and Houston. It occupied the ground floor of an undistinguished -four--story building. The upper stories looked like anonymous rental apartments. The cafe itself looked like a transplant from a back street in Rome. Inside it had low light and scarred wooden walls and a dented chrome machine as hot and long as a locomotive, and a counter. Outside there was a single line of metal tables on the sidewalk behind a low canvas screen. Reacher took the same end table he had used the night before and chose the same seat. He stretched out and got comfortable and tipped his chair up on two legs. That put his back against the cafe's outside wall and left him looking east, across the sidewalk and the width of the avenue. He liked to sit outside in the summer, in New York City. Especially at night. He liked the electric darkness and the hot dirty air and the blasts of noise and traffic and the manic barking sirens and the crush of people. It helped a lonely man feel connected and isolated both at the same time.

He was served by the same waiter as the night before and ordered the same drink, double espresso in a foam cup, no sugar, no spoon. He paid for it as soon as it arrived and left his change on the table. That way he could leave exactly when he wanted to without insulting the waiter or bilking the owner or stealing the china. Reacher always arranged the smallest details in his life so he could move on at a split second's notice. It was an obsessive habit. He owned nothing and carried nothing. Physically he was a big man, but he cast a small shadow and left very little in his wake.

He drank his coffee slowly and felt the night heat come up off the sidewalk. He watched cars and people. Watched taxis flow north and garbage trucks pause at the curbs. Saw knots of strange young people heading for clubs. Watched girls who had once been boys totter south. Saw a blue German sedan park on the block. Watched a compact man in a gray suit get out and walk north. Watched him thread between two sidewalk tables and head inside to where the cafe staff was clustered in back. Watched him ask them questions.

The guy was medium height, not young, not old, too solid to be called wiry, too slight to be called heavy. His hair was gray at the temples and cut short and neat. He kept himself balanced on the balls of his feet. His mouth didn't move much as he talked. But his eyes did. They flicked left and right tirelessly. The guy was about forty, Reacher guessed, and furthermore Reacher guessed he had gotten to be about forty by staying relentlessly aware of everything that was happening around him. Reacher had seen the same look in elite infantry veterans who had survived long jungle tours.

Then Reacher's waiter turned suddenly and pointed straight at him. The compact man in the gray suit stared over. Reacher stared back, over his shoulder, through the window. Eye contact was made. Without breaking it the man in the suit mouthed thank you to the waiter and started back out the way he had entered. He stepped through the door and made a right inside the low canvas screen and threaded his way down to Reacher's table. Reacher let him stand there mute for a moment while he made up his mind. Then he said "Yes," to him, like an answer, not a question.

"Yes what?" the guy said back.

"Yes whatever," Reacher said. "Yes I'm having a pleasant evening, yes you can join me, yes you can ask me whatever it is you want to ask me."

The guy scraped a chair out and sat down, his back to the river of traffic, blocking Reacher's view.

"Actually I do have a question," he said.

"I know," Reacher said. "About last night."

"How did you know that?" The guy's voice was low and quiet and his accent was flat and clipped and British.

"The waiter pointed me out," Reacher said. "And the only thing that distinguishes me from his other customers is that I was here last night and they weren't."

"You're certain about that?"

"Turn your head away," Reacher said. "Watch the traffic."

The guy turned his head away. Watched the traffic.

"Now tell me what I'm wearing," Reacher said.

"Green shirt," the British guy said. "Cotton, baggy, cheap, doesn't look new, sleeves rolled to the elbow, over a green T-shirt, also cheap and not new, a little tight, untucked over -flat--front khaki chinos, no socks, English shoes, pebbled leather, brown, not new, but not very old either, probably expensive. Frayed laces, like you pull on them too hard when you tie them. Maybe indicative of a -self--discipline obsession."

"OK," Reacher said.

"OK what?"

"You notice things," Reacher said. "And I notice things. We're two of a kind. We're peas in a pod. I'm the only customer here now who was also here last night. I'm certain of that. And that's what you asked the staff. Had to be. That's the only reason the waiter would have pointed me out."

The guy turned back.

"Did you see a car last night?" he asked.

"I saw plenty of cars last night," Reacher said. "This is Sixth Avenue."

"A Mercedes Benz. Parked over there." The guy twisted again and pointed on a slight diagonal at a length of empty curb by a fire hydrant on the other side of the street.

Reacher said, "Silver, four-door sedan, an S-420, New York vanity plates starting OSC, a lot of city miles on it. Dirty paint, scuffed tires, dinged rims, dents and scrapes on both bumpers."

The guy turned back again.

"You saw it," he said.

"It was right there," Reacher said. "Obviously I saw it."

"Did you see it leave?"

Reacher nodded. "Just before eleven -forty--five a guy got in and drove it away."

"You're not wearing a watch."

"I always know what time it is."

"It must have been closer to midnight."

"Maybe," Reacher said. "Whatever."

"Did you get a look at the driver?"

"I told you, I saw him get in and drive away."

The guy stood up.

"I need you to come with me," he said. Then he put his hand in his pocket. "I'll buy your coffee."

"I already paid for it."

"So let's go."

"Where?"

"To see my boss."

"Who's your boss?"

"A man called Lane."

"You're not a cop," Reacher said. "That's my guess. Based on observation."

"Of what?"

"Your accent. You're not American. You're British. The NYPD isn't that desperate."

"Most of us are Americans," the British guy said. "But you're right, we're not cops. We're private citizens."

"What kind?"

"The kind that will make it worth your while if you give them a description of the individual who drove that car away."

"Worth my while how?"

"Financially," the guy said. "Is there any other way?"

"Lots of other ways," Reacher said. "I think I'll stay right here."

"This is very serious."

"How?"

The guy in the suit sat down again.

"I can't tell you that," he said.

"Goodbye," Reacher said.

"Not my choice," the guy said. "Mr. Lane made it -mission--critical that nobody knows. For very good reasons."

Reacher tilted his cup and checked the contents. Nearly gone.

"You got a name?" he asked.

"Do you?"

"You first."

In response the guy stuck a thumb into the breast pocket of his suit coat and slid out a black leather business card holder. He opened it up and used the same thumb to slide out a single card. He passed it across the table. It was a handsome item. Heavy linen stock, raised lettering, ink that still looked wet. At the top it said: Operational Security Consultants.

"OSC," Reacher said. "Like the license plate."

The British guy said nothing.

Reacher smiled. "You're security consultants and you got your car stolen? I can see how that could be embarrassing."

The guy said, "It's not the car we're worried about."
Lower down on the business card was a name: John Gregory. Under the name was a subscript: British Army, Retired. Then a job title: Executive Vice President.

"How long have you been out?" Reacher asked.

"Of the British Army?" the guy called Gregory said. "Seven years."

"Unit?"

"SAS."

"You've still got the look."

"You too," Gregory said. "How long have you been out?"

"Seven years," Reacher said.

"Unit?"

"U.S. Army CID, mostly."

Gregory looked up. Interested. "Investigator?"

"Mostly."

"Rank?"

"I don't remember," Reacher said. "I've been a civilian seven years."

"Don't be shy," Gregory said. "You were probably a lieutenant colonel at least."

"Major," Reacher said. "That's as far as I got."

"Career problems?"

"I had my share."

"You got a name?"

"Most people do."

"What is it?"

"Reacher."

"What are you doing now?"

"I'm trying to get a quiet cup of coffee."

"You need work?"

"No," Reacher said. "I don't."

"I was a sergeant," Gregory said.

Reacher nodded. "I figured. SAS guys usually are. And you've got the look."

"So will you come with me and talk to Mr. Lane?"

"I told you what I saw. You can pass it on."

"Mr. Lane will want to hear it direct."

Reacher checked his cup again. "Where is he?"

"Not far. Ten minutes."

"I don't know," Reacher said. "I'm enjoying my espresso."

"Bring it with you. It's in a foam cup."

"I prefer peace and quiet."

"All I want is ten minutes."

"Seems like a lot of fuss over a stolen car, even if it was a Mercedes Benz."

"This is not about the car."

"So what is it about?"

"Life and death," Gregory said. "Right now more likely death than life."

Reacher checked his cup again. There was less than a lukewarm -eighth--inch left, thick and scummy with espresso mud. That was all. He put the cup down.

"OK," he said. "So let's go."
Lee Child|Author Q&A

About Lee Child

Lee Child - The Hard Way

Photo © Sigrid Estrada

Lee Child is the author of seventeen Jack Reacher thrillers, including the New York Times bestsellers Persuader, The Enemy, One Shot, and The Hard Way, and the #1 bestsellers The Affair, Worth Dying For, 61 Hours, Gone Tomorrow, Bad Luck and Trouble, and Nothing to Lose, as well as the short stories “Second Son” and “Deep Down.” His debut, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and The Enemy won both the Barry and Nero awards for Best Novel. Foreign rights in the Reacher series have sold in more than forty territories. All titles have been optioned for major motion pictures, the first of which - “Jack Reacher” - will be released in December. A native of England and a former television director, Child lives in New York City, where he is at work on his next thriller, Never Go Back.

Author Q&A

1. The Hard Way is set in New York City. Reacher is a wanderer, sometimes finding himself in small towns and sometimes in major cities. What made you decide to set a Reacher novel in New York?

I was living there full-time when I wrote it, which is part of the answer. The other part is that New York seems to be a home even for wanderers. Everyone needs a favorite place, and New York might just be Reacher's.

2. On a related note…one of the great mysteries about Reacher is where he goes when he’s not in a novel. For example, The Hard Way begins with Reacher sipping coffee on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Readers wonder what was he doing three days before? A week before? How did he happen be in New York? How did he arrive there? When you sit down and write, do you give thought to that, or just to where he is headed next?

People sometimes complain that dangerous and exciting things happen to Reacher too frequently to be credible. I reply, it's only once a year—I write the other 364 books, but the publisher won't publish them, because they're too boring. So prior to his fateful espresso on Sixth Avenue, Reacher was drifting as usual—starting from Seattle, I think, and winding up in Manhattan that same morning, probably.

3. One of the more compelling aspects of the Reacher series is watching him guess wrong and then witnessing what he does to get back on the right path. How do you go about creating those situations? What do you start with?

I start with the available information, and let him take an intelligent guess. Sometimes he's right, and sometimes he's wrong. I want to keep him this side of Superman, so he can't get everything right.

4. One of the things that we love about the Reacher series is the way in which elements of Reacher’s personality are sprinkled like bread crumbs throughout the novels. In The Hard Way, for example, we learn a bit about Jack’s music tastes. Do you plan these bits of information or do they work their way in as you write?

Sometimes his tastes and experiences give him special insights, which are planned along with the plot, but mostly it's just a case of snippets of human interest cropping up as I go along.

5. You have become so identified with the Reacher series that Reacher almost is associated with you as an alter-ego. How much of Lee Child is in Jack Reacher?

Well, I'm real and he's fictional, but otherwise we're twins. In other words, if I could get away with it, I'd do what he does. All of it!

6. You have talked about the Reacher series being written so a reader unfamiliar with Reacher can pick up any book and read it without having to read what has gone before. Did you have that in mind when you first conceived the series?

Yes, I did. Personally I don't like references from one book to another— they strike me as too twee. So I made my mind up to avoid them. It makes the series accessible—The Hard Way is as good a place to start as any—and it fits with Reacher's personality: he likes to look forward, not back.

7. Lauren Pauling is one of our favorite female leads from your books. What inspired her? Is there a chance we will see Pauling in a future book—either an upcoming Reacher adventure or her own book?

Never say never, but to bring characters back might invite the kind of thing I just said I was trying to avoid. But I'm always happy when readers say they want a character to come back—it means the character worked.

8. One of the "givens" in Reacher novels is the intimate knowledge of the setting. While The Hard Way is set primarily in New York, where you reside, in other books Reacher moves across the Eastern half of the United States. Do you travel extensively, looking for sites for future Reacher novels? And once you find one, how do you research the intimacies of the city?

I do the research backward—I travel for other reasons—fun or promotion—and then later I might recall a place as being good for a novel's location. By which time I've forgotten the specifics—but don't forget Reacher only ever passes through, so first impressions are all he gets.

9. When you finally begin to write a novel, what is your writing schedule like?

I work from September through March. Maybe six hours a day, six days a week, with a couple of breaks.

10. You worked in television before becoming a bestselling novelist. Could you share how you made the transition from working for the small screen to writing novels? Had you always wanted to write novels full-time?

I always wanted to work in entertainment. I love the notion of pleasing an audience. The transition felt like a minor adjustment of medium, rather than a major adjustment of content.

11. We hear Jack Reacher is being "put on trial" at Thriller Fest, the International Thriller Writers conference in Phoenix, Arizona this July. What can you share with readers about that?

It's three things, really: a desire to make Thriller Fest a little different in style, plus a new approach to promoting the basic Reacher message (He's a tough guy, but he's got a heart of gold) and, I suppose, a wider examination of thriller ethics: we rely on our heroes to bend the rules, but do we really approve of that?

12. Have you ever had the urge to begin another series, with new characters, or perhaps with someone from one of the Reacher novels?

No, Reacher is what my readers want, and who am I to argue?

13. You are currently working on your eleventh Jack Reacher novel. What is the most challenging part of writing a long-running series? What can you tell us about the book?

Two challenges: one is to re-introduce the character each time in a way that explains him to new readers without boring existing readers; and to give a footloose wanderer like Reacher some emotional roots. Next year's book—Bad Luck and Trouble—kills both those birds by being about the past: a former colleague is murdered and another asks Reacher to put the old unit back together to investigate. First problem: most of the old unit is missing.

Praise

Praise

"A Reacher novel is the closest thing to guaranteed joy short of a honeymoon."—Rocky Mountain News

"Reacher, a former Army military police major, is a character like no other. Intuitive, independent, indomitable - he walks softly and carries a very big stick."—The Biloxi Sun Herald

"Plenty of suspense writers play the tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold card, but Child is indelibly skillful, quickly sketching intriguing characters as he drops bombshell after bombshell. With its taciturn but engaging hero and almost unbearably prolonged tension, The Hard Way makes reading easy indeed."—The Miami Herald

"In The Hard Way, Reacher is better than ever."—Contra Costa Times

"Fans...will find themselves hanging onto their armchairs for dear life. The Hard Way is a breathless, well-paced thriller."—Denver Post

“Nine red-hot books ago, Lee Child concocted the rough, tough Superman of the crime-busting genre, as smart and charismatic as he is unbeatable. And then Mr. Child broke the mold. Early next week (why delay good news?), Reacher returns in this series' 10th installment, The Hard Way. It's one more labyrinthine story that takes off like a shot: as usual, Mr. Child has you at hello.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Plunges Reacher into one of his most challenging-and thoroughly engrossing-adventures to date."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Like all the best thrillers, this one is about more than pace--the narrative propels you forward with a locomotive’s thrust, but Child never loses sight of the small detail or the human fabric."—Booklist, starred review

"[Child] shows again his mastery of the thriller.... Jack Reacher may know the time to the minute without a watch and bring justice to bear wherever he goes, but this time he doest it the hard way, sweating the details and working the clues.... Tension builds through the plot twists to another riveting finish."—Library Journal, starred review

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