Reviewed by Phyllis Seesengood

“The Affair” is sixteenth in the Jack Reacher thrillers and is a prequel for the other fifteen books in the series. It takes us back in time to March 1997 in which we learn valuable information about Jack Reacher’s background and his reasons for leaving the military.

Reacher is a 36-year-old, 6 foot 5 inch, 250-pound Army Military Police Major with hair too long and five days growth of beard when he visits General Leon Garber at the Pentagon to get what would be (unbeknownst to him) his last assignment in the military. His orders are to go undercover to Carter Crossing,Mississippito get to know the people while he investigates the death of a beautiful young woman near Fort Kelham Army Ranger base.

Reacher travels light, arriving in town with only some money, the clothes on his back and his travel size toothbrush. He doesn’t bother with laundry–just buys more clothes when he needs them.

Janice Chapman, the murder victim, likely had been dating Reed Riley, the base’s commander and the son of a prominent senator. Anxious to protect the reputation of Kelham, the army sends another officer to investigate on the army base while Reacher scrutinizes the situation as a civilian. The young woman’s fatal wound suggests that she was slain by a professional killer—possibly by an army ranger.

Before long Reacher meets the local sheriff, a gorgeous ex-Marine named Elizabeth Deveraux who immediately pegs Reacher as an undercover investigator despite his drifter-like appearance. Devereau lives at the only hotel in town where Reacher is also staying. Devereax and Reacher take more than a little interest in each other.

Reacher learns that actually there have been three beautiful women murdered over several months. He and Devereau join forces to investigate the deadly crimes. Reacher also obtains help from his contacts inWashington,D.C.and from the official investigator for the army, Major Duncan Monro, and to get at the truth. After he receives some damning information about Devereau’s life in the Marine Corps, Reacher wonders if he can trust her. Was she also involved with Captain Reilly, Reacher’s primary suspect in the women’s murders?

There isn’t a lot of action, not as much as in other Reacher novels. However, there are elements of danger and suspense, and the story involves romance, sex, and a train that thunders through town atmidnighteach night. The train plays a significant role in the story.

Lee Child writes the story in first person so readers get a real insight into our hero–his quick intelligence, his wisecracks; how he came to be the Reacher we know and love–the solitary figure who roamsAmericawith no home or possessions.

Child’s dialogue is short, sharp and witty. Dick Hill’s narration of the audiobook is superb. Hill has narrated all of the audiobooks (at least, all of the ones I’ve listened to) in his crisp, deliberate style. Therefore, to me Dick Hill is Jack Reacher.

If you haven’t read any of the novels in the Reacher series “The Affair” would be an excellent one to start with, given that it provides important background information on Reacher. I’ve read several other “Reacher” novels but so far, this is my favorite.