The Affair (novel)
|Publisher||Bantam Press (UK), Delacorte Press (US)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback), Audio, eBook|
|Preceded by||Worth Dying For|
|Followed by||A Wanted Man|
The Affair is the sixteenth book in the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child but is a prequel set chronologically before most of them. It was published on 29 September 2011 in the United Kingdom and was published on 27 September 2011 in the USA. The Affair is a prequel set six months before Child's first novel, Killing Floor and setting out the explosive circumstances under which Reacher's career in the United States Army was terminated.
March 1997. Six months before the events of Killing Floor. Jack Reacher is still in the Army. And there's big trouble at Carter's Crossing, a small town in Mississippi where a soldier's girlfriend is found with her throat cut from ear to ear. Local trouble? Or is the killer from nearby Fort Kelham, a giant base used by elite Army Rangers?
Reacher's orders are: go undercover, keep your distance, monitor the investigation, and then vanish. But he finds it difficult to follow these instructions to the letter. Finding unexpected layers to the case, Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission—and turn him into a man to be feared.
There are heavy political considerations at stake. Captain Reed Riley, who commands one of the Ranger units based at Kelham, is the son of Senator Carlton Riley. The Senator chairs the key Armed Services Committee and has a considerable influence on the impending cuts in military spending and on which of the Armed Services would bear the heaviest burden. Having a combat officer for a son is worth a million votes to the Senator—more, should his son distinguish himself and earn a medal—and powerful forces within the United States Army have taken up the Senator's political interests as their own. They would use any means—fair or especially foul—to prevent any revelation impugning the reputation of the company commanded by Reed Riley. Accordingly, the relentless efforts at a cover-up soon result in even more dead bodies accumulating. Should Reacher find "undesirable" evidence and fail to immediately dispose of it, he might expect to be cashiered or imprisoned—or get killed himself.
Then there's the local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux. Can Reacher—and should Reacher—trust her and work together with her? He is, in fact, specifically warned to stay away from her—even by his few genuine friends in the army. Still, his more than professional interest is aroused, not only because she is extremely attractive, but also because she turns out to have served sixteen years in the Marines, in a speciality very similar to his. The two of them are, in many ways, kindred souls. Which does not stop Reacher from suspecting that she might have very dark secrets to hide.
Conflicting racial aspects to the case only serve to muddy the waters further. Eventually, the Army's official investigation produces a cast-iron prime suspect—and so does Reacher's undercover snooping. But Reacher's answer is not the same as the Army's. If he keeps quiet, will he be able to live with himself? And if he speaks out, will the army be able to live with him? Only time will tell.