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Die Trying (novel)

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Die Trying
First edition (UK)
AuthorLee Child
Original titleDie Trying
SeriesJack Reacher
Release number
GenreThriller novel
PublisherBantam Press (UK), Putnam (US)
Publication date
July 1998
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback)
813/.54 21
LC ClassPS3553.H4838 D54 1998
Preceded byKilling Floor 
Followed byTripwire 

Die Trying is the second novel in the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child. It was published in 1998 by Bantam Press in the UK and by Putnam in the US. It is written in the third person.


While in Chicago, Jack Reacher is helping a young woman with an injured leg with her dry cleaning when they are captured at gunpoint by three men and thrown into a car, then transferred into a van and driven cross country. On the way, Reacher learns the woman is an FBI agent named Holly Johnson, though she does not tell him she is the daughter of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and goddaughter of the President, having been accused of being the beneficiary of nepotism all her life.

Meanwhile, Holly's fellow agents search for her. Security footage leaves Reacher as the prime suspect, and his mentor, General Leon Garber, is brought in to help, though he insists Reacher would never do such a thing. The Chicago office where Holly worked take charge, with only agent in charge McGrath and two others, Milosevic and Brogan involved. At one point, they manage to put an APB out on the van, but get the wrong van due to a transfer of vehicles.

After Reacher fails to take advantage of an opportunity to escape during the night, Holly insists that he let her handle things. However, she ends up owing him when, during another stay, one of the kidnappers, Peter Bell, tries to rape her. Reacher breaks free of his restraints, kills Bell, hides his body, and re-restrains himself before the others become suspicious. Holly finally and reluctantly accepts his help after this.

Reacher and Holly finally arrive at their destination; a mountain community that's home to a radical military sect wishing to secede from the US. Holly, intended by leader Beau Borken to be used as leverage to make her father agree to his demands, is placed in an upstairs room of an abandoned county courthouse, whose walls are supposedly filled with dynamite. She meets Jackson, an FBI agent working undercover, who offers to help her escape, but she refuses to leave without Reacher.

Meanwhile, Reacher, after witnessing Borken execute Loder, the leader of the kidnappers, for multiple failures, is shown around the camp with the intent of sending him back to the States with information on the militia's credibility. However, word soon reaches Borken of Bell's murder, and Reacher is put on trial. Learning that he'll be executed, Holly escapes her room by killing the guard that brought her food and takes her rifle. She treks across the compound and confronts Borken. As she is marching toward him, firearms of every militiaman are locked, loaded, and trained on Holly. Borken nearly has a stroke, because he knows if she gets killed—his only real leverage— the gig will be up; his plan will fail. Borken screams frantically for them not to shoot Holly. He’s gobsmacked as she calmly settles the muzzle of the stolen rifle to her own chest. With her thumb on the trigger, she tells him, if Reacher dies, she dies also. Borken ultimately commutes his sentence, and Reacher begins his first day of his punishment: five years of hard labor.

During the punishment, Reacher and Holly are forced to bury the caught Jackson's corpse, and Reacher suspects something big is about to happen. Meanwhile, the FBI figures out where the militia is. The President, fearing political fallout from a bloodbath, refuses to authorize an attack, McGrath and his men go rogue, setting up camp near the community. That night, Reacher sneaks out of his cabin and into an abandoned mine, where he finds trucks carrying missiles.

The next morning, as he returns to the camp, Reacher rescues McGrath, who was caught trying to break into the camp, proving his innocence. The two realize that Brogan and Milosevic are moles working for Borken for money. They stalk the camp to save Holly, killing Brogan in the process. Borken drags Holly out while her father watches on a spy plane camera feed and tries to force her father to give in to his demands. With a sniper rifle stolen from the ammo cabin, Reacher shoots him dead. Milosevic takes Holly hostage, but Holly manages to kill him.

As the FBI round up the remaining militia members and demolish the camp, Reacher discovers that Holly's cabin is not actually filled with dynamite and realizes that Borken sent Stevie, the last kidnapper in a truck filled with it to San Francisco, where he plans to detonate in the middle of a crowd celebrating the Fourth of July. Everyone gets in a helicopter and Reacher manages to shoot and destroy the truck on time. Learning that Holly and McGrath have feelings for each other, Reacher sadly says goodbye to her and is left to hitchhike down a highway.

Awards and nominations[edit]

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  1. ^ "WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award winners". everything2.com. Retrieved 14 June 2009.

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