Never Go Back (Jack Reacher Series #18) (with bonus novella High Heat)

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher Series #18) (with bonus novella High Heat)

by Lee Child

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Never go back—but Jack Reacher does, and the past finally catches up with him. . . . Never Go Back is a novel of action-charged suspense starring “one of the best thriller characters at work today” (Newsweek).
Former military cop Jack Reacher makes it all the way from snowbound South Dakota to his destination in northeastern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. The old stone building is the closest thing to a home he ever had.
Reacher is there to meet—in person—the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner, so far just a warm, intriguing voice on the phone.
But it isn’t Turner behind the CO’s desk. And Reacher is hit with two pieces of shocking news, one with serious criminal consequences, and one too personal to even think about.
When threatened, you can run or fight.
Reacher fights, aiming to find Turner and clear his name, barely a step ahead of the army, and the FBI, and the D.C. Metro police, and four unidentified thugs.
Combining an intricate puzzle of a plot and an exciting chase for truth and justice, Lee Child puts Reacher through his paces—and makes him question who he is, what he’s done, and the very future of his untethered life on the open road.

Don’t miss Lee Child’s short story “High Heat” in the back of the book.

Praise for Never Go Back
“A breathless cross-country spree . . . some of the best, wiliest writing [Lee] Child has ever done . . . Child’s bodacious action hero, Jack Reacher, has already tramped through 17 novels and three e-book singles. But his latest, Never Go Back, may be the best desert island reading in the series. It’s exceptionally well plotted. And full of wild surprises. And wise about Reacher’s peculiar nature. And positively Bunyanesque in its admiring contributions to Reacher lore.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Welcome to the relentless world of Jack Reacher and his impressive tendency to be in the wrong place at the right time. . . . Child has created an iconic character that other thriller writers try to emulate but don’t come close to matching. He has a talent for taking material that in the hands of other authors would be stale and making it seem fresh. . . . Tight and compelling . . . Never Go Back is one of Child’s best novels.”—Associated Press
“An adrenaline-charged, action-packed thriller . . . impossible to put down.”—Lansing State Journal
“The dialogue has never been sharper. . . . The pages turn themselves.”—San Antonio Express-News

“For the pure pleasure of uncomplicated, nonstop action, no one touches Reacher.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Brilliant . . . Child never, ever slips. He keeps the action cranking better than anyone, but, best of all, he keeps us guessing about Reacher.”Booklist (starred review)
“One of the best in the series.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440339373
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Series: Jack Reacher Series
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 2,731
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Lee Child is the author of nineteen New York Times bestselling Jack Reacher thrillers, ten of which have reached the #1 position. All have been optioned for major motion pictures; the first, Jack Reacher, was based on One Shot. Foreign rights in the Reacher series have sold in almost a hundred territories. A native of England and a former television director, Lee Child lives in New York City.


Birmingham, England

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Coventry, England


Sheffield University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Eventually they put Reacher in a car and drove him to a motel a mile away, where the night clerk gave him a room, which had all the features Reacher expected, because he had seen such rooms a thousand times before. There was a raucous through-the-wall heater, which would be too noisy to sleep with, which would save the owner money on electricity. There were low-watt bulbs in all the fixtures, likewise. There was a low-pile carpet that after cleaning would dry in hours, so the room could rent again the same day. Not that the carpet would be cleaned often. It was dark and patterned and ideal for concealing stains. As was the bedspread. No doubt the shower would be weak and strangled, and the towels thin, and the soap small, and the shampoo cheap. The furniture was made of wood, all dark and bruised, and the television set was small and old, and the curtains were gray with grime.

All as expected. Nothing he hadn’t seen a thousand times before.

But still dismal.

So before even putting the key in his pocket he turned around and went back out to the lot. The air was cold, and a little damp. The middle of the evening, in the middle of winter, in the northeastern corner of Virginia. The lazy Potomac was not far away. Beyond it in the east, D.C.’s glow lit up the clouds. The nation’s capital, where all kinds of things were going on.

The car that had let him out was already driving away. Reacher watched its tail lights grow faint in the mist. After a moment they disappeared completely, and the world went quiet and still. Just for a minute. Then another car showed up, brisk and confident, like it knew where it was going. It turned into the lot. It was a plain sedan, dark in color. Almost certainly a government vehicle. It aimed for the motel office, but its headlight beams swung across Reacher’s immobile form, and it changed direction, and came straight at him.

Visitors. Purpose unknown, but the news would be either good or bad.

The car stopped parallel with the building, as far in front of Reacher as his room was behind him, leaving him alone in the center of a space the size of a boxing ring. Two men got out of the car. Despite the chill they were dressed in T-shirts, tight and white, above the kind of athletic pants sprinters peel off seconds before a race. Both men looked more than six feet and two hundred pounds. Smaller than Reacher, but not by much. Both were military. That was clear. Reacher could tell by their haircuts. No civilian barber would be as pragmatic or brutal. The market wouldn’t allow it.

The guy from the passenger side tracked around the hood and formed up with the driver. The two of them stood there, side by side. Both wore sneakers on their feet, big and white and shapeless. Neither had been in the Middle East recently. No sunburn, no squint lines, no stress and strain in their eyes. Both were young, somewhere south of thirty. Technically Reacher was old enough to be their father. They were NCOs, he thought. Specialists, probably, not sergeants. They didn’t look like sergeants. Not wise enough. The opposite, in fact. They had dull, blank faces.

The guy from the passenger side said, “Are you Jack Reacher?”

Reacher said, “Who’s asking?”

“We are.”

“And who are you?”

“We’re your legal advisors.”

Which they weren’t, obviously. Reacher knew that. Army lawyers don’t travel in pairs and breathe through their mouths. They were something else. Bad news, not good. In which case immediate action was always the best bet. Easy enough to mime sudden comprehension and an eager approach and a hand raised in welcome, and easy enough to let the eager approach become unstoppable momentum, and to turn the raised hand into a scything blow, elbow into the left-hand guy’s face, hard and downward, followed by a stamp of the right foot, as if killing an imaginary cockroach had been the whole point of the manic exercise, whereupon the bounce off the stamp would set up the same elbow backhand into the right-hand guy’s throat, one, two, three, smack, stamp, smack, game over.

Easy enough. And always the safest approach. Reacher’s mantra was: Get your retaliation in first. Especially when outnumbered two-to-one against guys with youth and energy on their side.

But. He wasn’t sure. Not completely. Not yet. And he couldn’t afford a mistake of that nature. Not then. Not under the circumstances. He was inhibited. He let the moment pass.

He said, “So what’s your legal advice?”

“Conduct unbecoming,” the guy said. “You brought the unit into disrepute. A court martial would hurt us all. So you should get the hell out of town, right now. And you should never come back again.”

“No one mentioned a court martial.”

“Not yet. But they will. So don’t stick around for it.”

“I’m under orders.”

“They couldn’t find you before. They won’t find you now. The army doesn’t use skip tracers. And no skip tracer could find you anyway. Not the way you seem to live.”

Reacher said nothing.

The guy said, “So that’s our legal advice.”

Reacher said, “Noted.”

“You need to do more than note it.”

“Do I?”

“Because we’re offering an incentive.”

“What kind?”

“Every night we find you still here, we’re going to kick your ass.”

“Are you?”

“Starting tonight. So you’ll get the right general idea about what to do.”

Reacher said, “You ever bought an electrical appliance?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“I saw one once, in a store. It had a yellow label on the back. It said if you messed with it you ran the risk of death or serious injury.”


“Pretend I’ve got the same kind of label.”

“We’re not worried about you, old man.”

Old man. For no good reason Reacher saw an image of his father in his mind. Somewhere sunny. Okinawa, possibly. Stan Reacher, born in Laconia, New Hampshire, a Marine captain serving in Japan, with a wife and two teenage sons. Reacher and his brother had called him the old man, and he had seemed old, even though at that point he must have been ten years younger than Reacher was that night.

“Turn around,” Reacher said. “Go back wherever you came from. You’re in over your heads.”

“Not how we see it.”

“I used to do this for a living,” Reacher said. “But you know that, right?”

No response.

“I know all the moves,” Reacher said. “I invented some of them.”

No reply.

Reacher still had his key in his hand. Rule of thumb: don’t attack a guy who just came through a door that locks. A bunch is better, but even a single key makes a pretty good weapon. Socket the head against the palm, poke the shaft out between the index and middle fingers, and you’ve got a fairly decent knuckleduster.

But. They were just dumb kids. No need to get all bent out of shape. No need for torn flesh and broken bones.

Reacher put his key in his pocket.

Their sneakers meant they had no plans to kick him. No one kicks things with soft white athletic shoes. No point. Unless they were aiming to deliver blows with their feet merely for the points value alone. Like one of those martial arts fetishes with a name like something off a Chinese food menu. Tae Kwon Do, and so on. All very well at the Olympic Games, but hopeless on the street. Lifting your leg like a dog at a hydrant was just begging to get beat. Begging to get tipped over and kicked into unconsciousness.

Did these guys even know that? Were they looking at his own feet? Reacher was wearing a pair of heavy boots. Comfortable, and durable. He had bought them in South Dakota. He planned to keep on wearing them all winter long.

He said, “I’m going inside now.”

No response.

He said, “Goodnight.”

No response.

Reacher half turned and half stepped back, toward his door, a fluid quarter circle, shoulders and all, and like he knew they would the two guys moved toward him, faster than he was moving, off-script and involuntary, ready to grab him.

Reacher kept it going long enough to let their momentum establish, and then he whipped back through the reverse quarter circle toward them, by which time he was moving just as fast as they were, two hundred and fifty pounds about to collide head-on with four hundred, and he kept on twisting and threw a long left hook at the left-hand guy. It caught him as designed, hard on the ear, and the guy’s head snapped sideways and bounced off his partner’s shoulder, by which time Reacher was already throwing a right-hand uppercut under the partner’s chin. It hit like a how-to diagram and the guy’s head went up and back the same way his buddy’s had bounced around, and almost in the same second. Like they were puppets, and the puppeteer had sneezed.

Both of them stayed on their feet. The left-hand guy was wobbling around like a man on a ship, and the right-hand guy was stumbling backward. The left-hand guy was all unstable and up on his heels and his center mass was open and unprotected. Reacher popped a clubbing right into his solar plexus, hard enough to drive the breath out of him, soft enough not to cause lasting neurological damage. The guy folded up and crouched and hugged his knees. Reacher stepped past him and went after the right-hand guy, who saw him coming and swung a feeble right of his own. Reacher clouted it aside with his left forearm and repeated the clubbing right to the solar plexus.

The guy folded in half, just the same.

After that it was easy enough to nudge them around until they were facing in the right direction, and then to use the flat of his boot sole to shove them toward their car, first one, and then the other. They hit head-on, pretty hard, and they went down flat. They left shallow dents in the door panels. They lay there, gasping, still conscious.

A dented car to explain, and headaches in the morning. That was all. Merciful, under the circumstances. Benevolent. Considerate. Soft, even.

Old man.

Old enough to be their father.

By that point Reacher had been in Virginia less than three hours.

Customer Reviews

Never Go Back 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 568 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just read the first 51 pages - Jack Reacher at his best. CAN'T PUT THE BOOK DOWN. It only gets better. But Tom Cruise in the movie - come on Mr Child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an absolute huge disappointment. Wasted money, wasted anticipation. The scenarios were ridiculous and the reasons for things and circumstances were preposterous. I find it hard to believe that the person who wrote this book is the same person who wrote all of the other Reacher's. Where were Child's editors? Where are Child's people who are supposed to read these books for mistakes and meaning and overall cohesiveness? Phrases repeated? I can't tell you how many times I wanted to quit because the story line was so convoluted but I couldn't see throwing away the money and I kept holding out hope that it would get better. If you are a long-time, read-all-of-them, dedicated fan, it is obvious how the genius of detail and keen wit are just nonexistent. If I seem angry, I am. I have time and a small fortune invested in this series. Something is definitely wrong. Ever since there was no explanation of how Reacher got out of the bunker (because it wasn't possible after all the denominators Child included), there have been times in books where specific actions have been created and then just ignored - no solution ever mentioned. What an insult to your readers' intelligence (not to mention their pocketbooks). Add all that in, and combine it with the total betrayal of the Tom Cruise debaucle and I'm out - no way I would spend another second or dollar on this brand.
LosAngelesDan More than 1 year ago
Always a top-notch read. Fast moving storytelling. You cannot put it down once you start, so clear your calendar. P.S., Tom Cruise is NOT Jack Reacher!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book, but i agree with other posters. Cant bn do something to these blamed kids that play on the review sites? This is not a chat room. Please bn. Ban them, fine them but get them off the nook with their games.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jack Reacher is still the best. I cant wait for the next one. Cruise is not and cannot be jack reacher. Cruise did not change Lee Child's Jack Reacher. This book is a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this without putting it down; and that's a first for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After I saw the movie, I had to know what all the fuss was about so I read The Killing Floor. Seventeen books later, I still enjoy the straightforward style, the constant surprises, and the continued development of Reacher as an anti hero. This is my favorite in the series so far and a great read. I only wish the next would be available soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I forget the first Reacher book I ever read, but I instantly was intrigued by the character and plot. I went back and read the first book and worked my way through every Reacher book chronologically. I remember reading each book eagerly and enjoying every page and chapter, looking forward to the conclusion, yet wishing it wasn't over. At least I could look forward to Reacher's next journey. When I eventually completed The Wanted Man, I couldn't wait for Never Go Back to come out to see what would happen if Reacher would be able to put a face to a voice from his recent past. This story was foreshadowed in those earlier escapades and doesn't dissapoint. Unexpected situations arise, as usual, and Reacher again finds himself putting his trust in the right people and dealing with the untrustworthy in his own direct way. I again find myself with mixed feelings; satiated that I have come to the conclusion of another Reacher adventure, melancholy as I have no more pages to turn, and spirited to know that Lee Child has a couple more challenges ahead for Mr. Jack Reacher. I have not seen the Tom Cruise version of Jack Reacher. I don't want to spoil the exquisite notion I have in my head of one of my favorite characters in this world of book to movie. I have always found the film version falls short of the imagery capable of one's mind.
DblGee More than 1 year ago
I miss reading Jack Reacher books - unfortunately I can't do it....every time I think of Jack Reacher I picture Tom Cruise - haven't been able to make myself open one since :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The chance that you'll like this one? 50/50 Mr. Child is running out of clever.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
I don’t read many spy/military thrillers, but I do pull one out on occasion. This was my first Jack Reacher novel, though I doubt it will be my last. Easily comparable to the Bourne books, it was a fast-paced read that kept me engaged the entire time. Written mostly in the first person, Jack had a definite style of thought, and therefore a particular style of narrative. It was a little choppy at first, but I adapted quickly and it seemed to fit with his character. The story itself was a wild ride from start to finish. Not only was he having to prove his own innocence throughout the story, he must help prove Major Turner’s as well; all while there are three different groups trying to catch him or kill him in the process. The two main characters are like two peas in a pod. Though I can’t personally relate to their histories or career, they are characters that you come to care about and hope things work out for. Both are no-nonsense, to the point, and extremely detail oriented. All traits necessary for military excellence and movement up the ranks to being CO of the 110th. Their chemistry left a little to be desired, but this wasn’t a romance, and obviously caters more to its predominantly male audience, as it should. Overall, a good plot, good characters, and good storytelling. Though I don’t plan to go read every Reacher novel ever written, I won’t hesitate to pick up another one at some point. Rating: 4 HEAT Rating: Hot (Language and Violence) Reviewed By: Daysie W. Review Courtesy of: My Book Addiction and More
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked the book because I really like the Reacher character. However, this plot was somewhat weak and I would have expected better. Next book I will wait a bit longer for more reviews. I would encourage the author to put more of his well known craft into the overall story. A bit disappointed, as I am very careful about which authors I will spend this much money on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the worst, but FAR from the best. I have read every book and it has become a yearly tradition to wait until the next installment. This book, however was  pretty horrible. For years now, Lee has been trying to include a specific phrase in each book to repeat throughout, but it is nothing more than annoying. Unfortunately, this book has really painted a picture for me. The picture you start to see when a great show is just done and needs to end (think Dexter or Breaking Bad) and as sad as it makes me Reacher needs to move on. The scenarios in the book have become so far from reality that it is no longer fun. And spoiler alert, THE ENDING SUCKS!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me up half the night...just couldn't put it down! And I agree with other readers; why in the world would anyone cast Cruise as Reacher?!?!?
Bitten-By-Love-Reviews More than 1 year ago
Well the plot starts with Jack traveling cross country to meet the female who replaced him, Major Turner, at the 110th MP division. His interaction with her in a previous novel intrigued him to the point that he just has to meet the person behind the voice. When he arrives he finds that the Army has arrested her. They promptly arrest Jack on charges that are twenty years old and fake. This forces Reacher to escape from prison taking Major Turner with him. They go on a search for the truth and any bad guy(s) dumb enough to get in his way will die. Mr. Lee Child's has written another winner. The fans of the Reacher Series will love Never Go Back, I can't wait for book 19 to be released.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just not up to the usual Reacher....too obscure and confusing....doesn't draw you in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first 15 books in this series were awesome. Jack was the leader in reaction and offensive righteousness. Since then his character has been weakened to the point that the plots became the focal point and much to outlandish. He is more like a detective now and he is being tasked to make the action. In all the earlier novels he was challenged by enemy after enemy. NEVER GO BACK did start out like the good old days but the California chapters killed it right to the final parges. Mr Child give us more kidnappings by militia, more hope and despair, afghan tribal women in New York. I say Go Back Jack. A simple plot, full of villians, and Jack mowing them down.
GravyDavy More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of Jack Reacher then this another book for you. It had some good twists and turns as only Lee Child can do. On a personal note, I have read all the Reacher books and not once did I ever picture him as Tom Cruise.
jerseygirlAK More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful until the last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting, possible and fast moving. As always Child's developes his character's well and makes them consistent through the story. The story was over before I knew it, fun read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am biased in that I have read all of his books. I found them entertaining but they seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Wish he wrote faster but what can you do. Some of the situations here seemed to be a stretch but still pretty good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thrilling!!! Speed-demon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RedReaderKCMO More than 1 year ago
Snappy dialogue and great plot as always. Just finished the book and this a great end to this series of Reacher adventures. I hope that Samantha makes an appearance in the future. Maybe she could be Reacher's brother Joe's daughter?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reacher meets the new CO of the 110th MP. Or should I say her replacement, and then her? it's a good, fast read. As usual with Reacher books, I couldn't put it down. The only downsides: We only get about one new book a year. And Ii always read them too fast! Thanks for another terrific read.