1 Dead Ringer by Jude Hardin
Jack Reacher is the protagonist of a phenomenally successful series by Lee Child. He’s likeable, interesting, and very different than everyone you know. So it’s not surprising that other authors would like to play in Lee Child’s sandbox. What is surprising is that this spinoff series has such a strong first book.
Rock Whalman is a clone of Jack Reacher, created in a black book army program that they now wish to pretend never happened. So they are killing off the clones, including Rock. This gives Rock the chance to do all the fascinating things Reacher does in his books as he tries to survive a group of assassins who are tracking him down.
It’s a concept that could have fallen on its face, but it doesn’t. The book is exciting from beginning to end. It’s almost like you’re reading an adventure about Jack Reacher.
2 Moving Target by Jude Hardin
A rogue group within the army is still trying to clean up a probably illegal experiment they conducted which resulted in the cloning of Jack Reacher. In this very short novel, they hire a new hitman to kill Rock Whalman (the clone) and in so doing remove the “evidence” of their crime. Hardin takes the time to develop the idea that this is happening decades into the future (something that is not immediately obvious from any of the ongoing interactions in either of the first two books).
While the action is fast moving and enjoyable, the whole plot depends upon two very big coincidences. The first is that one of the army officers chasing Rock is the ex-husband of a woman Rock is romantically interested in. The second is that the hitman coincidentally saw Rock (who has given the army the slip) the morning he takes on this assignment. The second was necessary to the plot, but it’s not clear that the first was. Taken together these “coincidences” are more astounding then getting struck by lightning on the same afternoon.
Final analysis, this was another fun one and I’m looking forward to book three.