Jack Reacher again finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time in “A Wanted Man,” the latest mystery from Lee Child. Reacher was looking for a ride when two men and a woman pick him up. They encounter roadblocks but make it past these barriers with hardly a glance from police officers. Soon Reacher figures out that he was chosen to be an extra person in the car. Everyone in the vehicle has a secret, and he’s able to work out a set of signals with the woman while the men are asleep. She tells him it’s her car, she has a daughter and the men have guns.

Child establishes the setting and mood immediately, and the reader quickly falls under his spell. He can take cliches and elements from substandard thrillers and tweak them into masterful writing and storytelling. Narrative tricks essential to a successful novel are in abundance, and Child makes it look effortless.

Just when the plot starts veering into obvious territory, Child begins the twists. Nothing is as it seems, and suddenly the expected becomes the unexpected. If there were such a thing as a writer-magician, Lee Child would be the face above the cloak.

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