Published by Random House Audio in 2014
Read by Dick Hill
Duration: 7 hours, 9 minutes
This collection of Jack Reacher short stories. All are prequels to the current Reacher timeline. Two are set in Reacher's childhood and one is set during his service as an officer in the Military Police.
1) Deep Down is set during the 1980s. Reacher is asked to investigate a potential leak of military secrets to the Soviet Union via fax machine from the U.S. Capitol building. The potential leakers are a set of officers working in a committee to flash out the characteristics needed in a new sniper rifle should the Congress decide to fund the creation of a new sniper rifle and buy it. Reacher is added to the committee as part of an undercover operation to figure out who the bad guy is.
This is the strongest story in the collection. 5 stars.
2) In Second Son, Lee Child takes us all the way back to 1974. Jack Reacher is 13 years old and his father has just been transferred to Okinawa as a part of the U.S. Marines along with his mother and his slightly older brother Joe.
Moving to a new place is always hard and Okinawa is no exception. Reacher must prove himself to the neighborhood bully, he meets a girl and he solves two mysteries.
The story is fun, but 13 year old Reacher is way too smart for a middle school kid, even if he is Jack Reacher. But, the mysteries were fun. In fact, the whole story was fun, kind of like looking at old yearbook photos of someone you know from way back before you ever met them. 4 stars.
3) In High Heat, 16-year-old Reacher is off to New York City in 1977 - all by himself. This is the most implausible of the three stories. Reacher gets involved in a blackout, breaks up a criminal ring, solves the Son of Sam murders and fools around with a college girl - All in one night!
Yeah, right! 2 stars.
4) The Bonus track is Jack Reacher's Rules. I have seen this book in print and opted not to read it because it is a list of advice and comments lifted from various Reacher books and novellas. In context of the stories they came from, these lines and thoughts are interesting but they are really hard to listen to on their own. I listened for about 10 minutes and gave up on this part - I couldn't stand to listen to more than an hour more of it. 1 star.
I am a big fan of the reader, Dick Hill. I think he is an exceptionally good fit for this series. I don't even bother to physically read the books now - not if Dick Hill is reading them to me.
So, in the end this is 4 different stories of varying quality. The average score of this collection is 3 stars out of 5.
This collection can be found on Amazon.com here: THREE JACK REACHER NOVELLAS: DEEP DOWN, SECOND SON, HIGH HEAT and JACK REACHER'S RULES.