Like many of the Reacher creatures, I have read every Lee Child book, but the last two or three have not been as enjoyable and I worry for “Jack”.

This one opens when he sees an old guy dozing on a bus with a fat envelope of cash sticking out of his jacket pocket. Reacher notices another guy has seen the cash too and Jack worries for the old guy.

When the pair of them get off at the next city Jack gets off too. The prospective mugger follows the old guy, and Jack trails the mugger. So far so good and typical Reacher fare. And all good, and we wait to see how it develops, though we know we wouldn’t like to be in the mugger’s shoes.

The city is plagued by two warring gangs, Albanians and Ukrainians, and it isn’t long before Jack is at war with both of them, almost single handedly.

The body count rises rapidly, so much so that I felt uncomfortable with it. The writer has often likened Reacher to a modern day Robin Hood, but there is nothing Robin-esque here. I don’t remember Robin Hood killing, murdering, executing, (use whichever word you like) sometimes unarmed men, even if they are criminals and murderers.

And amongst all the shooting no police officer is ever summoned or shows up, no concerned member of the public checks in to find what all the shooting is about. It’s as if the city is deserted and dead, which makes the story less and less believable.

And if that’s not bad enough, this reminded me of an old John Wayne film when every time Johnny fires a slug it hit and kills, but every time one of the bad guys fires a bullet it misses or ricochets off somewhere else. There’s a lot of that going on. Life doesn’t happen that way.

In the last two or three books I have mentioned that I thought they might not have been written by Lee at all. They certainly seemed tired and less imaginative, and now I read that Lee Child is on the brink of retirement and wants his brother (I kid you not) to write future books, just so long as he is willing to change his name to Child.

Maybe I wasn’t so far away when suggesting some of the recent books were not entirely Lee’s work. Maybe the brother’s been serving some kind of apprenticeship and the sales figures have kept turning, and he’s finally landed him the gig.

The body count in this book is ridiculous, all the more so because the killing sprees (plural) bring no reaction from anyone else.

The time is coming fast when I stop buying these books, though that feeling is not new; it’s been creeping in for several books now.

If you don’t believe me how far away this book is take the time to read any of the first four in the series and you will see how much better the older ones are.

Lee Child has openly talked about retiring, even about killing Reacher off, and for a moment I thought that might happen in Blue Moon, but Child now says that would be unfair on the Reacher creatures who would miss their annual fix.

Maybe the regular big pay day is just too good and too persuasive to give up too, though I don’t suppose Mister Child is desperate for cash.

Sad to say, I didn’t enjoy reading this one, even though Mister Child has not lost his knack of reeling the reader in and keeping him or her on the hook until the last page. Doesn’t mean it was a satisfying read, or that I will buy the next one.

Which is a great pity for it’s been an enjoyable ride, but, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Even Jack Reacher. He's morphing into a serial killer - and that ain't good.

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