High Heat

by Lee Child


Reviewed by Dick Friedman

Superman has Smallville and Jack Reacher has New York City during the Summer of Sam. In a nifty prequel, best-selling author Lee Child takes a flight of fancy and drops his tough-guy creation--age 16 going on 17--into Greenwich Village on July 13, 1977: the sweltering evening that the metropolis is struck by a blackout. Quickly the wunderkind (already 6-foot-5 and ever ready to rumble) comes to the aid of a damsel in distress,  an undercover FBI agent named Jill Hemingway who has botched her pursuit of a drug-dealing Mafioso named Croselli. Reacher also hooks up with another older woman, a Sarah Lawrence coed cutie named Chrissie (no last name; this is the ‘70s, after all), who conveniently owns a blue Chevette that permits them (after a visit to CBGB)  to go parking down by the East River. There, as they are flagrante delicto, Reacher thinks he spots Sam. The story is delivered with the hard-hitting economy of the straight rights that youthful Jack uses to tattoo the bad guys. And Child evokes that unforgettable steambath of a night:  “A hundred degrees, maybe more, clamping down and now smug and settled and supreme, unchallenged by fans or air conditioning or any other kind of manmade mediation.”  In essence: hot ‘n’ happenin’.

Buy at:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore

On the night of the blackout Dick Friedman was one of 14,626 at Shea Stadium watching the Mets play the Cubs--at least, until 9:34 p.m., when the lights went out in the sixth inning with Chicago leading 2-1.

1 reed=poor; 2 reeds=average; 3 reeds=good; 4 reeds=excellent
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