Reacher heard the rack of the slide twenty feet behind him. He heard it very clearly. It was exactly the kind of sound he had trained himself never to miss. To his ears, it was a complete, complex split second symphony and every component registered precisely. The scrape of alloy on alloy, its metallic resonance partially damped by a flesh palm and the ball of a thumb and the side of an index finger. .. The grateful expansion of a magazine spring, the smack of a brass cased shell socketing home the return of the slide. Those sounds took about a thirtieth of a second to reach his ears, and he spent maybe another thirtieth of a second processing them. His life and his history lacked many things: he had never known stability or normality or comfort or convention. He had never counted on anything except surprise and unpredictability and danger. He took things exactly as they came for exactly what they were….
This perfectly tuned register and processor of mechanical sounds is Jack Reacher, calculator and decipherer of numerical messages, auditor and predictor of probable forces of character, probable explosions of personality, probable damage to friends and country. Reacher is a ‘restless’ ex MP who left his happy gang of Special Investigators ten years ago, and has an unsettled and unsettling personality. He does not believe in carrying a spare shirt: