The existence of Worth Dying For kind of gives away the resolution of the cliffhanger Lee Child hung on his wandering adventurer Jack Reacher at the end of 61 Hours. That book ended with no sign of Reacher or how he might have survived a huge explosion, but it would take a very high level of credibility to think that Child actually entertained the thought of bumping Reacher off and writing new books with other characters. And Child does tuck an explanation of Reacher's survival away in Worth Dying For, amidst the plot of Reacher trying to work himself out of a small Nebraska prairie town in the grip of some ruthless folks he's managed to irritate. Still battered from the explosion in Hours, Reacher is trying to recuperate and make his way to Virginia to meet the lady military cop he exchanged phone calls with in the earlier book. But he winds up entangled with the Duncans, a family whose stranglehold on the area's trucking business -- and phalanx of ex-football player bodyguards -- puts the rest of the town at their mercy. Rather than take their lumps and let Reacher be on his way, the Duncans follow in the footsteps of every other small-scale feudal lord Reacher's dealt with and wind up with a lot more trouble than they bargained for. Child mostly resists his tendency to weigh his action scenes down with exposition but not always. He makes up for that by touches like using the recurring theme of how far away cars and objects can be seen on the open prairie to emphasize the isolation of the townspeople. Reacher seems more affected by the problems of strangers than he has been for awhile, allowing himself to be drawn into a conflict he could have avoided. Worth Dying For is really nothing new for Reacher, which is a little disappointing after the way 61 Hours focused on solving puzzles using the deduction skills Reacher gained as a military policeman. Even if it does offer nothing that makes it stand out in the series, it's certainly not as bad as Nothing to Lose and offers a diverting thrill-ride of a read.
Mother and daughter duo Patricia and Traci Lambrecht have spun out four tales of the crime-solving computer programmers at the software firm Monkeewrench as they work together with shoe-leather detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth. Shoot to Thrill is the fifth novel in the series, which the pair write under the pseudonym P. J. Tracy. Some of Monkeewrench's workers are among those called in by the FBI when killers begin posting actual murders on the web from untraceable sources. Special Agent John Smith is assigned to work with the Monkeewrench crew, and Magozzi and Rolseth are drawn into the mix when one of the murders happens in their city of Minneapolis. Shoot to Thrill offers less of a look at the oddball Monkeewrench crew than earlier books do, as they take a little bit of a backseat to Monkeewrench leader Grace MacBride and how Agent Smith affects her complicated relationship with Magozzi. When the Monkeewrench crew discovers clues that may point to murders yet to happen, the detectives have to work around the clock to try to determine what the clues tell them if they hope to prevent more killings. Thrill also throws in some reflection by the different characters about how widespread a phenomenon like this could become, and what that might mean in our society. The Lambrechts write a smooth story and while the dialogue about the impact of webcast murders veers close to preaching, it doesn't cross the line and get in the way of the story. And Monkeewrench series fans are definitely left with an ending they'll want to see explored in later books.