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For me, no crime-fiction character has ever measured up to Jack Reacher—until, that is, I met Peter Ash, a former Marine lieutenant deeply damaged by his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (his PTSD manifests itself as intense claustrophobia). In this, his second outing, Ash stumbles upon an investigative journalist who’s gone into hiding in the California wilderness, desperate to evade the men who murdered her mother. Petrie’s writing is smooth, almost melodic, and he’s very, very good at racheting up stomach-churning tension. A-

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