Troutbeck Round

Friday evening my brilliant wife Helen stated that on Sunday she needed hills. Saturday evening, we perused our collection of walking and running guides and opted for the longest route in Helen Mort’s excellent Lake District Trail Running book. We’ve done a number of her routes and they have all been excellent. I created a route for my Garmin, and we made sandwiches, bought additional snacks, loaded up a rucksack and prepped for an early start on Sunday morning.

Best laid plans and all that! Fireworks, and Nelly our silly old Pointer was completed stressed most of the night, meaning that no one managed much sleep. On top of that, the weather forecast was for rain, lots of rain.

We woke up Sunday morning not completely refreshed, the forecast hadn’t improved, and it would have been very easy to stay in bed for most of the morning. But no, we headed out and we were parked in a small layby near Jesus Church in Troutbeck before 8am. We had a plan B, in that if the weather turned really bad, we would double back as the first part of the route was fairly flat and low lying.

Out of the village the first footpath was quite steep before levelling out and heading north through the valley. It was warm, hardly any wind and incredibly peaceful. Nelly was also allowed off the lead to be gate monitor.

In the distance, the clouds looked ominous, with all of the hill tops obscured. We continued walking, making good progress and when the path started to climb, we stopped for a cherry scone and a drink. The first four miles had been a doddle.

Slowly we climbed higher and higher, the wind buffeting so strong that it blew my woolly hat off my head. Fortunately, I managed to retrieve it before it disappeared over the edge.

We continued up, expecting rain at any moment. The route carried on a little further north, but noticing another footpath, we cut off the tip of the route and started on the wide path back.

The route back goes over three different peaks; Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke. Froswick at 720m high we skirted around, but Ill Bell at 757m high was a steep and tough little climb. There were two cairns at the top, and clouds, lots of clouds, and wind. We navigated to the correct path down and every now and again the cloud would lift enough for some amazing views.

After the summit of Yoke at 706m high we began the slow and steady descent back down to Troutbeck. Amazingly, it still hadn’t started to rain. There were also quite a few walkers and runners headed in the other direction. A few more miles later and we joined the track we had taken from the village, with Nelly leading the way again. At this point there was the first spots of rain, but it didn’t last too long and wasn’t very heavy.

Back in the village we passed the field holding the Pumpkin Fesitval, we passed the small carpark that we missed, past the chruch and back to the car.

Our full route was 17.4km (just under 11 miles) with 930m of climbing (lots of feet). As expected, the rain started to lash it down as we sat in the car eating a sandwich as we prepared ourselves for the long drive home. What we love about this area of the Lakes is that it is only a 45-minute drive, and less than an hour to Ambleside.

Anyway, an absolutely fantastic walk. The three of us have eight tired legs between us. I fully recommend Helen Mort’s book if you fancy a few interesting walks or runs in the area.

Next week will be a tough week for both me and Helen, so this was a much-needed day out.

My Strava route can be found here, if you wanted to give me Kudos or walk/run the route yourself.

Cliffe Castle parkrun

Cliffe Castle parkrun has been my NENDY parkrun for a number of months, so today I made the 90-minute drive from Lancaster to Keighly to run Cliffe Castle.

First problem of the morning was getting the Sat Nav to accept the postcode. Next problem was that the Sat Nav wanted me to take the M6 south and then use the A59. The time difference between this route and the back roads was negligible, however there were lane closures on the M6.

Anyway, I found the carpark without any issues and because this week I had brought my phone with me, I had a little walk around the park taking a few photos.

The park isn’t very large, but there was a magnificent greenhouse/conservatory, and a very nice pond and a fountain, although the fountain isn’t turned on until 9.30. I could also near plenty of birds from an aviary.

The main house, possibly not quite a castle, was still very impressive, although the 70’s style concrete bunker that had been built adjacent looked out of place (to the far right in the photo below, partly hidden by the tree).

As it was windy and wet, I huddled inside the car until it was nearly time for the start. I made it in time for the tourist briefing, where the volunteer mentioned that it was a three and a half lap course, with 90% of it downhill, with one very large tough climb, which is as high at the Ribbleshead Viaduct. After the usual announcements it was time for the off.

My new coach, Amy from Garmin, had today down as an easy run, consisting of a 2-minute warm up, 4km run at an easy pace, finished off with a 2-minute warm down. Almost immediately my Garmin was beeping and buzzing, letting me know that I was going too fast. I then came upon “The Hill” for the first time. It was steep and it went on for far too long. My Garmin then started telling me that I was going too slow.

The nature of a three-lap course means that inevitably I will be overtaking a number of people on my final lap, although as there wasn’t too many people running today, this wasn’t a problem. At the end of the third full lap the course does a small loop past the pond and fountain, with another sharp little climb, thankfully not as long as “The Hill”.

My finishing time was 22:21, which I am more than happy with, and 6th overall. I was 2nd in my age-group, almost a minute behind the other man in my group. There were 86 hardy parkrunners along with a dozen volunteers. Overall, a very pleasant and friendly parkrun, and despite “The Hill” one that I would recommend if you’re in the area.

This was also my 50th different parkrun and I completed the Pirates challenge on the running challenges Chrome extension. The Pirates challenge involves running seven different parkruns beginning with the letter C, and one beginning with an R.

My parkruns were; Cheltenham, Clitheroe Castle, Cuerdon Valley (no longer a parkrun), Centre Vale, Conkers, Coventry, Cliffe Castle and Rothay Park. My next NENDY is Watergrove parkrun near Rochdale. See you there soon.

Lost Finances

With the cost-of-living crisis hitting almost everyone, like many people I’ve had a close look at my finances. With that in mind I’ve had a look for lost finances.

Premium Bonds

I was given three premium bonds as a very young child. I have the certificates, but I have no idea if they have won anything in the last 25 years as NS&I has no record of me owning them. I went online and filled out a simply form, although finding the simple form wasn’t easy, with the numbers of my premium bonds. I should hear back in 23 days. I might have won something, and even if I haven’t, they will now have my contact details in case I win in the future.


Twenty years ago, I had a couple of friends who worked at a company called British Biotech. Apparently, it was doing really well. In haste I bought some shares. However, when I moved, I failed to update my details and when the company tanked and was bought by another firm, my shares were not transferred. I have tracked down the company that bought out British Biotech and emailed their support team with my details. I’m not holding out too much hope, as it appears that the share offer was 6p. My 25 shares might buy me a pint of milk.


I spent many years working in a large busy city centre pub in Oxford. As a barman and then assistant manager I wasn’t eligible for the company’s pension scheme. However, I was when I became the manager. I wasn’t earning a huge amount, and I have no idea of how much was paid into my pension. I was also only eligible for 18 months. The brewery I worked for has also changed hands a couple of times since I left. However, there is a government website which lists which pension firm every company uses. On the website for Scottish Widows, I could download a form and send it back. They will then have a look to see how much my pension is currently worth.

While the total money in lost finances for me might at best be a couple of pounds for the premium bonds and the shares, the pension could be worth a couple of thousand, which I can then transfer to my main pension. As an aside, I’ve had my own pension for nearly 30 years, and because of the ups and down in the economy it is worth far less than expected. My parents had very good end of salary pension schemes, and a pension I had with Barclays Bank when I was 18-21 has performed incredibly well, although it lost 20% of its value due to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s complete failure.

I will let you know how much my lost finances are worth, and I would recommend everyone else have a look behind the virtual financial sofa.

Garmin Coaches

One of the best things about the modern smart watches is how Garmin has fully integrated training plans available from a choice of different coaches. These include running and cycling training plans over a number of different distances. The training plans are then tailored to your own goals and ability, as well as giving you an idea of the confidence that you will achieve your target. I’m fairly sure that most of this is automated using clever algorithms, and that each coach isn’t delving into your own data each day before setting out your training plan for the following week.

My lovely wife Helen completed a half marathon training plan with coach Gregg earlier in the year when she was training a race in Anglesey. She has also completed a couple of 5km training plans, all with Gregg. She also looked at trying a different coach, Jeff, but his training plan included some quite technical drills.

I am currently aiming for a sub twenty-minute 5km. With this in mind I have started a training plan with Garmin. However, the fastest 5km training plan available is for 22 minutes, which is why I’ve not done one in the past. This time I have decided to complete a training plan and simply push myself a little quicker on each session than the recommended pace.

I completed a benchmark run earlier in the week with coach Jeff, which consisted of a two-minute warm up, followed by four minutes fairly hard and a two-minute cool down. The next day Jeff wanted me to warm up and then run walk run. I ignored him and simply went for a run with Nelly. Jeff then wanted me to complete a complex set of drills on parkrun day. I decided that Jeff wasn’t the right coach for me, and I have switch to coach Amy. Jeff also only had three scheduled runs each week, while Amy has four, which suits me better.

However, for Amy to set up a training plan, I had to do a five-minute time trial this morning. I think it went well. My next run is on Saturday and Amy wants me to warm up for two minutes, run 4km and cool down for two minutes. Perfect for a parkrun.

I’ll let you know how I get on as Amy’s plan includes speed work, hill reps, easy runs and longer slow runs.

Coventry Parkrun

Another weekend away. Me and my lovely wife headed down south to stay with Helen’s eldest son and his partner in Hitchin. We broke the journey up by staying at her brother’s house in Kenilworth, even though he was up in Fleetwood.

Anyway, the closest parkrun was Coventry, only four miles away, and Helen was also running along with our silly old pooch Nelly.

As expected, we arrived with plenty of time. However, neither of us had brought our phones, so the only photos are one that I “borrowed” off Google and another from an official photographer, although he managed not to take any photos of Nelly or Helen. The parkrun is within the War Memorial Park, with Parking at the Park and Ride (free for the first three hours). We had a walk around the park, which was really pleasant, with toilets that we free and well looked after.

We missed all of the run briefing, although Helen spotted that there was a person translating it into sign language, which we’ve never seen before. Lining up at the start there were a whole load of pens, depending on what time you expected to finish in. I lined up just behind the sub 20 minute area, not wanting to encroach upon the speedy people.

After my performance at Fleetwood last week, I ended up giving it some again. However, without the wind it felt much easier. The two lap route passes the War Memorial towards the end of the lap, and while the run was quite quick, it wasn’t pan flat.

I ran most of the run alongside a younger lad, who raced off from me with 100m to go, but he thanked me afterwards saying that he’d just managed a pb because I’d pushed him.

Amazingly my time was exactly the same as the previous week, 20:32. The big difference was that this week I finished 31st and was 2nd in my age group. More than happy with my result, and I think I can possibly manage a sub 20 minute parkrun before the end of the year.

I then waited for Helen and Nelly. I hadn’t realised how many people were taking part, and Nelly gets a bit stressed in crowds, so Helen had had no option but to take it easy for the first lap. Nelly is also 12 years old, and maybe parkrun isn’t for her anymore. They were both smiling though.

At the finish, Brooks were had a display and were giving away free running bottles, which we filled with water so that Nelly could have a drink.

Coventry was one of the best parkruns that I’ve done, and one of the busiest with 585 finishers, putting it in the top ten largest parkruns of the weekend. It was also my 150th parkrun, although there’s no t-shirt for 150. Only another 100 to go until I can claim a new shirt.

The Craft of Writing

Recently I’ve been paying more attention to some of the finer details in books that I’ve been reading. I remember at school an English teacher asking the class why an author had written that the curtains were blue. Was it because the character was emotionally cold? Was it because the character was afraid? All I could think was that maybe the author had written about green curtains in a previous book and simply wanted to use a different colour, and that there wasn’t any other deeper meaning.


Most books are written in the third person. The reader will often know far more than the main protagonists. Characters can easily be killed off. George R R Martin, the Game of Thrones author, has a different character’s point of view for each chapter. There isn’t too much to add to this, except that Lee Child writes almost all of his Jack Reacher books in the third person, with a couple written from Reacher’s point of view. Most authors will generally keep the same the narrative style throughout a series.

In a first-person point of view, the reader won’t know what other characters are thinking, unless of course the first person can read minds, see Carrots by Colleen Helme. Some people like to read first person books because it means that the main character can’t be killed off. I have a surprise for you, this isn’t always the case. Spoiler alert, The Collector by John Fowles, first published in 1963 is all about a man who wins the pools (the equivalent of the lottery), kidnaps a woman hoping that she will fall in love with him. She doesn’t and he dies at the end, good.

A book I read many years ago was written entirely in the first person, except that the first half was one character, and the second half began with a different character killing off the first character. It wasn’t a very good book. Will Carver, a very dark writer, has one book with three main characters. Two of them are written in the third person and the other in the first person. However, one of the characters kills the first-person character, although the actual death is not written from their point of view. Very unexpected.

Some first-person books are written in the form of a diary, for example The Island by Richard Laymon. Other first-person books like to “speak” to the reader, breaking the fourth wall. One very good example of this is Mister B Gone by Clive Barker, which is all about a demon that has been trapped inside the pages of a book, the book that you are reading, with paragraphs along the lines of “I can see you, about to finish page 31”, which is a little scary. Of course, that wouldn’t work within the confines of an e-book, although that might be a good idea for a short story. Your Kindle has been possessed by a demon and starts off small by downloading 50 Shades of Grey or anything by Dan Brown, and then slowly becomes more and more evil.


An author who has the resources to devote writing as a full-time occupation has obvious time-based advantages. However, very few authors start out that way. Short stories often allow an author to develop, hone their craft, build confidence and earn a little money before spreading their wings full time.

John Dies at the End by James Wong was written while the author had a full-time job. It is a crazy book with too much going on and at times can be very difficult to follow, almost as if the author snatched a few moments whenever he could to write and then sometimes struggled with the flow. The books flips and changes, and the style is very different towards the end from how it was at the start.

Terry Pratchett, one of the greatest fantasy writers of the last forty years, started out writing part-time. He was a prolific writer who was scorned by critics at the start of his career and then praised by those very same critics many years later. However, the first two books in the Discworld series are in a very different style to those that follow. I would go even further and argue that the first truly perfect Discworld book would be the eighth book, Guards! Guards! where the characters Vimes and Carrot are introduced.

Similarly, Jack Reacher is almost a superhero in the first two books. After that, Lee Child starts to introduce flaws into his creation. Reacher isn’t a very good driver. He lacks the ability to hand out bad news in an empathic manner, and then he starts to make mistakes.

Stephen King often finishes a chapter with the phrase ‘and that was the last time he/she was seen alive’. The film Stranger than Fiction, Emma Thompson plays an author who uses the phrase ‘little did she know’ in every book.

Every writer develops their own style.

My Book

I’m definitely struggling with finding the time to sit down and write. I also don’t think that I’m good enough. Creating a flowing storyline with interesting characters might be beyond my capabilities. I also worry that I would fall into the splatterpunk genre trap of trying too hard to make the violence and horror as grotesque and shocking as possible, rather than working on the plot. Another possibility is that I don’t find the outline of the book in my head very exciting, and because of that I’m not inclined to spend time writing.

Sometimes I think that I would make a good editor. Not proof reading as there is always one more typo out there to be missed as all of my university coursework can attest. As an editor I could point out continuity errors. If a book begins with a cliff hanger, describing something that will occur later in the book, there can’t be anything written about events beyond that passage before that passage has been read. I’m not explaining that very well. If the first chapter describes a near death or possible death and it occurs in chapter 30 on day 100 in the timeline, nothing in the book before chapter 30 should describe events that occur after day 100.

I could imagine giving helpful hints and insights to authors when they’ve finished the first draft of a book. However, would anyone take advice from someone who hasn’t written a book and only their writing experience is a blog that averages 10 views a day. Both Stephen King and Paul Wilson have written books about the craft of writing. Between them they have published well over 100 novels going back over 40 years. I would take advice from them.

Should I take an online writing course? Should I find the time and simply sit at my computer until I have written 1,000 words? Terry Pratchett aimed to write 3,000 words every day. I would prefer to write 500 quality words rather than 5,000 average or completely forgettable words. Terry’s 3,000 words included co-writing Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, one of the funniest books ever written.

Should I stick with blogging and triathlons? That does have a certain appeal. My lovely wife started an online writing course a couple of years ago and the short pieces that she wrote were better than anything I have ever managed. Saying that, are the Jack Reacher books really that good, or do they have an interesting main character, a whole load of implausible events and very good marketing.

I think I will continue to think about writing a book.

Emil Zatopek by Richard Askwith

Who is Emil Zatopek? He was probably the greatest middle- and long-distance runner the world has ever seen. He broke numerous world records and won Olympic medals, including three golds at the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki, he was the first man to run under 29 minutes for 10,000m and was unbeaten at that distance for many many years.

Emil was born 19th September 1922 in what was Czechoslovakia and he showed little inclination for running when he was young, until he realised that running could make his life easier in the Czech army, with time off for training and extra rations, if he was good enough to represent the army. He surpassed that qualification quite soon, and it wasn’t long before he was travelling around Europe representing his country.

What made Emil different was the incredibly intense training methods he used. While his contemporaries, for example, Chris Chattaway would run a hard session and then take a few days to recover. Emil would push himself as hard as possible, and then do the same the next day. His training set him apart from anyone else. However, he was friendly to everyone he met and would happily share his training methods with his rivals. A standard Emil session would be 40 x 400m with 200m recovery between each one. He might then repeat this later in the afternoon. His training diary indicated that 100 x 400m was uncommon.

At the 1952 Olympics it was thought that his golden days in the 5,000m was coming to an end, so it was suggested that he might enter the marathon as a backup plan, even though he had never run a marathon at that time. However, he won the 5,000m, then the 10,000m and followed it up with gold in the marathon. A triple that has never been repeated and it is doubtful if it ever will. His wife also won a gold medal at those Olympics in the javelin.

It is said that at the start line of the 1956 marathon, Emil stated to his fellow competitors;

Gentlemen, today we die a little

All of this and much more, including how the communist regime hid him away for 20 years, is excellently written in the book by Richard Askwith. If you’re a running fan I would suggest that it is a must, and even if you’re not, it is an incredible story.

Emil was full of brilliant quotes. My favourite is when it gets tough, go harder. I used that when I was running a recent 10km and when I was at parkrun yesterday.

In celebration of his life, on the next anniversary of his birth, I will attempt to run 40 x 400m at the local athletics track and try to run them as hard as possible, just as he would have done.

Fleetwood parkrun

My lovely wife Helen comes from Fleetwood, and her mother still lives there. We decided to visit, which meant that I could run the local parkrun. We had run there before in August 2018 at event #4. I pushed hard that day and managed my best ever parkrun time, two seconds under 19 minutes, although I finished 8th overall.

Helen and Nelly, our pointer, were going for a walk along the beach while I was running. Nelly likes beaches.

The prom has been revamped, especially at the turn around point, although the beach huts look good adjacent to the start/finish.

It had been chucking it down when we woke up, and on the drive over there had been a number of showers, but as I lined up at the start it wasn’t raining. The run director informed us that there was plenty of standing water and that it was likely that we would finish with wet feet. The wind was also fierce, but it would be a tailwind on the way back.

Today was Fleetwood’s 148th event and as I had had a fairly busy day the day before, I expected to take it easy. That lasted about 10 seconds. Usually at the start line I can spot the speedy runners, the whippet thin runners or the runners wearing racing flats. Apart from a very keen dog, no one disappeared into the distance as we set off. After about a minute I realised that the three people in front of me weren’t pulling away. That was when I decided to give it some biscuits.

After about 1km I pulled in front of the younger lad, leaving myself and another man following the man with the very keen dog. We both pulled past the man with the dog as we neared the turnaround point, and then with the wind behind me I pushed as hard as I could for the next km, hoping to create a gap.

One of the best things about out and back routes, is that you can see how far in front the speedy runners are, and count back to see what position you’re in. It was also encouraging to hear people saying “well done” to me as I passed them on the way back.

With 1km to go I passed a smiley volunteer who cheered me on. I kept an ear open to see how long before he cheered on the second placed runner. He was far enough back that I was beginning to think that the run was in the bag. My second ever first place finish was within my grasp.

A little way before the finish line Helen and Nelly cheered me on, even though I could only just about manage a grunt.

I crossed the line in first place in a time of 20:32. Possibly one of the slowest winning times ever, but you can only race against the people who are there. Amazingly, my only other win, at Millom, was in a time of 20:31.

My heart rate for the parkrun topped out at 182 bpm. I couldn’t have gone any quicker, and if the second placed runner had been close enough for a sprint finish, he would have beaten me.

I have to say that I was fairly ecstatic. I was also a red-faced sweaty mess when Helen took a selfie back in the car.

We then headed to Helen’s Mums, where I had a shower, coffee and two large slices of Helen’s amazing homemade quiche. All in all, a very good day.

Reap3r by Eliot Peper

As we all know, I love a good dystopian future book. Reap3r by Eliot Piper was listed in a couple of articles about new authors or new dystopian futures books. I had a look on Kindle Unlimited and as I was available as part of my subscription, I thought that I would give it a go.

There are a number of main characters in this book. There is Geoff, a scientist who developed a vaccine for a virus which had killed 200 million people. There is Devon, an investigative journalist stroke podcaster who manages to interview some highly secretive people. There is Luki, a computer specialist who has created the world’s first quantum computer. These three people are all being paid and supported by a billionaire hedge fund investor. There is also his scary assistant and a government agent.

Warning spoilers.

I don’t like to give too much away when I review books, but I have to in this instance. Nothing happens in the book for the first two thirds. The characters interact and bimble about, but nothing happens. Two thirds of the way through all hell breaks loose when the three main characters realise that they might be in danger of being assassinated.

Reap3r is an App for assassins and the people who want assassinations to be carried out. With the help of the quantum computer, the App is hacked, and all of the assassins are directed to attack each other. RR Haywood would have written a whole book on that simple premise. Anyway, that is the only exciting section in the book. They all escape. The villains are caught, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Overall, a very disappointing book, considering how good the reviews are. I gave it three out of five, which I felt was a little generous. There is an interesting article at the end of the book by the author where he expands upon the writing of this book. He states that he was incredibly excited to finish the first draft, thinking that it was the best piece of writing he’d ever done. He gave the draft to a few close reviewers, who came back with queries and questions. The author went back to the drawing board and the re-write took him twice as long to write as the first draft. Don’t get me wrong, it is ten times better than anything I could ever write, but it was a little disappointing.

Almost “Reaching” the End

Continuing with my play on words with each review of the next lump of Jack Reacher books. Not too many left to go now. I’ll have to find another series of books to begin reading.

Personal (Book #19)

An unknown sniper has taken a shot at the French President, from three quarters of a mile away. Fortunately for the President, he was protected by a sheet of new bullet proof glass. There are very few snipers in the world who can shoot that accurately from that range, and Reacher is one of them, or used to be when he was in the army. It takes practice to be that good, and Reacher doesn’t practice anymore.

Back in his army days, Reacher put away a very promising sniper, John Kott. After serving 15 years in prison, he is out, and is the prime suspect. However, there are a handful of other suspects, including a Russian and a Brit. Both countries send operatives to establish who the sniper was. Another problem is that the G7 are due to meet in London in a couple of weeks, and anyone could be on the sniper’s hit list.

Reacher heads to Paris and then to London, messing with an old school London crime gang, and a new bunch from Serbia. Are one of these gangs hiding the sniper? Are there actually two snipers working together?

Another good book from Lee Child, and the book where Reacher is given the nickname Sherlock Holmeless, which is quite clever. The rookie analyst who Reacher is teamed with adds to the tension, as he has to keep her safe as well. I have to say that some parts of the ending were a bit of a mess, with the crime gangs being a distraction, although the person who is behind it all is also a clever twist.

I gave this particular Reacher book four stars, almost exactly what the global average is. Not too bad, but not the best.

Make Me (book #20)

Reacher the hobo jumps off a train at the non-descript town of Mother’s Rest, simply intrigued by the name and wanting to know the history. He bumps into a worried private detective, who mistakes Reacher for someone else. Curiosity gets the better of Reacher and he teams up with her to help her find another private detective who has gone missing. They end up racing across the country, before the final showdown back at Mother’s Rest.

Why are there so many different people taking aim at Reacher? What exactly is going on in the town, and as they did deeper, they discover that loads more people have mysteriously vanished in the town.

One of the better Jack Reacher books in my opinion. You get a feeling that there must be more going on, and then we find out the horrific truth. The book looks at the ‘Deep Web’, which is something very different from the ‘Dark Web’. I’ve not looked into it, so it could well be made up for the purpose of the book, although the analogy used is neat and tidy.

Once again, I gave this four stars, which is pretty much standard for me, although I thought that this particular book deserved 4 and a half.

Night School (Book #21)

Every now and again Lee Child likes to take us back to Reacher’s army days. This book is set in 1996, and Reacher is working with his trusted team. A terrorist cell has paid a colossal amount of money and killed everyone connected with the transaction, even members of their own team. Something big is going down is Germany.

Reacher has to tread carefully to ensure that he doesn’t antagonise the local German police. Also, there are a number of gangs from the former East Germany who hanker for the good old days of Hitler and Nazis. Added to this, a low ranked soldier has gone AWOL. What has this soldier discovered and is it connected to the terrorists, and how are they linked to the former Nazis?

With no mobile phones and not internet, the detective work is old school, with plenty of secret identities and double crosses. A good story where the ending is much larger than expected, especially for some of the players involved.

Four stars from me, and amazingly, after 63,509 ratings, the average score is also 4.

The Midnight Line (Book #22)

Reacher is one a bus. The bus stops for an hour’s rest in a small nowhere town. Reacher is having a short walk through the town when he notices in a pawn shop a class ring from West Point. Knowing how much pain and suffering it takes to graduate from West Point, Reacher buys the ring with the sole aim to return it to its rightful owner. No one would willingly give up their class ring, although Reacher never bothered to buy one when he graduated. Reacher theorizes that either the ring has been stolen or the owner is in serious financial troubles.

Reacher persuades the pawn shop owner to tell him who he obtained it from, which turns out to be a tough motorcycle gang. Not as tough as Reacher. From there he follows the trail to another town, one beset with troubles from the opioid crisis. Reacher bumps into a local grime boss, a local police detective and a private detective from Chicago. All Reacher wants to do is return the ring and make sure that the owner is OK.

Good story, especially the beginning and the end. The beginning is classic Reacher, violently dispatching a group of troublemakers. The book looks at the fairly recent problems that America has suffered in regard to opioids, as well as looking at how badly a lot of former army vets are looked after by the government.

Strong book with more than a touch of politics. Not quite worth five stars, but I felt mean only giving it four.

Here concludes another foray into the world of Jack Reacher, and while me and my wife were away the other weekend, the hotel where we stayed had Amazon Prime, so we watched the first two episodes of the Reacher TV series. I liked it, and I think we should look at a one-month free trial, just so that we can watch the rest of the series.

Anyway, only four more Reacher books to go. After that, I have the collected short stories to read, and then the next book, No Plan B, is due to be released later in the year.