I'll focus on one plot element here to make a point. A writer of Childs' caliber has the unique ability to convey such horrific physical and emotional stress -- that many readers will feel their pulses begin to race, and own stress levels elevate. I'm not sure who gained the most physical relief when Reacher's head broke the surface of the ice cold water in one scene - Reacher or me! I had a five-week course in drownproofing at Hurricane Island Outward Bound school many years ago and, in addition to the bone chilling, shuddering cold of the ocean water in late August, was the psychological stress of having our hands tied behind our backs and feet tied together with plastic clothes line. In one lesson we had to swim 25 yards trussed up like that, between two dock wooden walls sunk into a cold water quarry pool. The trick was that you only had your head above water long enough to draw in a gulp of air while porpoising the distance to the other dock wall (and waiting hands). So we were taught to exhale before our mouths cleared the water, with that 1/2 second of clearance to inhale. Not a fun feeling if you don't time that right and all you inhale is ocean water. The only physical description more chilling than Reacher's water ordeal is in another book, in which rats play an integral role in confined spaces. I'm a veteran newspaper reporter ( specialized in crime coverage for a large daily paper for 10 years) and I'm in awe of Mr. Child's abilities.