Jack Reacher is walking down a city street when he sees a woman with a cane, struggling with her dry cleaning. As he attempts to assist her, three men approach her with weapons drawn and abduct her, bringing Reacher along also. The men are part of a separatist group who bring the prisoners to their enclave in Yorke, Montana. They are holding the woman, FBI agent Holly Johnson as a bargaining tool for a plan they have in motion, against the government.
Reacher shows the reader his many talents in the story. We see him as the lone man against seemingly insurmountable odds. He's highly analytical, and possesses keen intelligence. He's able to rationalize what the captors are planning and figure out a possible escape. He also shows that he is very human and develops feeling for this young woman. His compassion and strength are two of the reasons readers enjoy Reacher as a character and are able to sympathise with him.
The plot is original and logically laid out. It proceeds nicely towards the confrontation that readers expect.
Child's theme seems to be that when oppressed, do not give in and with Reacher as the author's voice, it tells that even one person can do great things against impossible odds.