This, I must say is much better than Michael Crichton in terns of content. Though Michael Crichton has strengths, unarguably. Now, as I give you a synopsis of the book in the following paragraphs, I hope you understand that the book is quite hard to summarize since the depth is great.
Jack Reacher( ex-military cop)
Susan Mark( Civil Servant)
Jack Reacher is a retired military cop and soldier. One day while on a train he sees 5 people- a golfer, a West African lady, a lady in a Hispanic outfit, a 50 yr old woman with a big bag, and a cleaner wearing NBA shirt and jeans. However, the one who was suspicious was the 50yr old woman, because she had matched up to the 11 point list of a suicide bomber developed by Isreali counterintelligence.
Jack Reacher, seeing a prospective suicide bomber, confronts her with the context of a cop. However, the woman mysteriously just takes out a gun, aims at Jack...then shoots herself. Jack is shocked, calls the train captain, but even when police deal with her Jack cannot let it go.
The federal agencies question him, but they find Jack clean, and without a single clue of the case of the dead woman. However, they keep bringing up two names- John Sansom and Lila Hoth.
Curious, Jack thinks more when just then he meets Jacob Mark, the brother of Susan Mark the dead woman. He tells her some background info, and his investigation sets off from here. He finds out that she is Susan Mark, has a son, Peter Mark.
His probing leads to the feds questioning him, and their suspecting that he has knowledge of where a thumbdrive belonging to Susan Mark, Jack says in reality he does not. So, the feds just tell him to stay out of affairs.
Jack completely disregards the feds. He goes to search, and discovers that John Sansom is an upcoming election member. Lila Hoth is a friend of Susan Mark and was the only one contacted before coming to New York. According to what he had heard from Theresa Lee, a NYPD cop, Susan Mark had arranged to come to New York to visit Lila Hoth as they had been friends after Lila had called her regarding some affairs and their conversation spun off quite well.
Jack does a few things for his research. He buys John Sansom's book, where he discovers that in the army in 1983 John had won 4 prestigious awards and there is also a picture of Donald Rumsfled with Saddam Hussein shaking hands. Jack realises that the awards could only have been gotten through high profile missions, and in 1983 there was a slight conflict with Soviet Union. Among the clues are also a strip of paper left behind by Susan Mark in her bag with the numbers 600-82219-D. The next piece of info was that Susan Mark had a son called Peter Mark, adopted. Peter hated his mother, but Susan still loved him like a son. Peter was very talented in basketball, and would usually go for training. But a few days ago after practice he had gone to a bar and has not returned home since.
After stalking John Sansom for a while, he finds out that the Hoths are a fake since John confessed that in 1983 he did fight a man called Grigory Hoth. However, he made no mention of Lila Hoth. Thus he tries to meet Lila Hoth. Lila Hoth tells him that back in the 1980s she and her mother Svetlana Hoth were in the war. Their soldiers would get captured and then tortured to death.
However, Lila Hoth was discovered to be al-qaeda leaders. They were sent to retrieve the thumbdrive.
Jack then meets an agent called Springfield( Sansom's bodyguard), who co-operates with him to try to get Lila Hoth killed. John reveals that the thumbdrive which Susan Mark has actually contains a photo of him shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. It would deal a great blow to America, so it had to be eliminated.
Lila Hoth is angry that her cover has been blown, and that Jack is a key investigator. She sends a VCD to Jack containing footage of Lila slicing mens' stomachs and ripping out the guts. Among them is Peter Mark, Susan Mark's son.
Jack finally figures it out.
Lila Hoth as terrorists want the thumbdrive. However, Susan Mark being a civil servant does not want to give it. Then she gets the VCD of her own son getting killed. Then she realises she has no choice but to take revenge, and goes down to New York. Thus at New York she probably knows it is the end of the road for her and seeing the thumbdrive as the source of problems she probably threw it away. Thus in the end his theory was true and the thumbdrive was recovered.