There are 2 storylines - one with Reacher returning to his father's East coast childhood hometown (the past tense in the title of the book) - and one with young Canadians stranded in a small town motel in the same area. Both story lines collide to form the climax of the novel. The second plot is reminiscent of the popular novel, "Hunger Games". I enjoyed the read with not much violence until the last chapter. However, prior to that last chapter, Reacher does meet up with some town bullies and it is quite evident who wins. Also lacking is any love interest involving Reacher - thank goodness! This novel also doesn't have the boring filler detail Child sometimes embeds in his novels, usually having to do with counting or something mathematical. Let's see if he gets to San Diego in the next novel - his goal at the start of this novel.