Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not?
So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness.
The deeper Reacher digs, and the more he learns, the more dangerous the terrain becomes. Turns out the ring was just a small link in a far darker chain. Powerful forces are guarding a vast criminal enterprise. Some lines should never be crossed. But then, neither should Reacher.
Review by The Written Word
Lee Child’s twenty-second installment in his Jack Reacher series, The Midnight Line, is an elegant, vividly written tale. Reacher is, as always, a standout character, driven by his own code, principled, brutal, and pragmatic. He is one of the best characters in the genre, but this more cerebral Reacher translated into a read that bordered on boring.
No one writes riveting dialogue and sly humor like Child. The exchanges between his characters are pithy, succinct, and driving with a rapid-fire delivery that is stellar. The author is also an expert in capturing the nuances of human behavior and movement on the page. He gives the reader just enough information about characters to create a colorful cast, and he keeps a perfect balance between action and exposition.
The plot for this thriller was poignant and moving, but it was severely lacking in intrigue and grip. And this is where the issue lies. If this were marketed as a novel, a character drama with a different main character, it would have been a great read. As it was, it was a solid read that delivered none of the fast-paced, riveting action that is expected with a story centered around Jack Reacher. The story was sorely lacking the taut pace, rousing fight scenes, and engaging mystery that is expected with a Jack Reacher thriller. The main character was there in fine—if tame and mulling—form, the requisite female character was present, but the rest of the story did not live up to expectation.
The Midnight Line does a superb job with portraying the abandonment veterans face upon returning home, the wars they fight even after leaving the battlefields. Lee Child’s writing is superb. But this thriller was less than thrilling with a long, slow, unsurprising plod back and forth across the wilderness of Wyoming.
Recommended for fans of the Jack Reacher character with the caveat that the story itself does not live up to the exciting action and intrigue one would expect of a thriller