Note: This review is by my husband Jim.
In The Midnight Line, Lee Child discloses, for the first time (I think) his knight errant hero, Jack Reacher’s, secret to personal hygiene. Many of Child’s loyal fans (me, among them) have wondered how Reacher is able to thrive without a change of clothes, but in this latest book we learn that he uses an entire bar of soap each time he showers! I guess we shouldn’t let realism get in the way of a good trope.
That important point aside, The Midnight Line is actually quite a good tale, well told. Shortly after spending three days in sexual heaven (Milwaukee?!) with Michelle Chang (who abruptly leaves him and the story for good on page two), Reacher finds himself in a pawn shop where he discovers a class ring from The United States Military Academy (West Point). He wonders why a well educated army officer would pawn her (the ring is very small) class ring. Reacher, being Reacher, with nothing else to do, attempts to ascertain the ring’s provenance, and in the process discovers a long supply chain of illegal opioid pharmaceuticals reaching to the badlands of South Dakota and southern Wyoming. As in any Jack Reacher book, he also encounters some disagreeable characters in need of a good thrashing (duly given). As a result of such thrashing, Reacher makes some enemies who spend the rest of the book trying to kill him. Fat chance! (We have read several other Jack Reacher books). He also encounters a private detective who is looking for the same West Point graduate.
The elusive graduate happens to have a rich and ravishingly beautiful identical twin sister (herein, “RBITS”) who has hired the detective to find her. Reacher, the detective, and RBITS join forces to search for the sister, who apparently doesn’t want to be found. When they finally do locate her, she turns out to have been badly facially disfigured while on duty in Afghanistan and has become addicted to opoids.
The final problem faced by our heroes is to assure the disabled sister a sufficient supply of opioids to last her through what promises to be a rather long recovery period. This they accomplish by commandeering a large shipment of illegal drugs from the bad guys, and in the process bringing many of those bad guys to justice. All’s well that ends well with Reacher hitchhiking south toward Kansas with just the clothes on his back and a toothbrush.
I like to poke fun at some of the cartoonish aspects of the Jack Reacher character, but I can’t gainsay Lee Child’s ability to make the reader want to get to the next chapter. The Midnight Line is one of his better efforts.
Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House, 2017