****Four out of Five Stars.
Review by Mark Palm.
Let me start by saying that this is the twenty-second book in the Reacher series. That is a lot of books, to put it lightly. Even so, there might be some folks out there who haven’t read one of the books or seen one of the two films based on the books, so I will give you a quick primer; Jack Reacher is a former MP who served in the US. Army. Physically. At six-five and two-hundred and fifty pounds, he is a bruiser. Mentally, however, is a master at inductive reasoning. Which is a high-faulting way to say that he notices things, pays attention, and thinks them through to a logical conclusion. It’s the same thing that Sherlock Holmes does, though for some reason people keep saying that Holmes uses deductive reasoning, which is an entirely different thing.
Basically, Reacher wanders around America, with nothing but the clothes on his back and a toothbrush in his pocket, looking for things that grab his attention. Usually, it turns out that the things that grab his attention are some smelly injustice that his sense of honor demand that he step up and take action. Then the story takes off.
It seems . on the face, like a basic premise. Lee Child has managed to take this basic premise, and keep me not only interested, but fascinated for a very long time. And he does it again in The Midnight Line, with a few significant differences.
This story starts with Reacher feeling down because Michelle Chang, from Make Me has left. So he takes a stroll, and stops at a pawn shop, where he sees a ring in the window. It’s a graduation ring from West Point, and it’s very small, certainly from a woman who was barely big enough to have attended West Point. Curious as to what hardships must have happened to this woman that would make her give up a ring that is so hard to obtain, Reacher starts on a journey, to trace the provenance of the ring. This entails calling in favors from the Academy and beating up bad guys. He ends up in Rapid City , South Dakota, working with a local cop, Gloria Nakamura, trying to take a down a local bad guy , Arthur Scorpio, who has his fingers in plenty of bad pies. They discover that the ring belongs to an ex-Army Major, Serena Rose Sanderson, who was injured in Afghanistan. His investigations leads him to Terry Bramhall, a private detective, who leads Reacher to Jane Mackenzie, the twin sister of of Rose.
After several plot turns I won’t disclose it turns out that Rose received a grievous facial injury from an IED in Afghanistan, and became addicted to Meth. Reacher and the rest must find a way to circumvent Scorpio’s drug ring to get enough Meth to Rose so she can move in with her sister and slowly wean herself off of drugs, without getting caught by the bad guys or the DEA.
The Midnight Line has all of the thrills and action you expect out of Lee Child, but this time there is a lot more compassion and heart than is usual. Rose is a fascinating character, and the arc of her story, as a wounded vet who turns to opioids, is touching and all-too common, and Child tells it with heart and compassion. All of the rest of the things you expect to find in a Reacher book, like the taut plotting and the realistic and clever dialogue, are all here, so get this book.