The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher, #22)by Published 07 Nov 2017
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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.
"The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher, #22)" Reviews
This is one of the best Jack Reacher books ever. It's not even in comparison to the last two so-so books. It is simply one of the best and has everything in it that has made us fall in love with Reacher and follow the 6'5", 250 pound former military policeman who ambles across America with no real destination or goal in mind. He travels lightly with only a toothbrush and buys his clothes at thrift stores rather than launder him. He has that American wanderlust that has led to the settlement of our country.
Reacher wanders by a pawn shop in a small town in Wisconsin and notices a West Point Academy ring. What stands out is how small it is. It is a woman's ring. Reacher knows what has gone into getting that ring and wonders what hard times have befallen a veteran that they would pawn a ring paid for in blood, sweat and tears. So he decides to find her and see if he can help. It's as simple and complex as that.
He follows the ring through South Dakota and into the wilderness of Wyoming. He comes to a bump in the road called Mules Crossing that consists of a fireworks store and a flea market. Houses are 5-10 miles apart and people are isolated. They think nothing of driving an hour to get groceries. What really surprised me is that Child is an Englishman who now lives in NYC and yet he so perfectly captures that isolated life and geography of rural Wyoming that you would think he grew up there.
There are stories of veterans who return home from the Wars and how they are treated that would break your heart. Used and discarded to live a life of pain with little or no support, they struggle to maintain. They often feel like outsiders and end up in places so far off the map that it's hard to find them. As Reacher is a vet, he understands the struggle and sets off on his mission- to find the owner of that ring who was desperate as to pawn her West Point ring.
This was really a touching book that just reminded me why I got hooked on this series in the first place. I read it in two days as I couldn't put it down. This is a must read for fans and a book that can get you hooked if you haven't read him before.
Before I get any fans upset about my review, a three star from me denotes a good book. So that stated I will say I know this series has millions of fans who would probably read a grocery list written by Mr. Child. My husband is a fan and we thought we’d have a little buddy read. He has read all of the Jack Reacher books so he filled me in on the background of the character as I didn’t think there would be much in this book describing Jack since it’s the 22nd book (that’s just crazy) in the series. I went into this just looking for a fun entertaining read.
As you all know from the blurb Jack finds a female sized West Point ring in a pawn shop window and is interested. He is a graduate and knows what anyone has to go through to be able to wear that ring. What could make this woman so desperate that she would pawn her ring? How and from whom does the owner of this pawn shop get his goods? He finally gives Reacher a name, Jimmy Rat and he starts his new quest.
The first third of the book was so slow moving I nearly gave up reading it, but I was becoming interested to find out who the owner of the ring was. There is so much dialogue devoted to an altercation with bikers in a small midwestern town that it actually made me laugh. I counted fifteen pages as he knocked all seven of them out, one by one, example “He waited until they were five feet away and then he launched hard and smashed through the line with a horizontal elbow in his first target’s face and then he turned immediately and launched again, no delay at all, stamping his foot to kill the old momentum and get some new, scything his elbow at the guy to the right of the sudden new gap, who turned straight into it, facing front with all kinds of urgency, meeting the blow like a head-on wreck on the highway. Two down.” I won’t go through the rest of the five.
Once Jack finds what he thinks is the beginning of the supply line for the pawn shop we are introduced to Gloria Nakamura, a detective in the Rapid City Crimes Against Property unit. She has been on the trail of Arthur Scorpio whom she believes is smuggling stolen narcotics, mainly Oxycodone and Fentanyl patches, pharmaceutical grade and usually hard to get as it is closely monitored. Reacher also finds Gloria and they strike up a friendship with a give and take decision on information found on Mr. Scorpio and the smuggling line of supply.
Jack’s quest will lead him finally to Mule Crossing Wyoming, a barely existent town where lots has been going on and not legally. We find the owner of the ring and her character is very interesting and extremely sad. Five tours of duty in Iraq, honorably discharged with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. From the Purple Heart Jack is quite sure that she was seriously injured in the war. Her story is tragic and it is this part of the book that I found eye opening and pertinent to our times. I know that veterans in this country often don’t get a fair deal, they aren’t truly compensated for what they did and those that are emotionally and physically wounded often are left with little or no support. Many times left to turn to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to heal themselves.
There are some interesting characters in this book. Terrence Bramall a very likable PI who is very invested in finding his client’s missing twin sister. I would have liked to have known more about him. MacKenzie is Rose Sanderson’s (the owner of the ring) sister and hasn’t heard from Rose in about a year and is very concerned about her welfare. Further into the story she flies into town and joins the others in their search for the narcotics smugglers.
When my Kindle hit 73% the action started happening and I was in a happier place. By then I knew the plot, the characters and the plan. I enjoyed the last quarter of the book. Had the rest of the book been as interesting this could easily have been a 4 or 5 star read. There was just too much time wasted on all of the conversations while hitchhiking and all of the pages of descriptive fighting. I know now why people like the series because every “quest” is different and addresses different issues. Reacher is a kind of adult super hero traveling with just his toothbrush on the lookout for injustice.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley.
I’d taken a brief sojourn from the Reacher books. For a while they’d felt samey and contrived. The big man was also starting to feel way too predictable with his habits, his and his incessant coffee drinking and the like. And not only that, the stories were now clearly formulaic and, frankly, dull. But then a friend lent me this book and I was glad to have it, pleased to be meeting up with the modern day knight errant again.
This time he’s in Wyoming, a state bigger than the United Kingdom but with a population less than 1% of that in the UK. Yes, there are lots of wide open spaces and empty roads here. Reacher has found a class ring in a pawn shop window, it’s a West Point ring – an establishment he’d also attended. The ring has initials engraved on it and it’s dated: 2005. He now knows that his next mission will be to track down the original owner of the ring, for surely she (it’s a small ring, definitely a woman) must have fallen on hard times to have disposed of such an item.
The setting lends itself perfectly to the type of story Lee Child likes to tell. There are not many people about, so he can keep the cast small, and the geography is simple – the empty roads, a small town and not much else – and this means he can allow Reacher free rein with little interference into his movements or his actions.
The characters we are introduced to are a mixed and interesting bunch and the story does have the compelling draw that such a crusade can have on me (a bit like a reading a Dan Brown novel but without the hyperbole). Is it all wrapped up a little too neatly in the end? Perhaps. But I confess I enjoyed it and was a little sad when it ended. I’d missed Jack Reacher. It was good to have him back.
For the 22nd time, Lee Child's creation of Jack Reacher, came rip-roaring back to life onto the streets, alleyways and bars. Right at home. Although getting a little played out, I'm still captivated by the life of the fifty-something year-old wandering nomad - American Hero. The main draw of this popular character-driven narrative. At the drop of a hat, he went whenever and wherever the wind blew. Sounds like retirement. Although I can't say much for his choice of lifestyle. No suitcase, a toothbrush. Every few days an exchange of new clothes for old. Stays in hotels if convenient. Must be rolling in dough. This well-written installment could pass muster as a stand-alone. Essentially, he's an open book. It's all spelled out as the storyline progresses. Having read all the previous editions - same old, same old. Hooked for life.
Another romance gone bust. The place - Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Another woman fell victim to the Reacher curse. Couldn't wrap her head around his aimless, rambling lifestyle. Nothing new there. So he resorted to his usual standby. Headed out on the first bus to anywhere, USA. So long Milwaukee.
Destiny was about to march in. At a rest stop along the way, he got off to stretch his legs. He stumbled upon a pawn shop whereupon he spied a 2005 West Point ring. His alma mater. Engraved with the initials S.R.S. it was tiny. Most likely belonged to a woman. He knew from past experience she would have had to endure hell to graduate from the academy. Figured the ring would be one of the last things she'd ever sell. Intrigued, he bought it for forty bucks. Reacher wanted to find her. Just talk to her. The elementary plot is born.
When questioned, the pawn shop owner said the ring had been purchased from Jimmy Rat. Gotta love the name. Member of a local motorcycle gang. Predictably, it was time to pay Jimmy a visit. He and his buddies were at a bar. As expected, Reacher was not welcomed with open arms. It didn't take the aging Bone Crusher long to find some heads to crack. Seven total. All at the same time. Actually one right after another. Like factory work. Reacher walked away without a scratch. Miraculous. Just another walk in the park. For someone never looking for trouble, it surely seemed to find him frequently. The bus pulled away.
What first started off as idle curiosity as to the provenance of a ring, turned into a manhunt throughout the Midwest. The storyline collided with many twists and turns. It was a whole new ballgame now. The stakes had been raised. What Reacher discovered was much more than what he had bargained for. A deadly one. Never one to back down. Hope for the best - plan for the worst.
By now - the 22nd book in the series - Jack Reacher seems like an old friend. And like most old friends, he's welcome to visit my home any time he wants. Thankfully, though, he's not the real deal and I don't need to feed him; at 6 feet 5 and not far from 300 pounds, this former West Pointer wouldn't make it much beyond breakfast on what we've got in our fridge.
Speaking of West Point, the academy provides the impetus for this story. On his way to nowhere in particular from a short stretch in Hawaii at the end of summer, Reacher ends up on the shores of Lake Superior. In a small town there, he stops at a pawn shop and finds a ladies' West Point class ring from 2005 - with a price tag of 40 bucks. Given all that the owner went through to get that ring, Reacher figures she didn't relinquish it under normal circumstances. So, he makes it his mission to track her down and, if she's still alive, return it.
Turns out, though, that she wasn't the one who brought it to the pawn shop; a few physical encounters later (Reacher 1, bad guys 0), all Reacher can get is the name of the man who did. That trail winds its way to Rapid City, Iowa, and a man named Arthur Scorpio - a guy the local cops and feds have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to put behind bars. He owns a laundromat with a suspicious back room, but despite stakeouts by local law enforcement like Detective Gloria Nakamura, enough evidence to get a search warrant hasn't turned up.
As an aside, Scorpio's colorful description is an example of one of the reasons I love these books: He was, "Maybe six feet two. Maybe a hundred and sixty pounds. But only if he had a dollar's worth of pennies in his pocket."
Eventually, Reacher manages to learn the name and background of the woman he's searching for. That in turn leads him to a close relative and former FBI guy Terrence Bramall, who's now a private investigator. They end up in remote Wyoming, where of course Reacher and Bramall find themselves on the receiving end of even more physical encounters (hey, that's another reason I love these books). The rest of the story isn't pretty (figuratively and literally), and it also puts a spotlight on issues facing way too many returning U.S. veterans. No doubt that's a big part of the point; the book is dedicated to Purple Heart recipients.
That's about all I can say without revealing too much, although as usual, Reacher's considerable survival and intuitive skills get a good workout. The story seems a bit darker than some of the others, but everything gets resolved at the end. That is, perhaps for one thing: Did that person who got tied up in Scorpio's back room ever get out? Inquiring minds would love to know.