In the last twenty years Lee Child wrote more than twenty thrillers, featuring his famous creation, Jack Reacher. Just when we think the series is running out of steam, The Midnight Line, the 22nd entry into the series, bursts into the scene and providing readers with a breath of fresh air. In comparison to Lee Child's earlier works, such as Make Me, the pace in The Midnight Line is slower, and the tone is more thoughtful. The result is a Jack Reacher book that reads more like a detective novel than an action thriller, and I liked this book.
Jack Reacher walked passed the pawn shop window in a small Wisconsin town. He saw a class ring. It was tiny. The ring belonged to a woman, her initials were carved on the inside. On the ring said: West Point, 2005.
2005, a rough year; Afghanistan and then Iraq, it was a tough time to graduate. Why would she pawn her ring and gave up 4 years of hard work? Curiosity seized Jack. He had to know.
Just like that, Jack began to search for this woman. The quest took him to the upper Midwest, from the small towns to the middle of nowhere. Along the way Jack encountered cops, gangs, bikers, and a strange PI wearing a black suit. The more Jack dug into this, the more harrowing his journey became.
This time, Jack is treading the midnight line, and some lines should never be crossed.
But we are talking about Jack Reacher, and his first rule is that no one should cross him either.
My thoughts on this book:
The Midnight Line had Jack Reacher doing more detective works than playing the action hero, and this is a welcomed change. This also means The Midnight Line is slower in pace, especially in comparison to the earlier, more action-oriented entries such as Make Me or Gone Tomorrow. I guess this book is a slow burn, but for those with patience, the story did deliver a satisfying conclusion, alongside some twists and surprises.
The theme of justice permeates throughout this series, and The Midnight Line is no exception. This time, Jack Reacher is still the lone ranger exacting justice in a small Midwest town. However, in this book Jack was confronted by the grey areas of morality, where things aren't exactly black or white. I will not spoil the story, but in this book, for the first time, Jack faced a dilemma, where he had to choose between either the law, or being humane. As usual, I believe Jack Reacher did the right thing in the end, and this is what made this character so enduring and the stories so satisfying; unlike the most of us, Jack is the person who can do the right thing.
The Midnight Line is a good detective novel, and most of the book is believable. This does not, however, mean the book does not require suspension of disbelief. In fact, the one flaw of this book is that Jack Reacher's character requires too much suspension of disbelief. Too much suspension of disbelief? But all heroes in action thrillers, such as James Bond, Jack Ryan, Robert London, they all demand readers to suspend their disbelief to some extent, isn't that right?
Well, as I read more and more Jack Reacher novels, I find myself in the need of suspending more and more disbelief to enjoy them. While I would call myself a fan of Lee Child's works, but admittedly the suspension of disbelief is becoming too much and it is starting to tarnish my enjoyment of these books.
Let me explain. In 1997, Lee Child released the first Jack Reacher novel, Killing Floor. At the time, Jack Reacher was 37 years old. This means, 20 books and 20 years later would put Jack Reacher's age to 57 at the start of The Midnight Line. In this book, the baddies described Jack Reacher with figures of speech such as,"the bigfoot coming out of the forest", and "the incredible hulk". The narratives in this book had me envision Jack Reacher looking like a WWF wrestler on the green side of thirties; six foot three, two sixty pounds, big shoulders and thick arms. However, Jack Reacher is a drifter, he doesn't work out and his diet for the last 20 years consists of cheese burgers and pancakes with bacons. Not to mention he is 57 years old. Yet, this book still described Jack Reacher as a one man tank, who can fight and take down men like Mike Tyson in his prime. How is that possible? I think this book is demanding too much suspension of disbelief from its readers. It would be interesting to see how Lee Child will depict Jack Reacher in the future books, as our beloved hero grows older and older.
That is my only qualm with The Midnight Line. Otherwise, if you don't think about Jack Reacher's age too much, then this book is a very good action thriller. It has a gripping story with twists and turns, and it has enough actions along the way to spice up the story. Pick up The Midnight Line, relax on your couch, and have fun with the book. You won't regret it.