By Chet Yarbrough
The Midnight Line
By: Lee Child
Narrated by Dick Hill
Lee Child (British Author of the Jack Reacher novels.)
Let Lee Child entertain you.
“The Midnight Line” is Child’s latest chapter of the Jack Reacher series. This is the first Lee Child novel for this reviewer. Reacher is put at risk by a drug dealer who tells a hit man to be on the lookout for “big foot” or the “hulk”.
Child suggests 6′ 4″ Lawrence Dallaglio (Retired English Rugby Player) is the image of who he thought of as Jack Reacher.
Having seen a Jack Reacher movie, one understands why many Reacher fans are disappointed with Tom Cruise’s billing. The diminutive 5′ 7″ Tom Cruise does not fit Child’s characterization, but Cruise became Reacher in a film from Child’s book, “One Shot”.
In two senses, Lee Child is a spartan writer. He writes short, clear, precise sentences, and creates a Herculean “spartan like” character. “The Midnight Line” is a guilty entertainment for mystery and action addicts.
Jack Reacher is a loner. Reacher is a combat veteran with an investigator’s curiosity. He is a West Point graduate who left the military after 11 years. He is a former major in the Military Police. He lives in the moment. He travels the roads of America without a suitcase and often without a ticket to ride. He hitchhikes. He wears one set of clothes until he needs a new set. He discards the old and buys new.
The story begins with a tiny ring that Reacher happens to see in a pawn shop. The ring is from a former cadet at West Point. From there, the listener hitches a ride with Reacher to South Dakota and Wyoming.
Reacher is a phenom. Not only because he is big but because he forgets nothing and sees everything. With remembering and seeing, he intuits what is going to happen next. Whether in a fight or personal crises, Reacher assesses details and sees the future.
Lee Child places Reacher in a story of addictive drug manufacturing, illegal distribution, and human destruction.
The author’s dialog is short and to the point. Reacher is almost supernatural but just believable enough that a listener identifies with his heroics. Child adds mystery to his characters. His terse sentences makes listeners want to know more.
“The Midnight Line” is partly about a missing person (a twin of a beautiful woman). The missing person is a former graduate of West Point that has pawned her ring. Reacher knows something is wrong because he knows how difficult and psychologically rewarding it is to graduate from West Point.
The missing person is involved in an interstate illegal drug trade for reasons that are not clear until the end of Child’s story. It’s a good guy, bad guy story with twists.
A listener learns something about the illicit drug business in the United States. How and why it works. Particularly how it feeds off a culture that insists all human pain must be medicinally treated. And, how an injured veteran of war, with a distinguished service record, can become an addict.
In the end, “The Midnight Line” is an entertainment. However, it also says something about addiction–its causes, its consequences, and the amoral businesses that serve it.