Lee Child’s twenty-second installment in his Jack Reacher series, The Midnight Line, is an elegant, vividly written tale. Reacher is, as always, a standout character, driven by his own code, principled, brutal, and pragmatic. I find him to be one of the best characters in the genre, but this more cerebral Reacher translated into a read that bordered on boring.
No one writes riveting dialogue and sly humor like Mr. Child. The exchanges between his characters are pithy, succinct, and driving with a rapid-fire delivery that is stellar. The author is also an expert in capturing the nuances of human behavior and movement on the page. He gives me just enough information about characters to create a colorful cast, and he keeps a perfect balance between action and exposition.
The plot for this thriller was poignant and moving, but it was severely lacking in intrigue and grip. And this is where my issue lies. If this were marketed as a character drama with a different main character, it would have been a great read. As it was, it was a solid read that delivered none of the fast-paced, riveting action that is expected with a story centered around Jack Reacher. The story was sorely lacking the taut pace, rousing fight scenes, and engaging mystery that is expected with a Jack Reacher thriller. The main character was there in fine—if tame and mulling—form, the requisite female character was present, but the rest of the story did not live up to expectation.
The Midnight Line does a superb job with portraying the abandonment veterans face upon returning home, the wars they fight even after leaving the battlefields. Lee Child’s writing is superb. But this thriller was less than thrilling with a long, slow, unsurprising plod back and forth across the wilderness of Wyoming.