One for the Reacher Creatures! “The Midnight Line” by Lee Child – Book Review

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This book is the 23rd in the Jack Reacher series, and though no doubt it will appeal to the Reacher Creatures who will seemingly buy anything with his name attached, a little like the Beatles tat marketing rubbish back in the day, the problem with this book is that the plot is skimpy at best.

It centres around a tiny ring that Reacher sees in a pawn shop window – didn’t put Reacher down as a Bargain Hunt aficionado, but there we are, he must be getting on that way, age wise – welcome to the club, pal.

Anyway, the ring is a rare thing, given or awarded to a cadet passing out of Westpoint, as did Reacher back in the day, and a memento to be cherished for all time, and the thing is, the ring is so tiny it would not even go on Reacher’s pinky – meaning ladies and gentlemen?

Yes, you’ve got it, it belonged to a slight young woman, and Reacher can’t let that pass without finding out why she gave it up. (Or had it taken from her.) He buys the ring and he’s already on the road, searching for her, and that finger too, to return the ring to its rightful place, and not for the first time in Reacher books that all has echoes of fairy stories from long ago. That’s the main thrust of the plot, plus a man who may or may not have been eaten by a bear! Which is an interesting thought.

A Jack Reacher book is sold every nine seconds, so the final blurb blares out, and I can believe that too. You see them in every railway station and airport bookstore across the planet, but here’s an interesting thing. I have seen quite a few copies of this very book – still the most recent one, note – languishing in charity shops for a few pence, pristine and obviously unread, so what does that tell us, Jack?

It says that quite a few gift recipients have simply given up on reading the blessed things, and tossed them out, almost as soon as the present-giver had left the building.

So did I enjoy it? Of course I enjoyed it! I am after all, for my sins, something of a Reacher Creature myself, having read every one of the darned things, and I read it quickly too, but the problem is that with each passing one the plots seem to get thinner and less reader-involving – just my opinion, and glancing at the hundreds of reviews I am not alone in thinking that.

We all know how hard it is to keep churning out super books with great plots – and these books are still eminently readable, but hey, if you want a great plot try any of the first five in the series and you will see how much better they are than the last five.

We’ll miss him when he’s gone, both Jack and Lee, and thankfully there’s no sign that he is about to retire, or be retired. Fact is, it wouldn’t surprise me if we were writing and reading precisely the same comments here twenty years from now, those of us that are still about, that is  – and one more book a year and we’d be right up there approaching the half century.

In the meantime, scour the charity shops, for there’s a chance you’ll find a copy there. Today this book was £9.50 (hardback) in Tesco’s, and 20p (I kid you not) in the Scope charity shop in the high street, unread, untouched, and unblemished throughout. You decide! I know which I’d choose.  


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