Cover image for The midnight line : a Jack Reacher novel
The midnight line : a Jack Reacher novel
1st large print ed.
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518 pages (large print) ; 24 cm.
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"Reacher rides the bus north from Milwaukee. At a comfort stop in Wisconsin dairy country he takes a stroll. Among the cheap junk in a pawn shop window he notices a West Point class ring for sale. It's tiny. A woman cadet's ring. Why would she pawn it? Reacher knows what Serena Sanderson must have gone through to get it. He fights through a biker gang and a South Dakota gangster, following the trail of the ring to the emptiness of Wyoming, in search of Major Sanderson. Is she OK?"--


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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * Lee Child returns with a gripping new powerhouse thriller featuring Jack Reacher, "one of this century's most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes" ( The Washington Post ).

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.

Praise for The Midnight Line

"Puts Reacher just where we want him." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A gem." -- Chicago Tribune

"A timely, suspenseful, morally complex thriller, one of the best I've read this year . . . Child weaves in a passionately told history of opioids in American life. . . . Child's outrage over it is only just barely contained." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A perfect example of Lee Child's talent . . . Lee Child is the master of plotting. . . . This is Child's most emotional book to date. . . . This is not just a good story; it is a story with a purpose and a message." -- Huffington Post

"I just read the new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. . . . It is as good as they always are. I read every single one." -- Malcolm Gladwell

Author Notes

Lee Child is the pen name of Jim Grant, who was born in Coventry, England on October 29, 1954. He attended law school at Sheffield University, worked in the theater, and finally worked as a presentation director for Granada Television. After being laid off in 1995 because of corporate restructuring, he decided to write a book. The Killing Floor won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and became the first book in the Jack Reacher series. In 2012, the first Jack Reacher film was released starring Tom Cruise. His book's, Worth Dying For and Past Tense, made the bestseller list in 2018.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bestseller Child's superlative 22nd Jack Reacher novel picks up where 2015's Make Me left off. While riding a bus in Wisconsin to the next "end-of-the-line place," Reacher gets off at a rest stop "on the sad side of a small town." In a pawn shop window, he spots a West Point ring, class of 2005, sized for a small woman. As a West Pointer himself, Reacher knows what it takes to earn that ring-and he wants to find out who it belonged to and why it was pawned. The trail takes him to Rapid City, S.Dak., where he encounters shady Arthur Scorpio-ostensibly a laundromat owner, but of interest to local police and a private investigator from Chicago-and, eventually, to Wyoming. The identity of the ring's owner is established reasonably quickly, and her backstory (and what Reacher does about it) takes the reader from the wars in Afghanistan to the opioid crisis in America (including a damning thumbnail history of how corporate America has profited from selling heroin in one form or another and a devastating portrait of opioid addiction). As usual, Child makes his narrative entirely credible-and compulsively readable. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

The softer side of Jack Reacher? Huh? Well, everything's relative, but this time out Reacher does far less head-butting than usual, and the action is scaled down several notches, too. It starts with the former MP turned off-the-grid wanderer strolling through a Wisconsin town comfort break on his bus to nowhere when he spots a ring in a pawn-shop window not just any ring but a West Point class ring. West Pointers don't pawn class rings, so, naturally, Reacher wants to find out what happened. His attempts to trace the ring land him in the middle of an elaborate opioid-distribution operation originating in, of all places, a laundromat in South Dakota. Reacher tracks the ring's owner with relative ease, but that's where the trouble starts. Not so much with bad guys though there are some of those but with an army major desperately in need of help. Showing his sensitive side and his usual shrewd ability to figure stuff out, Reacher proves the man for the job. Not your usual Reacher fare God help us, we crave more head-banging but a very good, multifaceted novel about dealing with the unthinkable. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: It's automatic: Reacher gets off a bus, and Child lands on the NYT best-seller list.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2017 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

harry bosch is a one-of-a-kind hero who started out pretty wild when he returned from Vietnam to become a cop, but over the years he's developed into someone you want to ride with. Michael Connelly's two kinds of TRUTH (Little, Brown, $29) picks up the former homicide detective three years after he was forced into retirement from the Los Angeles Police Department. Since then, he's been doing volunteer work on cold cases for the San Fernando force, working out of an office in the onetime drunk tank of the county jail. ("Sometimes I think I can still smell the puke.") The first plotline presents itself when Bosch opens the unsolved case of Esmerelda Tavares, who supposedly walked out of her house 15 years earlier, leaving her sleeping baby behind. Up next is something that spells real trouble for the detective. The L.A.P.D.'s Conviction Integrity Unit comes calling to challenge him on behalf of Preston Borders, a serial murderer he put away back in 1988. Using new DNA tests, a review of the evidence indicates that another man, a rapist who has since died, was the real killer and Borders is about to be set free. (The matter is eventually resolved in tense courtroom scenes featuring Mickey Haller, Bosch's half brother and an ace litigator.) The third and most disturbing case in this jam-packed narrative is as ugly as today's headlines, the double murder of father-andson pharmacists that opens up an investigation into a newfangled twist on the prescription drugs racket. (With "55,000 dead and counting," Harry is told, this is "the growth industry of this country.") It seems that international racketeers have an elaborate system for moving drugs, enslaving homeless addicts who need to feed their habit. Bosch does great work undercover as a strung-out oxycodone user, although he nearly gets himself killed in a spectacular way. Connelly's cop has always been a tough guy, but here he reveals a compassionate side. He's haunted by that abandoned baby. He keeps replaying his first sight of the father-and-son pharmacists. And when he finds himself among the oxy addicts, he feels uncomfortably close to his fellow man. DESPITE THE FALSE IMPRESSION left by two misbegotten movies, Jack Reacher is a big guy, so big that someone calls him "Bigfoot." Lee Child makes that clear in THE MIDNIGHT LINE (Delacorte, $28.99), which puts Reacher just where we want him - on an endless road trip, hitching rides and serving as "human amphetamine" for tired truckers by keeping them awake. (Standing sideways with one foot in the traffic lane is supposed to disguise some of that 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound bulk.) Reacher is headed nowhere when he stops at the window of a pawnshop "on the sad side of a small town." On impulse, he buys a handsome ring, obviously made for a woman, engraved with "West Point" and "2005." "I know how hard she worked for this," he tells the shop owner. "So now I'm wondering what kind of unlucky circumstance made her give it up." Honor bound, Child's road warrior marches into a dirty criminal enterprise that preys on wounded veterans, which saddens Reacher and makes him very, very angry. IF YOU CAN pick up CRAZY LIKE A FOX (Ballantine, $27) and recognize the voices of Comet, a wise old gray fox; Dasher, a hound at the top of his game; and Golliwog, a snippy calico cat, you qualify as a member of the pack that surrounds Sister Jane Arnold, Master of Jefferson Hunt and the sleuth in Rita Mae Brown's enchanting novels set in the Virginia horse country. Many of the human characters are rich and social, some with "new money" and others with roots in the old Southern aristocracy. They keep horses and live in houses "filled with history, murders, fire, the severing of family ties, and neverending stories of ghosts." Sure enough, on a visit to the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, Sister thinks she sees the ghostly figure of Wesley Carruthers stealing a valuable old hunting horn, and the evidence is right there on her friend's cellphone. That's just the kind of story that adds to the charm of Brown's whimsical mysteries, with their thrilling hunts and intelligent animals. THE GREAT SWEDISH author Henning Mankell died in 2015, leaving one last, gutwrenching novel behind. AFTER THE FIRE (Vintage, paper, $16.95), translated by Marlaine Delargy, is that novel. Fans of Kurt Wallander may be disappointed since this book doesn't feature Mankell's towering detective, who solved his last case in 2011 in "The Troubled Man." Here Mankell's narrator is Fredrik Welin, and he's nothing like Wallander. A former surgeon, now 70 years old, Welin abandoned civilized society in shame many years earlier and lives by himself on a remote island. "I couldn't for the life of me understand why I should stop communicating with old friends just because they were dead," he says, explaining why he doesn't exactly feel isolated. When someone sets his house on fire, the police are as baffled as he is, eventually concluding that Welin set the blaze himself. To clear his name and salvage something of his old life, this reclusive man must return to the outside world - but not before Mankell scalds us with his searing thoughts about being old and living alone. ? Marilyn STASIO has covered crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.

Kirkus Review

A glimpse of a West Point class ring in a pawn shop window sends Jack Reacher on his latest adventure in the 22nd entry in Child's (No Middle Name, 2017, etc.) series.On his latest travel to nowhere, Reacher, the peripatetic badass/guardian angel, steps off a bus at a rest stop and, while stretching his legs, glimpses a ring belonging to a female cadet. Knowing what it takes to earn that ring, especially for the women who still have to prove themselves to the military, Reacher buys it and, with nothing more than the initials inscribed inside to guide him, sets out to return to it to his fellow West Point alum. Of course it lands him in trouble, this time with a ring of opioid dealers, but at least he has a former FBI agent-turned-detective and the sister of the ring's owner for company. It's a good idea to give Reacher company since he plays well with others when they're on his side. How he plays badly with those who aren't is also part of the fun. So are the clever Sherlock-ian deductive skills that Reacher, a former Army investigator, puts to good use. Blessedly, there are none of the grisly moments that broke faith with readers in the series' last installment (Night School, 2016). And the book is very smart about illegal drugs, understanding that the face of the present crisis is largely white and rural and that the government's attempt to crack down on drugs ignores both the very real pleasure and the often necessary pain relief they bring to users, especially vets. The book makes a rather icky sentimental misstep toward the end. It does, however, suggest something that has not been visible in the series' previous entries: a creeping sadness in Reacher's wanderings that, set here among the vast and empty landscapes of Wyoming, resembles the peculiarly solitary loneliness of the classic American hero. This return to form is also a hint of new ground to be covered. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

In Child's latest Jack Reacher book (after Night School), his protagonist rambles into a Wisconsin pawnshop and notices a woman's 2005 West Point graduation ring. Knowing the effort a female cadet needed to earn the ring, he wonders: What motivated her to sell it? Reacher buys the ring, and after reading the initials inscribed inside, sets out to find his fellow alum. He quickly learns her name, Rose Sanderson; however, understanding her accomplishments requires more time. Along the way to the Wyoming wilderness and with the assistance of a former FBI agent and Rose's sister, he encounters musclemen, swindlers, bikers, and crooked cops who control a vast, illegal drug enterprise protecting opioid dealers and abusers as well as vets. Reacher also learns about the pains, sorrows, and fears Sanderson internalized while on duty in Iran and Afghanistan-and the residual effects she manages back home. Child places the present opioid crisis in context, which may help readers better understand drug use, especially among vets. VERDICT Child does a stellar job this time by not following his customary formula; his usually stoic hero who rarely displays softness and compassion is hit hard emotionally by this case. [See Prepub Alert, 5/15/17.]-Jerry P. Miller. Cambridge, MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Jack Reacher and Michelle Chang spent three days in Milwaukee. On the fourth morning she was gone. Reacher came back to the room with coffee and found a note on his pillow. He had seen such notes before. They all said the same thing. Either directly or indirectly. Chang's note was indirect. And more elegant than most. Not in terms of presentation. It was a ballpoint scrawl on motel notepaper gone wavy with damp. But elegant in terms of expression. She had used a simile, to explain and flatter and apologize all at once. She had written, "You're like New York City. I love to visit, but I could never live there." He did what he always did. He let her go. He understood. No apology required. He couldn't live anywhere. His whole life was a visit. Who could put up with that? He drank his coffee, and then hers, and took his toothbrush from the bathroom glass, and walked away, through a knot of streets, left and right, toward the bus depot. She would be in a taxi, he guessed. To the airport. She had a gold card and a cell phone. At the depot he did what he always did. He bought a ticket for the first bus out, no matter where it was going. Which turned out to be an end-­of-­the-­line place way north and west, on the shore of Lake Superior. Fundamentally the wrong direction. Colder, not warmer. But rules were rules, so he climbed aboard. He sat and watched out the window. Wisconsin flashed by, its hayfields baled and stubbly, its pastures worn, its trees dark and heavy. It was the end of summer. It was the end of several things. She had asked the usual questions. Which were really statements in disguise. She could understand a year. Absolutely. A kid who grew up on bases overseas, and was then deployed to bases overseas, with nothing in between except four years at West Point, which wasn't exactly known as a leisure-­heavy institution, then obviously such a guy was going to take a year to travel and see the sights before he settled down. Maybe two years. But not more. And not permanently. Face it. The pathology meter was twitching. All said with concern, and no judgment. No big deal. Just a two-­minute conversation. But the message was clear. As clear as such messages could be. Something about denial. He asked, denial of what? He didn't secretly think his life was a problem. That proves it, she said. So he got on the bus to the end-­of-­the-­line place, and he would have ridden it all the way, because rules were rules, except he took a stroll at the second comfort stop, and he saw a ring in a pawn shop window. The second comfort stop came late in the day, and it was on the sad side of a small town. Possibly a seat of county government. Or some minor part of it. Maybe the county police department was headquartered there. There was a jail in town. That was clear. Reacher could see bail bond offices, and a pawn shop. Full service, right there, side by side on a run-­down street beyond the restroom block. He was stiff from sitting. He scanned the street beyond the restroom block. He started walking toward it. No real reason. Just strolling. Just loosening up. As he got closer he counted the guitars in the pawn shop window. Seven. Sad stories, all of them. Like the songs on country radio. Dreams, unfulfilled. Lower down in the window were glass shelves loaded with smaller stuff. All kinds of jewelry. Including rings. Including class rings. All kinds of high schools. Except one of them wasn't. One of them was West Point 2005. It was a handsome ring. It was a conventional shape, and a conventional style, with intricate gold filigree, and a black stone, maybe semi-­precious, maybe glass, surrounded by an oval hoop that had West Point around the top, and 2005 around the bottom. Old-­style letters. A classic approach. Either respect for bygone days, or a lack of imagination. West Pointers designed their own rings. Whatever they wanted. An old tradition. Or an old entitlement, perhaps, because West Point class rings had been the first class rings of all. It was a very small ring. Reacher wouldn't have gotten it on any of his fingers. Not even his left-­hand pinky, not even past the nail. Certainly not past the first knuckle. It was tiny. It was a woman's ring. Possibly a replica for a girlfriend or a fiancée. That happened. Like a tribute or a souvenir. But possibly not. Reacher opened the pawn shop door. He stepped inside. A guy at the register looked up. He was a big bear of a man, scruffy and unkempt. Maybe in his middle thirties, dark, with plenty of fat over a big frame anyway. With some kind of cunning in his eyes. Certainly enough to perfect his response to his sudden six-­five two-­fifty visitor. Driven purely by instinct. The guy wasn't afraid. He had a loaded gun under the counter. Unless he was an idiot. Which he didn't look. All the same, the guy didn't want to risk sounding aggressive. But he didn't want to sound obsequious, either. A matter of pride. So he said, "How's it going?" Not well, Reacher thought. To be honest. Chang would be back in Seattle by then. Back in her life. But he said, "Can't complain." "Can I help you?" "Show me your class rings." The guy threaded the tray backward off the shelf. He put it on the counter. The West Point ring had rolled over, like a tiny golf ball. Reacher picked it up. It was engraved inside. Which meant it wasn't a replica. Not for a fiancée or a girlfriend. Replicas were never engraved. An old tradition. No one knew why. Not a tribute, not a souvenir. It was the real deal. A cadet's own ring, earned over four hard years. Worn with pride. Obviously. If you weren't proud of the place, you didn't buy a ring. It wasn't compulsory. The engraving said S.R.S. 2005. The bus blew its horn three times. It was ready to go, but it was a passenger short. Reacher put the ring down and said, "Thank you," and walked out of the store. He hustled back past the restroom block and leaned in the door of the bus and said to the driver, "I'm staying here." "No refunds." "Not looking for one." "You got a bag in the hold?" "No bag." "Have a nice day." The guy pulled a lever and the door sucked shut in Reacher's face. The engine roared and the bus moved off without him. He turned away from the diesel smoke and walked back toward the pawn shop. Chapter 2 The guy in the pawn shop was a little disgruntled to have to get the ring tray out again so soon after he had put it away. But he did, and he placed it in the same spot on the counter. The West Point ring had rolled over again. Reacher picked it up. He said, "Do you remember the woman who pawned this?" "How would I?" the guy said. "I got a million things in here." "You got records?" "You a cop?" "No," Reacher said. "Everything in here is legal." "I don't care. All I want is the name of the woman who brought you this ring." "Why?" "We went to the same school." "Where is that? Upstate?" "East of here," Reacher said. "You can't be a classmate. Not from 2005. No offense." "None taken. I was from an earlier generation. But the place doesn't change much. Which means I know how hard she worked for this ring. So now I'm wondering what kind of unlucky circumstance made her give it up." The guy said, "What kind of a school was it?" "They teach you practical things." "Like a trade school?" "More or less." "Maybe she died in an accident." "Maybe she did," Reacher said. Or not in an accident, he thought. There had been Iraq, and there had been Afghanistan: 2005 had been a tough year to graduate. He said, "But I would like to know for sure." "Why?" the guy said again. "I can't tell you exactly." "Is it an honor thing?" "I guess it could be." "Trade schools have that?" "Some of them." "There was no woman. I bought that ring. With a lot of other stuff." "When?" "About a month ago." "From who?" "I'm not going to tell you my business. Why should I? It's all legal. It's all perfectly legitimate. The state says so. I have a license and I pass all kinds of inspections." "Then why be shy about it?" "It's private information." Reacher said, "Suppose I buy the ring?" "It's fifty bucks." "Thirty." "Forty." "Deal," Reacher said. "So now I'm entitled to know its provenance." "This ain't Sotheby's auction house." "Even so." The guy paused a beat. Then he said, "It was from a guy who helps out with a charity. People donate things and take the deduction. Mostly old cars and boats. But other things, too. The guy gives them an inflated receipt for their tax returns, and then he sells the things he gets wherever he can, for whatever he can, and then he cuts a check to the charity. I buy the small stuff from him. I get what I get, and I hope to turn a profit." "So you think someone donated this ring to a charity and took a deduction on their income taxes?" "Makes sense, if the original person died. From 2005. Part of the estate." "I don't think so," Reacher said. "I think a relative would have kept it." "Depends if the relative was eating well." "You got tough times here?" "I'm OK. But I own the pawn shop." "Yet people still donate to good causes." "In exchange for phony receipts. In the end the government eats the tax relief. Welfare by another name." Reacher said, "Who is the charity guy?" "I won't tell you that." "Why not?" "It's none of your business. I mean, who the hell are you?" "Just a guy already having a pretty bad day. Not your fault, of course, but if asked to offer advice I would have to say it might prove a dumb idea to make my day worse. You might be the straw that breaks the camel's back." "You threatening me now?" "More like the weather report. A public service. Like a tornado warning. Prepare to take cover." Excerpted from The Midnight Line by Lee Child All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.