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Book Author: Lee Child

THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child: Book Review

It’s pretty safe to say that wherever Jack Reacher goes, trouble will find him.  Even as he follows his usual random method of travel, going to a bus station and taking the first bus that leaves regardless of its direction, somehow Reacher will find himself in the middle of a situation that needs his special skills.  And a quick stop in a small town in Wisconsin proves no different.

Having just come to the end of a very brief romantic interlude–too brief to call it a relationship in any sense of the word–Reacher hops on the first bus out of Milwaukee.  It’s heading northwest, but as he has no particular destination in mind, that direction will work as well as any other.

And he would have continued on that route until the bus reached its destination except that when the bus halts for a rest stop, Reacher goes out to stretch his legs.  Passing a pawnshop, he glances in the window and sees the items one usually finds in such a store–musical instruments, small electronics, and class rings.  But a closer look at the rings shows that one of them is from West Point, Jack’s alma mater, and its size shows it belonged to a female alum.  Knowing how difficult it is to graduate from the military academy, Jack wonders what the circumstances could be that would explain the necessity of pawning an item of such personal value.

After getting the name of the person who pawned the ring, Jack finds the man, nicknamed Jimmy Rat, where the shop owner said he would be–at a nearby bar where a number of Harley-Davidsons are parked.  Jimmy is a small guy, but he’s surrounded by a group of seven men.  Jimmy refuses to tell Reacher where he got the ring, and a fight becomes imminent.  The nine men leave the bar to fight outside, and in less than five minutes only Jimmy and Jack are still standing.  Jimmy finally gives Jack the name and location where the ring came from, but that information comes with a warning.  “This is not a guy you want to meet.”  “Neither were you,” Reacher says, “but here I am anyway.”

In The Midnight Line, Reacher is not alone.  He’s joined by Terry Bramall, a former F.B.I. agent who is working for Jane Mackenzie, an Illinois woman searching for her missing sister.  In addition, there’s Gloria Nakamura, a detective in the small Rapid City, South Dakota police department that has long been aware of a criminal enterprise led by local businessman Arthur Scorpio but has been unable to prove his guilt.  Now, the search for the missing sister, the owner of the West Point ring, and the illegal activities of Scorpio will meet, and it will take the combined efforts of Reacher, Mackenzie, Bramall, and Nakamura  to bring the case to its conclusion.

As is true of all of Lee Child’s thrillers, The Midnight Line is a compulsive read.  You know that Jack Reacher will prevail in the end, that there will be violence and murders, but that Jack and the person/people he’s protecting will be saved.  But that won’t stop you from holding your breath and reading until the very last word.

You can read more about Lee Child at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

PERSONAL by Lee Child: Book Review

Jack Reacher is back, and that’s a good thing.  Actually, it’s a great thing because no matter how quickly Lee Child adds another novel to this series, it’s not often enough for me.

 Although Reacher has been out of the army for years (he was in military intelligence) and has no fixed address, the powers-that-be are able to find him.  As Reacher says, “You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you.”  Especially when you have talents that organization needs.

An unknown sniper has tried to assassinate the president of France, and the U.S. military is afraid the gunman might be an American.  When Reacher is taken to meet with his former commander, General O’Day, he’s told that the list of possible gunmen has been narrowed down to four–one from Russia, one from Israel, one from Great Britain, and John Knott, the American that Jack Reacher put in prison to serve a fifteen year sentence. 

But now it’s sixteen years later, and Knott has been released.  Naturally he’s been under close surveillance, but although he returned to his Arkansas home when he completed his prison term his home is empty and his whereabouts unknown.  Knott was an expert sniper when he was in the army, and while he was in prison he devoted himself to vigorous exercise to keep in combat-ready shape.

The army believes that the sniper is going to attack one of the members of the G8, the organization of eight leading industrial countries, to redeem himself after his failed attempt on the French president.   Knott is known to be able to shoot to kill at fourteen hundred yards; if he is the gunman, he is a very dangerous man indeed.

When Reacher and CIA employee Casey Nice get to Knott’s home it’s deserted, as expected.  But inside the run-down house there are multiple photos of Reacher with bullet holes and knife wounds in various parts of his body.  It’s all too clear that if Knott is the sniper who is trying to assassinate a member of the G8, Reacher is another of his targets.   As Reacher recognizes, the army’s plan is for him to be used as bait to get to John Knott.  As the novel’s title says, it’s very personal.

Lee Child’s novels are nearly impossible to put down.  It’s not that the reader doesn’t know that Reacher will be victorious (after all, he’s the hero of the series), but the cleverness of the plotting and the incredible detail keep one riveted.  Even if you, like me, are totally unfamiliar with the military or snipers, Personal will have you hooked until the last page.

You can read more about Lee Child at this web site

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads blog at her web site.







PERSUADER by Lee Child: Book Review

“Cops put things right.   They look after people.”

That’s the quote three pages from the end of Persuader by Lee Child.  It was Jack Reacher’s answer to a question posed to him ten years ago, when he was still an Army MP.  The question was asked by a young sergeant just posted to his staff.  Ten years later, that’s still his answer when he’s asked that question, although the sergeant was killed the day after she asked it.

Persuader is the twelfth novel in the Reacher series, and like all the others it’s masterful.   Reacher had gotten to the rank of major before he was rifed (let go, downsized, or, as the Brits say, made redundant).  The army was getting smaller and he had risen as far as he was going to, so he left.  Now he criss-crosses the country with, if I remember correctly, his wallet, passport, and toothbrush, nothing more.  And he finds trouble wherever he goes.

The novel has one of the greatest opening chapters I’ve ever read, with first and last sentences that make sure you won’t put the book down.  First–“The cop climbed out of the car exactly four minutes before he got shot.”  Last–“The message said, I’m in.”  Between those two sentences is a set-up in which Reacher and DEA agents foil the staged kidnapping attempt of a college student.  During the attempt Reacher “shoots and kills” a campus cop so that he can “rescue” the young man and thus get into his father’s house.  The father is a suspected drug dealer who is believed to have abducted a federal agent.  But getting in turns out to be the easy part.

The book goes back and forth between this present-day situation and one a decade earlier when Reacher unwittingly sent his sergeant to her death.  At that time Reacher thought he had killed the man responsible for the sergeant’s death, but now he sees the man on a Boston street.  A phone call that Reacher makes gives him information that connects him to the killer who appears to be connected to the college student’s father.  If all this sounds unbelievably entangled, Child makes you believe it.  In my opinion he writes the most realistic dialogue in any of today’s crime novels.

Child’s books are not for the squeamish.  There’s always a lot of blood and killing.  But somehow the violence never seems gratuitous.  There are bad guys out there, and when Reacher confronts them it’s them or him. And we’re always rooting for him.

As I was writing this review, I went to Child’s web site to check on something.  I clicked on to his Appearances page and found to my delight that he will be autographing 61 Hours, his latest novel, at Borders Books in South Portland, Maine, on the same day I’ll be there visiting family.  Guess where I’ll be on June 4th?

You can find out more about Lee Child at his web site