The Midnight Line by Lee Child (Crime Novel, 2017).
Lee Child’s ruthless yet compassionate, ex-military policeman returns yet again in this soldily exciting hard-crime novel. This time, Jack Reacher’s constant wanderings around the country bring him to a smalltown pawn shop. There he spots a female veteran’s West Point Class Ring. A fellow graduate of the Military Academy, he is intrigued by the mystery of what would cause someone to sell what is generally considered an honored symbol of major achievement. What sort of desperation would trigger such a choice? Or was the ring possibly stolen or simply lost?
A desire to return the ring to its rightful owner takes him into unfamiliar territory: first to the Dakotas then into the even more sparsely populated mountains of Wyoming. Along the way, he encounters (among others) thuggish bikers; a stalwart Asian-American policewoman; a former FBI agent turned private eye; An ambitious DEA man; the rich if slightly clueless sister of the missing soldier; Rapid City, South Dakota’s leading crime boss and his very motley assortment of minions. And finally, inevitably, he locates the seriously war-wounded/now-painkiller-addicted owner of the ring.
What to do about the maimed war hero/how to help her while bringing down the leading bad guys become the twin, pressing final problems.
In the course of things, Jack finds himself up to his neck in the political, legal and medical aspects of the nation’s raging opiod crisis. Of course, this being a Reacher thriller, there’s plenty of violence, murky ethics and difficult choices to be made. Fans of the series will enjoy this latest adventure of their favorite not-quite-anti-hero and semi-vigilante, I’m sure. I did, as the moral ambiguity seems entirely appropriate to the storyline and its underlying realities.
People unacquainted with Child’s Reacher series will find it a powerful if harsh adventure, as well.