The Midnight Line

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I envision a conversation that may have taken place between Lee Child and a friend, shortly before work started on The Midnight Line.

"Lee, your books are great, but you seem obligated to stick in a violent scene every 50 pages or so. Does your publishing contract require that?"

"No, not at all."

"So it's just something you think you need to do to keep the reader paying attention or something?"

"Hm, maybe. Unconciously."

"I bet you couldn't go … say … a hundred pages without sticking in some sort of fight, shooting, stabbing, or otherwise violent death."

"'Bet', you say? OK. And to make it interesting, let's make it three hundred pages."

And so we have The Midnight Line, where [slight spoiler content ahead] our hero, Jack Reacher, beats the crap out of six bikers on pages 23-27. And then no actual violence until page 354.

This book may also set a record for fewest casualties in a Reacher novel. (I haven't been keeping track, but I bet someone out there is.)

Anyway, things kick off when Reacher gets off a bus at a comfort stop in a small Midwest burg, in the sad part of town. When his attention is pricked by a ring in a pawnshop window: class of 2005, West Point. Small, obviously for a woman's finger. Reacher is touched—that couldn't have been an easy sacrifice—and he decides (having nothing better to do) to discover the story behind the pawned ring and its ex-owner.

All he wants to know is the story. But does he, in the course of finding that out, happen upon an immense criminal conspiracy? Of course he does. He also accumulates some allies, in the form of local law enforcement, a private eye, and the PI's client.

As always, a masterful job from Mr. Child, even with the change of pace. I see the next one, Past Tense, is set at least partly in my neck of the woods. Once the price comes down.