The Midnight Line
By Lee Child. (Delacorte, 384 pages, $28.99.)
“It was a very small ring,” but when Jack Reacher spotted it in a pawnshop window in central Wisconsin, it stopped him cold. The ring was stamped, “West Point 2005.”
“A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan,” he thinks. Reacher, the ex-military policeman at the core of Lee Child’s perennial bestselling mystery series, has a battle-hardened moral code, but one with a touch of tenderness. And when he considers what kind of unlucky circumstances would make a West Point grad give up that hard-earned ring, he decides to find out, and to return it to its owner, if she’s alive.
In his estimation she could be battling PTSD, drug addiction, or maybe something else — the pitfalls back home for serial soldiers serving in endless deployments are legion. But once Reacher decides something, it’s pretty much happening. And so we’re off, on a deeply satisfying page-turner of the highest degree.
From a lowlife bar to the wilds of Wyoming, Reacher tracks the clues, only to discover the ring is just one facet of a large, lucrative and dangerous criminal conspiracy. This, Child’s 22nd book in the series, has heart to spare, and it proves the franchise has plenty of gas left in its tank.
The Little French Bistro
By Nina George. (Crown, 311 pages, $26.)
Marianne Lanz picked a picturesque place to die. Then she found a better place to live. She is 60 when her suicide attempt on Pont Neuf in Paris fails. Instead of returning to Germany with her lout of a husband, she flees west to Finistère in Brittany, literally “the end of the earth.” There in “The Little French Bistro,” she starts rebuilding her life. In the process, she develops a gift for helping others, too.
Nina George, bestselling author of “The Little Paris Bookshop,” reprises her theme of reinvention for people of all ages, with the help of the French countryside. A resident of Brittany, George brings to life the rugged terrain and distinct Breton culture, peopling it with colorful characters.
Her Marianne echoes the story of “Shirley Valentine,” with her search for the balance between independence and true love. Readers who love food, art, France and love stories can feast on this optimistic adventure.