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Killing Floor: (Jack Reacher 1) Paperback – 5 Aug 2010
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"If Rolls-Royce wrote thrillers they would look a lot like the work of Child. This was the first Jack Reacher novel and with its lean, spare prose it has one of the most intriguing heroes of our times and displays a gift for explosive drama" (Daily Express)
"Stunningly dynamic" (Daily Mail)
"Races along, spattering blood and body parts on the way" (Sunday Telegraph)
"At least as good as any of Grisham's" (Cork Examiner)
About the Author
Lee Child is one of the world’s leading thriller writers. He was born in Coventry, raised in Birmingham, and now lives in New York. It is said one of his novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world, and are published in over one hundred territories. He is the recipient of many prizes, most recently the CWA’s Diamond Dagger for a writer of an outstanding body of crime fiction.
Jack Reacher, the first Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise, was based on the novel One Shot, and the second is Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
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Killing Floor does present a less refined Reacher but also reminds us that some basic themes (town in the middle of nowhere, a secret, an attractive lady cop) started from book one.
For want of nothing better to do, Reacher stops off in a small town as a famous blues singer was reputed to have died there. Instead he finds himself arrested for murder and a town with too much money and a dirty secret. A personal element keeps Reacher there trying to find out what is going on while the body count mounts up. Reacher comes over as a dangerous man and a killer in this, not a man to cross and quite prepared to exist outside of the law. There are hints of the character he would develop into and also of the style that Lee Child would develop. This is a longish book at over 500 pages, so the abrupt style is not in place yet. The story works as do the twists and you can see why this series developed into something that has often been very special.
The books starts well. Reacher arrives in a small town in the middle of nowhere after walking in the rain for several hours and is eating breakfast in a diner. The police enter and he is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. Hauled off to the local police station he is thrown into a cell and the accusations begin to pile up against him. Eventually he is taken to the local prison for the weekend, but there appears to be a mix-up and he is placed in the lifers' wing, and from then on things really start to look bleak.
It's a page turner, but personally I thought it was way, way too long, probably by 200 pages or so, and the whole book is utterly unbelievable but remains strangely enjoyable. Having read two Reacher books now my suspicion is that they all follow the same template, as both of the ones I've read have had very similar story arcs, but I've got a few in my pile still to be read so I'll reserve judgement until I've worked my way through those.
I first came across him being interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC's Hardtalk. He was making a lot of sense about his role as an author whose duty is to serve his readers what they want. And so I decided to read his first book.
The short sentences take some time to get used to but you soon get into the rhythm. Jack Reacher is an interesting hero and Child has a very observant eye for detail in small town America. Combine this with a good action plot with a lot of twists and turns and you have a book that is a real page turner.
I finished this very quickly and was straight onto the second one - Die Trying - about a white separatist group in Montana. Again unputdownable! Will now take a break, and then onto no. 3 - Tripwire.
Everything about this book spoke to me; simple, punchy lines, a thrilling plot involving a small town conspiracy, mystery, and the biggest badass you could ever imagine. Like any kid growing up in the nineties, I'd spent hours upon hours watching big action blockbusters. My heroes were Schwarzenegger and Stallone. And Killing Floor gave me Jack Reacher, a literary badass to rival the two of them in brawn, and rival Sherlock in brains. Reacher was a badass in every sense of the word. I was hooked from the first sentence.
The plot is well-paced and the set pieces in particular are what I admire most in Child's writing. I found the action scene involving the swimming pool to be the most exhilirating scene in the book. It's breathless and terrifying, and you can practically hear the thunderstorm cracking and booming in the background as Reacher tears a team of guys apart. I like the simple prose. Child doesn't go out to write a beautiful novel by any means. He tells it to you straight. In the world of literary novels that I was being forced into by college, this refreshed me. Made me feel fantastic.
Everything about this story got to me. Right place, right time. I loved Reacher, his spirit, his love for music with soul in it, his ability to kick ass and his strong sense of right and wrong. The character is larger than life in both body and spirit. This book had me gripped from the beginning. I strongly recommend you pick it up. Just don't expect a literary masterpiece. Expect a great thriller story that's fun to read from beginning to end, with a character you will fall in love with, guaranteed.