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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2017
I’ve read all the Reacher books, but on conclusion of “The Midnight Line”, I thought it might be interesting to go back and compare to the first.
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.
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on 19 September 2017
Killing Floor

Back into the archives with this book by Lee Child featuring for the first time the character Jack Reacher. Reacher is a retired Military Policeman who since leaving the Army has wandered across the United States. Child has gone on to produce over twenty books featuring this character and there have been two feature films as well.

Reacher arrives in the town of Margrave, Georgia. He notes the pristine state of the town with its perfect sidewalks, manicured lawns and beautifully maintained buildings. However within thirty minutes of his arrival he is arrested allegedly for murder.

Managing to eventually prove his innocence Reacher intends to move on as quickly as he can. Then the identity of the murder victim is revealed and is quickly followed by other murders. That changes everything for Reacher. There is something rotten under the visual beauty of Margrave.

Reacher's enquiries lead him across the country as he uncovers a mass counterfeiting ring who will do anything to protect their enterprise. Throughout the book there is an underpinning influence of violence as Reacher takes all the necessary steps to uncover the perpetrators.

Interesting to note Child's acknowledgements at the start of the book. It appears that many of his previous writing submissions were turned down by publishers. As this first book was published could he have really imagined where it would ultimately lead?
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2016
This was the second Jack Reacher book I've read, and in my usual "do it the wrong way" style the first one I read was the most recent book, "Make Me", and the second was this, the first in the series. I thought "Make Me" was enjoyable but descended into farce towards the end, and I'd heard that the earlier books were better, so I decided to go back to the beginning.

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.
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on 4 March 2016
It was actually seeing the film of Jack Reacher that tempted me to start with the books, and I decided to start at the beginning as logic dictated. Usually coming at things the other way round (having read the book first), I was surprised from the set-go about how different the book and character felt to what I had seen on the screen. And I mean for the better. From the first-person narrative, to the harder, sterner character of jack Reacher himself, the book as seems to always be the case, was better than the film.

Killing Floor starts with a nomadic former military cop walking through the rain to a diner in the southern state of Georgia. In the quiet town of Margrave he intends to find out what happened to the blues guitarist Blind Blake, who disappeared round there some time in the 30s. It soon turns out to be the wrong place at the wrong time, and he finds himself arrested and accused of a far more recent murder. Margrave is a perfect little town, with immaculate shop fronts, trimmed lawns and gleaming statues. Jack Reacher doesn't fit in there, but something far more unkempt is hiding beneath the glossy surface.

Jack Reacher was by far my favourite character in the book. From his interest in the blues to his sharp, no nonsense intelligence, he's hard not to like. He also isn't a typical hero. His justice can be ugly and savage. His response is about right and wrong, not the right thing to do.The other characters also feel real and gritty enough to engage with.

The finale is a riveting set piece and will have you turning the pages with gusto. Like most of the action scenes, it is excitingly written with vivid descriptions and well executed.

My only slight grumble with the story was that I was able to guess most of the twists and plot turns along the way. It was an enjoyable read, but it certainly never had me guessing as to where it was going or how things would end, or who might turn up even. I also didn't feel especially enamoured with Roscoe, Reacher's love interest in the book. But these are very mild grumbles, it is a very enjoyable read.

If you like classic action adventure thrillers, this is definitely a book for you. It deals with some pretty heavy scenes of murder and threat, so is certainly a book for adults. But I for one will certainly happily go on another adventure with Jack Reacher as a reader.
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on 4 June 2014
This was the first book I'd read in the Jack Reacher series. I was in college at the time, feeling miserable because I was studying English Literature and all these literary novels I'd been made to read had drained my passion for reading. Like Jack Reacher stepping off the bus and walking to Margrave, picking up this book in a WHSmith at Leeds train station was a case of right place, right time.

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.
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on 28 November 2016
I've read a few of Child's recent books on Jack Reacher over the past few years, but not in order. So I figured I will try to read the series from book one. The general plusses of the Jack Reacher books are that they are easy-reads and have a good blend of logic/deduction and action, the downsides are that they are formulaic, in the sense that what starts as being a small incident escalates by halfway through a book to a nationwide/continentwide/worldwide threat that only Jack Reacher can solve. I would be happy occasionally if the story just covers his solving a small-town murder and stops there. Anyway, this book is no different in terms of formula.
I probably read Book 2 and probably the whole series despite that - as I said, it's an easy read and helps to alleviate boredom when on the train or plane, but I wouldn't say it's the best book that I ever read and there's probably better books that fit my criteria of easy read/deduction/action elsewhere.
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on 10 April 2018
I looked forward to reading this, my first of his books, by the good reports, but was very off-put early on by a completely unnecessary , really sickening description of prison violence (not related to the plot at all)., so if you like that sort of thing, fine, but it's not for me.
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on 4 October 2015
I love this character. It's not the first Jack Reacher book I've read but it's the first in the series. I've bought it for my brother and decided to read it first before I sent it on to him.

If you like your strong male action figures like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, Sylvester Stallone in Rambo then you will like this character. No one gets by Jack Reacher.

Jack used to be an investigator in the military policy, hunting trained killers gone bad. Now retired he just wants to wander across America, going from town to town. He is arrested for a recent murder, as he is the only stranger in town, but he ends up helping out with the investigation as he has a personal connection to this case.

You get espionage, counterfeiting, a smidgen of romance all rolled into one cracking read.

Am looking forward to the rest of the series.
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on 8 March 2018
Gripping Stuff - but not for the faint-hearted or squeamish. Moves along at a cracking pace. Short, punchy sentences and highly visual description. Jack Reacher is almost a "DC Comics" type super-hero who finds himself in the most extreme and challenging situations. Although Lee Child is English, he is completely immersed in the argot of American crime culture, writing like a native. There is, as usual a love interest, which is a bit dated these days of gender equality - but, hey - it's good stuff and un-put-downable!
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on 24 March 2015
I've read 19 Jack Reacher novels. That's all of them. Peruse the Amazon review sections of any of the Lee Child novels and you'll learn that this is not impressive. But I read them in a row, and the effects were profound. I professed to understand why a police officer might shoot a suspect six times without asking a single question. I became so involved in Reacher's universe that I would look for the 12 signs that someone was a suicide bomber. Rarely does a book or books spill into my world in this fashion.

I've seen this before, but not in novels. Play any of the games from the Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise for a prolonged period of time and, afterwards, when you've put down the controller, switched off your machines and ventured outside, you will check your corners, judge distances and take stock of what's in your pockets. No enemies lurk, waiting to slit your throat, but your brain can't tell the difference, and that's what the Reacher books did to me.

Now, in this age of short attention spans, there is no room to review all 19 novels. They invariably follow the same formula (a boon and a curse, as I'll explain), with Reacher, once a decorated Military Police major, wandering the United States of America with nothing but a foldable toothbrush (yes, I bought one of these, too), an expired passport and a wad of used notes in his pockets. He buys new clothes every few days so he doesn't have to bother with luggage and frequents public transport so he can do and see everything he didn't during his days spent serving his country.

The plots thicken in certain situations. Reacher will either sniff out, stumble into or be asked to take part in lots of juicy trouble. In the very first novel, Killing Floor, Reacher, following a tip from his brother about where jazz musician spent his life, decides to stop off in a small town for something to eat and a place to sleep. In another novel, an old army comrade deposits a sum of money into his bank account that corresponds to a Military Police code--quite possibly the only way anyone could get in touch with him, ever. All 19 novels use similar methods to drive the plot, and all manage to stay realistic enough to believe. The old `wrong place, wrong time' worked, or didn't work out, depending on your point of view, for John MaClane of Die Hard, and does so here many times. By his very nature, Reacher is curious and 99 percent moral outrage, so the reader can well believe he might get himself into 19 life threatening situations, instead of upping sticks and moving to somewhere hot, sunny and not in the USA.

But `formulaic' does spring to mind, often. Reacher, either through the third or first person (Child oddly employs both throughout the series), is witty, violent, mathematic and nigh-on indestructible--a great protagonist. Yet, he gets himself into mess after mess after mess, time and time again. Would a man really wonder the USA for a decade, as Reacher does? If we prefer instead to suspend disbelief and say `yes', would a man live this long? Reacher is cut, shot, blown up, drugged, arrested and beaten, and still he goes on investigating, when he's not rambling. The rambling is explained, often, but it is never resolved. He never seems to find what he's looking for, and that's frustrating for the reader, because this man deserves a happy ending.

Such is my only bugbear with the Reacher novels. They do get repetitive at times, particularly when Child regurgitates, penguin-style, whole passages of text to feed new readers the necessary back-story, and Reacher's forays into Europe, mainly England from where the author hails, stink of the awkwardness naturally inherent in a foreigner describing a foreign land from the ultimate perspective of a local, don't disturb what is downright good storytelling. Reacher is Rambo with a brain, and probably more brawn than Tom Cruise could ever muster.
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