Saturday, October 2

Killing Floor - Lee Child

Former MP and army brat Jack Reacher's not long out of a down-sized military - after a lifetime of relentless travel nowhere feels like home, and being in one place to long makes him antsy. So Jack's taking it a day at a time, travelling as the mood takes him and stopping the same way. That's how he wound up in Margrave, a tiny town in the middle of Georgia - as the Greyhound he was on passed by he remembered his brother, Joe, telling him that legendary guitarist Blind Blake was rumoured to have died in Margrave and so Jack got off. He hadn't seen Joe in years, or heard from him for almost as long, but Jack remembered that.
What Jack didn't expect was to be embroiled, on his very first day in town, in a brutal murder that saw him in jail, that almost got him killed, that triggered a wave of violence through the apparently peaceful town, and that was committed to cover up a massive criminal enterprise.
Killing Floor is the first in what is now over a dozen Jack Reacher novels, and it's a worthy opening - the writing is arresting from the opening line - "I was arrested in Eno's diner." (I swear that when I typed that I had no thought of wordplay in mind). Child conveys a sense of purpose to this aimless-looking man, imbues him with strengths and weaknesses, and shows the reader how an experienced and intelligent cop can size up and manipulate virtually any situation.
I really liked the character of Jack, and although there was more of a crowd of secondary characters than usual, I thought they were fairly well drawn. I also liked the smaller mysteries (like what happened to Blind Blake) scattered through and tied into the larger narrative.
There are genuine moments of shock, chief among which is the identity of the initial murder victim, and while there was a little more reliance on coincidence than I'd like, that aspect's not flagrant and is used fairly judiciously. I was a little disappointed in to spots (the first when I guessed how the scam was bring run, and when I picked up a point that indicated there was an inside man), but overall enjoyed Jack's first foray. Having now read the series thoroughly out of order I'd have to say my enjoyment of the later ones wasn't in any way hampered by my nonconsecutive reading. - Alex

The Jack Reacher novels
Killing Floor; Die Trying; Tripwire; The Visitor; Echo Burning; Without Fail; Persuader;The Enemy; One Shot;The Hard Way; Bad Luck and Trouble; Nothing to Lose; Gone Tomorrow; 61 Hours; Worth Dying For

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