Friday, September 5, 2008

Lee Child: Killing Floor

Lee Child wrote the Jack Reacher novels in a way that it does not matter what order you read them in. At least that’s what his web site says. And I mostly agree. But after reading several, I still had some questions about Reacher’s background – why he lives the way he does. So I picked up a copy of Killing Floor – it seemed to have the oldest copyright date.

I did learn more about Reacher’s past, and I appreciate that. And I was sort of right about it being the first Jack Reacher novel. But I now realize that there is a prequel, The Enemy, written a few years later. I may have to pick it up some time, because I’m still curious about some of Reacher’s back story. I am tempted to say what was still unanswered, but in a way that could be a spoiler for Killing Floor.

If you don’t know, Jack Reacher is a loner who travels around the country by bus, hitchhike, or foot. He deals only in cash, owns nothing that he isn’t currently wearing or carrying in his pockets. In short he is a pretty independent character. He is also a pretty competent, resourceful former-MP.

Killing Floor starts with Reacher walking into Margrave, Georgia. Before he can even finish his breakfast, four police officers come in to the diner and arrest him for murder. Margrave is a small town somewhere between Atlanta and Macon. But it is a remarkably clean and prosperous looking town.

We meet a competent police sergeant named Baker, a Boston raised black chief of Detectives named Finlay, an attractive police officer named Roscoe, and a fat worthless Police Chief named Morrison. We also meet a prominent town benefactor, the mayor, an Atlanta banker, and miscellaneous other characters.

It’s hard for me to say too much about the story because after about five pages things start to surprise both Reacher and me. I can say that it is a fast paced action story, as you would expect. A lot of people end up dead. To some degree Reacher did not seem quite as well developed to me as he does in later stories – perhaps because this was the first.

I can’t say that Killing Floor is any better than any other Reacher novel. In fact it probably is not my favorite. But then neither is it significantly worse than any other. I still want more of the history, hopefully from The Enemy, but I think I better wait a while. I suspect that I could burn out if I take too much Reacher too fast.

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