Book Review: The Killing Floor, by Lee Child
After reviewing several of Lee Child’s novels featuring Jack Reacher, it seemed fitting to go back to the beginning. Especially since I personally recommend reading most series in order. In Jack’s case, it really isn’t necessary. A few of them may contain information that overlaps from the prior book, but not so much that it would affect your enjoyment.
Still I do suggest you read at least the first book in a series so you have the starting point and background. It works for Mr. Child’s series as well. Listening to the book, it is still surprising to think this was Lee Child’s first novel. What a wonderful start to a writing career.
In 1997, the book won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. You’ll be able to see why. His former career as a script writer may be one of the reasons he is so clever at writing exciting, descriptive scenes with very well placed dialogue.
The story is a complicated plot that involves savage murder, missing persons, corrupt officials, a little town controlled by a big business, and a dozen or more bad guys! There might end up more of them than good guys in this story.
First in the series: Introducing Jack Reacher
Jack, a former MP (military police) officer, is introduced to us right away. He’s only been out of the military six months or so, wandering wherever he chooses. After getting off a bus and walking several miles to reach the town of Margrave, Georgia, he’s just eating breakfast at the coffee shop when several policemen enter, guns drawn, to arrest him for murder. That was quick.
The story continues on at a fast pace. At first Jack knows he’ll be freed in a day or two, so he’s more curious than worried. As a former investigator he has insights that are of interest to the chief homicide detective. Nearly everyone else would be happy to convict him, guilty or not.
When the first murder turns out to be someone close to Reacher, it ignites his intent and his fury. The body count grows with another grisly murder. A man goes missing. The people who can help them are dying. Then they come after Jack himself. Even in this first book, you learn quickly that no one should do that. Jack is ever-capable, clever enough to out think most of them, and usually has a plan in place to defeat them.
The mysterious little town turns out to be hiding many secrets. Secrets involving corrupt cops, counterfeiting, and even tragedies from decades past. But something is happening right now. Something that has put the pressure on, leaving only days before a deadline. How do you stop something—something people are dying over–when you have no idea what or why?
Excellent on audio
Since it had been awhile since I read The Killing Floor I decided to listen to it to refresh my memory. I’m very glad I did. As usual, Dick Hill, the narrator, does an outstanding job of Jack and all the other players. He reads it so seamlessly I was halfway through it before I realized how well he was doing distinguishing the characters. It’s so good you don’t even notice. That is a good thing. Usually when you notice it is because you aren’t thrilled with the way a man does the female voices or a woman does the male voices or some other negative reaction.
If you enjoy an exciting suspense novel, this is a great one. It does contain violence, though when Jack begins reacting it somehow fits the scene. Some readers have objected to the detail Lee Child includes, but personally I think it adds to both Jack’s background and to the story. Mr. Childs won’t just mention a gun or a bullet, but will explain through Jack’s thought process, just why it is the right or wrong choice. He is very good at showing you the reason for his characters action and reaction.
It was such a good book in my opinion that I’ve now read most of the series. You come to feel like you are traveling along with Jack, sitting beside him on that bus, getting in and out or trouble with him, and loving every minute of it.