When it comes to thrillers, Lee Child has a special place. And he owes it to the character he created, Jack Reacher. In essence, Reacher is a former Marine who is built like a tank. He has no home and no permanent residence. He walks from place to place, asking for lifts. He buys clothes, wears them and throws them away and buys new ones. He does not even have a mobile phone. Minimal documentation. He prefers eating at McDonald’s and drinks lots of water. He does daily labour for money when he needs it. He evidently has no friends. No family.
Oh, and he cannot stand injustice.
Which is why he keeps getting into trouble. Standing up for the underdog and taking on overwhelming odds. And well, more often than not, he emerges victorious with a blend of brains and sheer muscle power. The Jack Reacher series of books have sold by the million worldwide and some of the character’s lines have become legendary. None more so perhaps than “I’m a man with a rule. People leave me alone, I leave them alone. If they don’t, I don’t.” There were even films made based on the character with Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher and as this is being written, a TV series is in the works as well.
Killing Floor is where the series started. And we still think that the early books of the series were the best. Simply because they captured the Lone Ranger essence of Reacher. One man standing up for what is right, in a twisted, corrupt world. Killing Floor is Reacher at his best, it begins with him being arrested because he has walked fourteen miles into a small town which has just seen its first murder in years. Reacher is the outsider and is arrested for no other reason than being one. The fact that he does not feel intimidated, has no papers, no permanent address and no vocation only strengthen the case against him in the eyes of the local police.
It is a riveting read and what makes it special is that unlike the books that came later in the series, The Killing Floor is narrated in first person. Yes, this is Jack Reacher telling you his story in his own words. Some of the action might seem a little over the top, but honestly, we think you will be too busy reading to notice. Some of Child’s later work is predictable and a little dull, but in Killing Floor, he is at his narrative best. This is a crisp quick read and the sort of 500 page book that people finish in days.
Reacher might conform a bit too much to the macho he man stereotype. But credit to Lee Child, he often pulls it off. And never more so in Killing Floor. It is fast, fluid and backed with events. An out and out entertainer, for those who love their detection flavoured with action and dry humour. You may not love Jack Reacher. But you have to read him once at least.