Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book Reviews Reloaded: Killing Floor

This article first appeared on East Niagara Post on July 21, 2015. It is repeated here as I work to put all my book reviews in one place. They will be posted on Thursdays or Fridays and only be altered from the original in that I will add publisher information and pages. Hopefully, by revisiting these reviews, other people might find a book they'd like to pick up for their own enjoyment.

Killing Floor - Lee Child
Berkley Publishing
576 Pages

Most people know of Jack Reacher from the recent movie of the same name. Lee Child’s lead character dates all the way back to 1997 when the first book, Killing Floor, was published. If you’re interested in learning how Reacher got his start, away from the Tom Cruise rendition, this book just may the one for you.

Jack Reacher is a homeless, wayward drifter making his way through rural Georgia when he is arrested by local authorities for murder. Sent off to prison for holding over the weekend with another man who confessed to the crime, Reacher has an attempt made on his life. Is it to keep the truth hidden and use him as a scapegoat?

When the police chief comes to realize that Reacher is telling the truth about his innocence, he works with the vagabond to uncover the truth behind the dead bodies that start to pile up. Their investigation turns up dirty secrets lurking in all the shadows of the tiny Georgia town. It’s up to Reacher and his new friends to bring the real criminals to justice.

Jack Reacher grew up as a child of a military man, joining the military himself upon reaching age. Expecting a long career, his life is shaken to the core when he is downsized out of the Army. With his parents dead and only his brother left, he sets out for a life on the road, drifting from town to town.

This book is a thriller that keeps adding different nuances to weave together a plot that adds layers to Reacher’s investigation. There is no straightforward route to a easy-to-guess outcome with this book. The reader has to wait until nearly the end of the book to unravel the mystery.

Lee Child builds his character, revealing only small bits and pieces at a time. It is a technique by the author to keep this central character somewhat mysterious for a long series of novels. Child avoids shedding light on Reacher’s murky past just as his character avoided answering questions from peer characters in the narrative.

This thriller will keep the reader turning the pages. Several threads will pull you in different directions, finally coming together in a solution that upon reflection seems obvious. Child masks this through feints and false leads. Much like real life, not everything is handed out neatly organized and ready for conviction.

An interesting note between the book and movie -- as originally written, Reacher is 6’5” with dirty-blonde hair and blue eyes. Tom Cruise is only 5’7” with black hair. When I read books, I picture the action and all the characters as they’re described. It was a difficult acceptance of Cruise playing this character after finishing Killing Floor. Although this is not a movie review, I do have to say Cruise did an acceptable job of taking on the Jack Reacher persona.

The Jack Reacher universe will see it’s 20th book later this year with the release of Make Me. If you enjoyed the movie and want to delve deeper into the life and times of this character, start with Killing Floor and keep turning those pages. Lee Child writes an excellent thriller that hums with excitement.

Craig Bacon tries to be mysterious, but Facebook and Twitter have ruined any chance of that.