Pros: Great main character, interesting story
Cons: Nothing major
Killing Floor is the first novel in author Lee Child’s long running Jack Reacher series. It reads like an 80’s action movie, complete with comical one-liners and a cheesy love story, but the action is good and the story is interesting. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series and am looking forward to reading more.
Jack Reacher, much like John Rambo, is a man with a rough past. He’s a former soldier with a brilliant analytical mind and enough training to take down most any opponent in a fight. After getting out of the service, he goes on a sort of walkabout and winds up in a small town where a murder has taken place. Reacher soon finds himself at odds with the local law enforcement and is accused of the killing, then sent off to prison with another guy who is also clearly innocent.
Once in jail, the reason for them being sent becomes obvious when a group of inmates try to kill them. The attacks come quickly and it seems that the local sheriff is up to no good and wants Reacher out of the way. It then becomes a matter of survival coupled with an investigation into what’s really going on. You can expect Reacher to kick a few teeth in along the way. Fortunately, the entire story does not take place inside a prison, otherwise I wouldn’t have read it.
I found the character of Jack Reacher instantly likable. He’s a combination of every uber macho fictional character from the past few decades, including Dirty Harry and Rambo. Most books and movies these days try to send up a more sensitive male hero, but this guy is a bulldozer and I love it. He gets put in a bad situation and does as good a job fighting his way out of it as he does in using his head to figure out what’s happening.
There is a bit of a love story here, but it’s mainly just so the main character can get laid. Sex and violence sells, you know. His flame is pretty much the only female main character in the story and she’s drop dead gorgeous and readily available, so that’s always convenient. They share a couple of goofy exchanges that count as pillow talk, but I attribute that all to the whole 80’s action movie feel I got from the story. This book was published in 1997.
In the end, I was quite pleased with Killing Floor. I didn’t know what to expect from the story but have heard a lot of good things about Jack Reacher. Another book from this series is currently being adapted into a movie with Tom Cruise playing Reacher. While he’s certainly not who I would have had in mind while reading this book, I’m sure it’ll be fun to see him played out on screen.