Dec 29 2019

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

I read a lot of mystery novels, by happy coincidence of them being a) one of my favorite types of books and b) the primary subject of the website I work for. As such, you’d think I’d have read any of Lee Child’s bestselling Jack Reacher books already. A phenomenon pretty much since they were first published in the late 1990s, they number in their twenties now and have won a ton of awards in addition to raking in the big bucks for their author. Tom Cruise has already made two movies out of the series, for goodness’ sake! But I honestly only got around to looking for a copy when The Guardian did a feature story on why the grandes dames of literature (and quite a few sieurs) so lurve these books. After reading Killing Floor, I can understand why.

First, I’ll say that the conspiracy at the heart of the novel, and particularly the question that so stumped the experts, was one big duh for me. But everything else! From the identity of the first dead guy to the identity of the tenth man in the conspiracy, I was genuinely thrown for a loop, so well paced was the story! I enjoyed everything from Reacher himself to his supporting cast to the mystery and violent thrills throughout. I genuinely did not expect Reacher and Hubble to develop the relationship they do, and the part where Reacher finds out what happened to Blind Blake was especially moving. Even that bittersweet ending was so thoughtful and respectful, both of Reacher’s and of Roscoe’s needs.

I don’t know if I’ll make a point of picking up the other books, but I can absolutely see the (feminist) appeal of these modern-day Westerns, and could definitely do worse than reading the next when I have a bit of free time. If only I had that free time to spend! One quibble: I was surprised originally to read that Mr Child is British given that Reacher is an ex-military American drifter, but after reading Killing Floor could absolutely tell. Which isn’t at all a bad thing. Having that one random “about” thrown in there felt like a touchstone to a cultural tradition I’m more at home in than the bleak Americana on display here otherwise. Most readers probably wouldn’t even notice, but it was nice to feel that sense of remove, a quiet acknowledgment of places outside of the occasionally stifling self-absorption of this glorious country.

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