Lee Child is a British writer with a background in television. His first book in the Jack Reacher series is The Killing Floor, which came out in 1997. His series and the Reacher character are very popular. His sixteenth book The Affair explores the character’s life before he left the military, so there is no need to start at the beginning.
The Killing Floor begins with wanderer Jack Reacher, who is arrested in a small town in Georgia. Right off the bus he is accused of murder, but there is something very fishy about the town. It is a little too perfect. Reacher has just retired as a military cop, so he knows how to be patient until his alibi clears. He befriends two of the police and proceeds to clean up the town.
If you like vigilantes and violence doesn’t bother you, then this is your kind of book. I read Persuader, the seventh book in the series, first, before going back to the beginning and reached the same conclusion. The main character ends up killing more people than the bad guys, and he seems to be able to do it without any repercussions. It left me wondering what I was missing.
For the most part it is difficult for me to relate to his character, which is why I read a series. I found him a little flat. The information about the currency system was interesting. And the writing was fast-paced. I thought the African-American chief of detectives (Finlay) was a little slow for someone who had spent his career as a Boston detective.
It’s not just the violence. The first few books of the Barry Eisler series about a hit man in Japan were excellent. And although John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport is also violent, he has mellowed with age, and you enjoy bits of humor in the stories. He doesn’t take his character too seriously.
So, like many cozies on the other end of the spectrum, which I find manipulative in their busybody characters, I guess I find the violence and hard-core actions of this super hero also manipulative and hard to digest. But unlike the cozies, this book took a lot more talent and research to stitch together.
One big plus is Reacher is a Blues fan. The reason he comes to the town of Margrave is to find out more about an old blues singer. Anyone, fictional or real, who is a fan of the Blues, deserves kudos in my book. It just isn’t quite enough to get me to read another selection in the series, however.