The Killing Floor (Jack Reacher 1) by Lee Child: A Killer Debut

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Killing Floor, Lee Child’s debut Jack Reacher novel, strikes the reader like a well-wielded leather sap.

A few readers told me that my writing reminded them of a few of their favourite authors when they read Pandora’s Succession. I’ll admit that I had never heard of most of them, and one of them was Lee Child. There are many books that I want to read, and what’s unfortunate is that when you’re an author, sometimes it’s difficult to choose the right book. For me, the right book is one where I can learn from the author while being entertained. Killing Floor accomplished both.

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A while back, I read another Jack Reacher novel called 61 Hours. It was a fun read and the first book I read in the Jack Reacher series. I drifted away but was led back to the series after watching the two movies that starred Tom Cruise and by a friend’s recommendation. However, the Reacher TV show on Amazon Prime pushed me to read more of Lee Child’s books.

From the story’s beginning, I was hooked by the plot and Child’s tight writing style. It opens with Reacher inside a diner in a small town called Margrove. He’s former military police. Today, he wanders the country. He does not own property or a car and never carries any ID. This only complicates matters for him when the local police burst into and surround the diner to arrest Reacher for murder.

Written in a first-person perspective, the reader knows that Reacher is innocent. This hooks the reader because all that’s known is that Reacher arrived in town on foot after the Greyhound bus made an unscheduled stop just for him. He stops in Margrove’s only diner for breakfast, and before he’s finished eating, he has more shotguns aimed at him than mass murderer Timothy McVeigh.

NYT Bestselling Author Lee Child

Another aspect of the novel I enjoyed was Lee Child’s use of imagery and the description of Margrove. We know the town was once a thriving community that commuters between Atlanta and Florida had to pass through. When the interstate highways were built, it created a new and more time-efficient corridor. This was convenient for motorists but a massive inconvenience to the town. The interstate was not close to Margrove, thus isolating it and reducing the town to a dot on the map in the middle of nowhere. As Jack Reacher summarized, the interstate killed Margrove.

The description of Margrove and its townspeople creates a mysterious and suspenseful setting. This added to the realism of a story with a town with many secrets. The reader will feel the danger that Jack Reacher is in.

I was roughly five chapters into the story and ready to give it five stars. Killing Floor did not disappoint. The story had suspense, mystery, action, and romance. As many stories do, the story never dragged nor got bogged down with fluff. Lee Child kept his chapters tight, which made the novel an easy read. I love it when an author keeps me guessing to the point that it’s not easy to put the book down. Lee Child accomplished this.

The story strikes the reader like a sap to the back of the head. Once I was done, I was ready to read more about Jack Reacher’s adventures. Anyone who enjoys Killing Floor as much as I did will most likely do the same. I purchased the second novel in the Jack Reacher series, Die Trying, and will read it during my flight. Hopefully, after reading this, I’ll be jolted into writing my next Ridley Fox/Nita Parris thriller.

Russell Brooks is the author of four suspense thrillers. His fifth, Jam Run, will be released in spring 2023.

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