Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1)
2010 (originally 1997), 525p
Read from my local library
Jack Reacher is 6 months out after 15 years in the military, his last stint being as a military cop. Budget cuts meant that he and a bunch of others received their discharges and ever since, Reacher has been travelling. He has no fixed abode, no drivers license, no form of photo ID. He travels using buses and trains, ways in which he can pay in cash and leaving no paper trail. He stays in cheap hotels under fake names.
On a whim, he exits a Greyhound bus in Georgia and walks the 14 miles into town. He is breakfasting at a small diner when local police, some brandishing shotguns, all come to arrest him. Charged with the first homicide in the town for over thirty years, simply for being new in town, Reacher is thrown in jail. When a phone number is found on a slip of paper inside the dead man’s shoe, it turns out to be that of local man Paul Hubble, a banker and he is arrested too. Because the police station lacks the facilities to keep prisoner’s overnight and it’s going to take them time to establish Reacher’s alibi, they are shipped out to a local correctional facility to be kept for the weekend. Hubble begins to talk, but Reacher doesn’t want to listen, although his interest is somewhat piqued when he realises that someone has tried to arrange for the death of one of them in jail. But it isn’t until Reacher is released and the identity of the dead body discovered that he gets real interested.
The bodies are piling up and Hubble has disappeared, presumably dead too. But he’s given Reacher a little information and armed with that and the intelligence of two of the best cops in the small town, Reacher begins his own investigation.They don’t know it yet but the people behind this little crime definitely picked the wrong guy to mess with. And they’re going to find that out.
Killing Floor is the first novel in the popular Jack Reacher series and I’ll be honest – I was pretty ignorant about this entire series until there was whisper of Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher in a movie adaptation and a million people on the internet lost their collective shit. “Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher!” they shouted in disgust. “He jumps on couches on Oprah and is a high up member of some weird religious cult. He might be badass and do his own stunts in Mission: Impossible but he’s still a midget with black hair.”
Having read only one of the 17 currently published Jack Reacher novels, it’s not hard to see where their ire comes from. Reacher is an impressive physical specimen (6’5, 200+lbs) with light hair and a relatively taciturn manner. He says little, what he chooses to say usually encouraging others to speak. Tom Cruise might be a bit of a tool, but to me he’s always going to be that boy next door with the overly-cocky grin. I just don’t find him intimidating at all, nor do I find it remotely believable that he’d be able to put a guy in hospital for 12wks with a headbutt and strangle another one with his bare hands. But anyway, that little rant over, on to the book.
Jack Reacher is a drifter, a former military man who was supposed to be a scapegoat in the small Georgian town. Unfortunately for those in charge, they picked the wrong person to mess with and not only does Jack have a solid alibi, he has some mad skills and a desire for vengeance fueling him too, in his quest to discover just what is going on in this Stepford-esque town. Luckily he has a a few other things on his side as well: someone who wants him to find out what happened to their husband, a female police officer willing to offer resources and a bed and a black male detective who got a job he shouldn’t have and wants to find out exactly what the heck is going on. Oh, and he’s got a big ass gun and a jaded outlook.
I know these books are popular, but I don’t think I expected to enjoy this as much as I did. I found Reacher interesting and I always wanted to know that little bit more about him every time I learned something (and I didn’t learn much, really). Yes the book is kind of ridiculous, it’s full of people doing things they shouldn’t be doing, investigating things they shouldn’t be (Reacher is just some unemployed random and he murders his way through this book like there’s no tomorrow) but there’s something definitely enjoyable about it. Reacher does leap to grand conclusions at times, I still don’t know how he figured out where someone was at the end of the book and he puts other things together even quicker then the detective with 20 years experience, but you’re not really supposed to hold them up against real life. They’re fun, escapism, sort of like the Clive Cussler books, of which I read one recently, or the Matthew Reilly books. I’ve heard that the books get even better as they go along, which bodes well for me because I liked this one a lot. I didn’t actually pick what was going on, what was the conspiracy behind everything and the way in which it was done struck me as clever and well done. I’ve requested the second novel from my library and I’m actually excited to continue on with the series. The good thing is that everyone wants a piece of them now with the movie piquing people’s interest again so I’m 5th in line which gives me some time to read other novels and not go out and gorge myself on this entire series, which I have been known to do.
Despite my reservations about Cruise being cast, I’m interested to see the film, but only after I’ve read the book. For some reason they’ve chosen to adapt a book from around the middle of the series (around the ninth I think?). I am interested to see if the books hold up as stand alone or if it really is best to read them in order. Because I don’t anticipate getting through more than probably one book a month, it’ll be a while before I ever see the movie.
To be honest, I prefer books anyway.
Book #22 of 2013
Killing Floor counts towards my participation in the 2013 Literary Exploration Challenge, to read books from 36 different genres. I’m using this one to tick off the “hard-boiled” category. It’s the 4th book read for the challenge so far.