Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

Jack Reacher #1 Killing Floor by Lee ChildThis past summer I took a detour from some of my reading challenges to begin a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while–the Jack Reacher books. Eight years ago a friend of mine said Lee Child was the best selling author I had never heard of, and he was right–I had never heard of him. But eight years ago I bet a lot of other people had never heard of him, either. This was in 2009, before Tom Cruise starred in the 2012 movie Jack Reacher.

But shortly after learning about the series, I noticed the seventh book, Persuader, free for Kindle readers. I jumped at the chance to pick it up, even though it wasn’t the first book in the series. As you know if you’ve read any of the books, you don’t really need to read them in order. I enjoyed the book enough to want to read more, and this past summer was the perfect time. I wanted a quick diversionary read with lots of action, and Jack Reacher was just the sort of character I was craving.

I decided to start with the beginning of the series because, well, I’m kind of a linear person, and besides, I wanted to see his character develop just as Child wrote it. At the time I also wanted the feel of a paperback book in my hand. I love my Kindle Oasis reader, but this summer I really needed the feel of pages beneath my fingers. So I drove to our neighborhood used book store and picked up Killing Floor, the first Jack Reacher novel. And it was just what I needed: a quick, fast-paced thriller that kept my attention the whole time. Yes, it’s very violent, and yes, it stretches credibility, but yes, it’s very entertaining. At least it was for me. And judging by the number of Jack Reacher books on the top of the best seller lists, I’m not the only one.

One of my favorite things about this particular story was Reacher’s interest in blues music. He mentions several artists and songs, and in the hope that this continues in the other books, I’ve begun a list. For those interested, here are the blues musicians and songs mentioned in Killing Floor:

  • Reacher is look for stories of Blind Blake.
  • He hears an old Canned Heat song on the radio.
  • Reacher mentions how John Lee Hooker had bottle caps attached to the soles of his shoes so he could tap out the rhythm while he played.
  • Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” is playing on the radio.
  • Reacher says he doesn’t need a stereo because he has the best stereo in the world – his mind. He plays the following songs in his head during the course of the novel:
    • Smokestack Lightnin’” by Howlin’ Wolf
    • “Further On Up the Road” by both Bobby Bland and Wild Child Butler
    • “Ramblin’ on My Mind” – every version he knows

Longtime readers of this blog–are there any out there?–will remember that I love listening to music while I read, especially if it fits the story (see Music to Listen to While You Read Part I, Part II, and Part III). So I’ve already created a blues playlist to listen to for when I read more Jack Reacher.

Finally, I’ll end with the publisher’s summary of The Killing Floor, but really, all you need to know is that Jack Reacher is one tough guy who’s very good at kicking bad guys’ butts. He also tries very hard to be noble. In a way, he’s like a knight-errant of old, roaming around the country righting wrongs and saving civilization from certain destruction. But if you want a few particulars, here you go:

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

Killing Floor by Lee Child
First Edition New York: Putnam, 1997
Print length: 522 pages

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: