Friday, May 29, 2015

Killing Floor

I had heard some rumblings about a series of books by author Lee Child centering on a character named Jack Reacher. In fact, over the years, Child has released 20 books in this series. Given that I like a good action - adventure romp, I decided to dive in, starting at the beginning with the title Killing Floor. Jack Reacher is an ex-army MP officer who served 20 years and was discharged. He is a big, brooding sort of man who never for a moment even considered what would happen after his military career ended. So, Reacher has chosen to wander around America to find himself. Reacher is a man of few words, but deep in knowledge and able to use it in a pinch. He is not easily cowed or sent into a panic even when he seems to be in the most danger. His character falls into the Rambo mold, but mixed in with a pinch of MacGuyver and a dash of Columbo.

In this novel, Reacher is taking a bus from Florida with his only intent to head north. On a whim, he gets off the bus on the outskirts of Margrave, a small Georgia town. His brother had told him that an old blues singer that he liked had once spent some time there. Just a short while after getting off the bus, Reacher is dragged off to jail by the local police as a suspect in a recent grisly murder. Reacher is locked up in the nearby prison for the weekend while the police decide whether he is to be charged. Reacher is nearly killed and he reasons that he was set up. When he is returned to Margrave, Reacher bonds with the new police detective who seems to be an honest and reasonable man. Together they come to learn of some mighty strange happenings involving a major counterfeiting operating in the sleepy and wholly corrupt town of Margrave.

The novel itself was a bit of a tough slog for me. The narrative was completely implausible, contrived, based on impossible levels of coincidence, and absolutely paper thin. Each and every one of the characters was not much more than a limp caricature, and what passed for dialog was most often stilted and trite. However, given that the series has proven so long-lasting and popular, and given that this was the first novel by Child, I can only think that he had to have matured as writer. Based on this, I have decided to stay hopeful as I move onto the second novel in the series, Die Trying.