Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Killing Floor" by Lee Child (Jack Reacher #1)

Published: 1997
Read: 2011
Genre: Fiction - Hard boiled detective
Rating: 3
Reviews: Goodreads
Author web site

Another library book that I picked up based on a recommendation from my sister-in-law.  A very quick read that did not disappoint.

The narrator is Jack Reacher, an ex-military cop who is wrongfully charged with a brutal homicide in a small town in Georgia.  He happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but as it turns out, it is good for the US economy that despite being homeless, jobless and a self described vagrant, he wandered into Margrave, GA when he did.

Because this is told in the first person, we are privy to all his observations, thoughts and reasons why he reacts one way, and not another.  Very interesting.

We may not think very much of a military cop but are cautioned against underestimating them.
A military policeman deals with military lawbreakers.  Those lawbreakers are service guys.  Highly trained in weapons, sabotage, unarmed combat.  Rangers, Green Berets, Marines.  Not just killers.  Trained killers.  Extremely well trained, at huge public expense. So the military policeman is trained even better.  Better with weapons.  Better unarmed (53). 
Reacher is one such military cop - to the nth degree.  This is good because the bad guys are really bad - sadistic, malevolent and evil.  The torture scene of a married couple is one of the most gruesome ever.  Anyone other than Reacher and his special skills would not stand a chance.  In this quote, he examines his feelings after ruthlessly killing one man and blinding another:
But I didn't feel much at all.  Nothing, in fact.  No guilt, no remorse.  None at all.  I felt like I'd chased two roaches around that bathroom and stomped on them.  But at least a roach is a rational, reasonable, evolved sort of a creature.  Those Aryans in that bathroom had been worse than vermin.  I'd kicked one of them in the throat and he had suffocated on his smashed larynx.  Well, tough shit.  He started it, right? Attacking me was like pushing open a forbidden door.  What waited on the other side was his problem.  His risk.  If he didn't like it, he shouldn't have pushed open the damn door.  I shrugged and forgot about it (118). 
My heart felt like it stopped beating when reading this explanation from the coroner to Jack. It made me think of the fateful morning when I found Josh, our beloved son, dead.
Postmortem hypostasis.  Lividity.  When you die, your circulation stops, right?  Heart isn't beating anymore.  Your blood obeys the law of gravity. It settles to the bottom of your body, into the lowest available vessels, usually into the tiny capillaries in the skin next to the floor or whatever you've fallen down onto.  The red cells settle first.  They stain the skin red.  Then they clot, so the stain is fixed, like a photograph.  After a few hours, the stains are permanent.
In Reacher, I see a combination of several famous detective protagonists. He is highly observant and surprises many with uncanny deductions, similar to Sherlock Holmes.   He is violent, like Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade as depicted in the previous quote, but deferential to women in a Philip Marlowe way.  All three; Reacher, Spade and Marlowe are magnets for women.

Similar to Chandler's writing in The Big Sleep, Lee Child also uses interesting analogies.
This was a man who wallowed in the yuppie dream like a pig in shit (50).
She was going to come face to face with reality the same way a runaway truck comes face to face with the side of a building (205). 
What remain unanswered is why he is jobless and homeless.  I wonder if this will be disclosed as the series continues.  Only one way to find out.....

Takaways: Read next few books in the series:
  • Die Trying (#2)
  • Trip Wire (#3)
  • Running Blind (#4)
  • Echo Burning (#5)

No comments:

Post a Comment