“Killing Floor” is the first novel in what is now 25+ books in the very successful series featuring Jack Reacher. If you have read, or plan to read, a lot of these books, this first book might be even better if you read “The Affair”, the sixteenth book in the series, a prequel, set six months before his first novel. It will add depth to the Reacher character who just seems to find himself in once coincidence after another in book one.
The Killing Floor starts after Reacher has spent his entire life in the military serving all over the world. He is thirty-six, six months into civilian life after being been honorably discharged, with no ties to anyone or anywhere, traveling aimlessly around the country.
Reacher finds himself in Margrave, Georgia, where he gets off a bus making a last-minute decision about even going to this town, and walks into town, goes into a diner to have breakfast and is immediately arrested for murder. Reacher finds himself in the town jail with a local banker but are both taken to the area prison to sit out the weekend. The are told they will be on the 6th floor where weekenders from town are held but they are taken to the 3rd floor and left for the night by mistake.
The next morning, they are both approached by violent prisoners’ intent on killing them. This is only the first experience on Killing Floors in this story but thanks to Reacher they remain alive and the obvious plot does not work. Both men are released a day early.
Finlay and Roscoe, an attractive lady officer from the police department, had worked hard to verify Reacher’s alibi and cleared him but they also learned that one of the men he was accused of murdering was his own brother who was working undercover for the Treasury Department in the area. Reacher can see that these two, and a friend at the FBI, are the only ones he can trust. He moves in, of course, with Roscoe and is determined to find out what happened to his brother.
The town is the center of a huge Treasury Department investigation with lots of secrecy surrounding everything. Margrave is a town on a payroll with manicured lawns, successful businesses with no customers and everything polished and perfect: they all seem to be in on something.
They learn that counterfeiting is involved and that a deadline for something big is coming in a few days. Reacher and his new friends uncover a huge-scale criminal operation. The bad guys don’t tolerate mistakes and they brutally kill those they can’t trust who cross them.
Reacher and Finlay eventually solve the mystery.
Lee Child’s Reacher character is presented as very strong, professional, a good guy who is patient and cautious: he has no hesitation about killing the bad guys. The story is, like the town of Margrave, a little too neat. If this is really the first book you read about Jack Reacher it may be a while before you really get hooked on this series, but it will happen.
“No, I'm a man with a rule. People leave me alone, I leave them alone. If they don't, I don't.”
“A person less fortunate than yourself deserves the best you can give. Because of duty, and honor, and service. You understand those words? You should do your job right, and you should do it well, simply because you can, without looking for notice or reward.”
“I'm a rich man. To have everything you need is the definition of affluence.”
“I'm not afraid of death. Death's afraid of me.”