I finished Killing Floor by Lee Child. It was originally published in 1997 and it is the first of the Jack Reacher character novels by Child.
Synopsis from the back cover: Jack Reacher is an MP. He is also a drifter. He’s passing through Margrave, GA and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder.
The book is told from the first-person point of view. Due to this, the main character’s thoughts tell the story, more or less. And how do you expect an ex-MP to think? He thinks in short “incomplete” sentences most of the time. This is not too terrible, but it does get old. I am concerned that reading more of this character will get tedious. As a character, Reacher is pretty impressive. I have to keep telling myself that its possible for him to do what he does because he has lots of real-world experience. Also, and tellingly, it was hard for me to connect with the character – J. Reacher is a giant. Well over six-feet tall.
I think Lee Child is a Brit. And the flaw with his writing in this first novel (again, he gets mitigation for that), is that he writes like a Brit. The story takes place in the South. What was a Brit like Child thinking when he decided he was going to write a story taking place in the South? Unless you have lived in the South (SC, GA, AL, Miss., LA, etc.) for at least 3 years, you don’t know about it. Really. Its a different place. I have people from the North that have said a passport should be required to travel to the South. One clue that Child doesn’t have the best grasp? His characters say “right.” Its a very British thing, but noticeable. They don’t say y’all. None of them chewed tobacco. And Blue Laws didn’t effect any part of the story. Anyway, all the characters saying “right” actually annoyed me enough that I didn’t read the book for a day or two.
Child also has some sentences that make me feel like he needed an editor. If they are messed up sentences – heck, just leave ’em out! An example of this is in chapter 23: It was about as distinctive as the most distinctive thing you could ever think of. Child is describing an automobile. But seriously? There wasn’t a better way to make the point that the car stands out? Really?
Child does succeed at making an interesting plot. I like the overall big story, the little story isn’t fantastique. But the big story is interesting – and much different than a lot of other stories on similar topics. I was impressed with the answer to the “paper.” He doesn’t have too many characters and he handles the locations and timeline well. The writing just needed to be done better.