I don’t know if my lazy, forgetful ass will get around to doing the occasional book review, but if it does, I’ve started off correctly numbered. Actually, this blogging thing is cutting into my reading time. Here it is, the first week of March, and I’ve only read ten books so far this year. Sparklebumps did a post about some of the books she read last year. I didn’t keep a list, but I’ve started one for this year. If the blog and I are still around after New Years, I’ll give you a glimpse of the drivel I read.
With the release of a Jack Reacher movie, I became aware of the series of books. I decided that I’d like to start with book number one, and work my way up through the character development. The good Scottish lad could buy one at a bookstore – or just check to see what’s free at the library. There are several copies available, including a large-print version at the nearest branch. I put in a reservation for it. The large print is easier for the old eyes, and there are only 5 people ahead of me in line, instead of 27 for the paperback version.
After a bit over a month, I got notified that I could pick it up. I waited a day, till I finished a book the son took out, in a different series. I got the Reacher novel home and flipped to the end. This thing is a tome, 700 pages! Then I flipped to the front. Oh yeah, LARGE PRINT. Forgot that. There’s about four words to the page, no wonder I knocked off 165 pages the first evening. After two days of reading, it occurred to me that I should be thinking about reserving the next in the series. Another large-print version, but this one has 8 people waiting. I have a shelf of other books to keep me busy till it shows up.
The Author – Lee Child
The Book – Killing Floor
This is Child’s first book. I anticipate the quality will improve as the series develops. It’s an action/adventure story, mostly for men, quite similar to a couple of other series I’m reading.
The protagonist, Jack Reacher, is the accepted type of anti-hero currently popular. He’s been in the American Army for 13 years and lists almost that many base postings around the world. Perhaps he hasn’t fit in. He has received extra training, and been assigned as Army Policeman, bringing in the drunks and AWOLs and other bad guys.
Financial cuts have redundancy-ed him out of the Army with a severance package large enough to wander the U.S. for six months, seeing the sights and wondering what to do with the rest of his life.
The number of Maguffin coincidences Child uses to get him to the start of the story is considerable. He travelled down the Midwest, from Chicago to New Orleans. On a whim he decided to explore some of Florida. On another whim, he decided to visit Atlanta. A last-second, spur-of-the-moment decision had him persuade an Express-bus driver to let him out at an interstate exchange, so that he can research some Negro jazz-man, 60 years dead. He walked 14 miles to the small town, passing within 50 feet of two dead bodies, one of which he is immediately accused of killing, because he’s the stranger in town.
The Deus Ex Machina arrives a little early, when he finds that the stiff is his only brother, who he hasn’t seen or talked to in 7 years.
There’s an immediate love-interest, or is it just sex-interest? He won’t be staying. He’s in town two days, and already sleeping with the only female police officer, who gets him an illegal gun and access to restricted files.
Child describes the psychology of violence well, hit early, hit hard, live to hit another day. The fights are well presented, both physically, and within the social structure inside a prison.
While now emigrated, and safely ensconced in New York City, the author was born and raised in England, a country not known for its experience with, or exposure to firearms. He sadly fails the gun-nuts among his readers, by having a victim killed by being shot twice in the head by a .22 caliber handgun. He describes the slugs penetrating the skull, something these underpowered little shells often fail to do, and then graphically but incorrectly describes them “bursting from the other side, in an eruption of bone and brain.” I wait to see how much he learns about guns in future books.
While no Sherlock Holmes, Jack Reacher is shown to have the deductive ability be able to think through the alternatives, sometimes a little after the fact, but able to regain the initiative.
This is not War And Peace, or A Tale Of Two Cities, but it is a good solid story, capable of holding your interest. The plot is predictable, but with enough little quirks to lead you forward. The characters are well described, with their strengths and foibles. Suspension of disbelief is not difficult. Word usage is good, with very little vernacular. A few eight-dollar words are thrown in, but easily deciphered from context.
I would recommend this book for anyone with the time and interest in this genre. I hope that the second, and subsequent books, tighten up and flesh out a bit. This one is good entertainment without requiring too much deep thinking. If you put a bit in, and get a little extra out, it’s a bonus.