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Ex-military policeman and drifter Jack Reacher coasts into small-town Margrave, Ga., where he’s suddenly arrested for the murder of a man who turns out to be his brother, Joe. This sets off a heart-pounding investigation into the mysterious killer—and the subsequent larger criminal operation—that haunts this picture-perfect southern town. The gruff Reacher is the unassuming, brooding protagonist at the center of it all.

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Reflecting on how he developed Reacher’s character, Lee Child wrote that Reacher “slotted very neatly into the folk hero tradition, specifically the knight errant subgroup, which seems to be universal in appeal.” Child was, of course, completely right. Killing Floor was published in 1997 and became an instant hit, garnering countless awards, including the 1998 Anthony and Barry Awards for Best First Novel, and launched Child’s career as a successful commercial thriller author. The book is the twisty first entry in the New York Times best-selling Jack Reacher series, a global phenomenon with 28 installments, which has been translated into nearly 50 languages, and has been adapted for both television and film—the latter of which features Tom Cruise as Reacher. —Rachel Sonis

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