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Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Punch Me Up to the Gods" by Brian Broome
"One of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you— have ever read." —Augusten Burroughs Learn more
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Top reviews from the United States
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"It was as distinctive as the most distinctive thing you could ever think of" -literally made me cringe
"We high-fived, whooped and hollered" - Once is bad enough, but when this is used 4 and 5 times, with "high-ten" as the only variation, it leaves me scanning pages trying to skip beyond the sophomoric attempt at a written bromance and get back into the actual story.
My hope is, with this being an early novel, the writer has matured through subsequent releases. I will be moving on to the next novel still hoping for a "WOW" moment; let's hope it comes with fewer cringe-worthy passages.
Well, guess I’ve been wrong because “Killing Floor” grabbed me from the first page. Ex-Army Military Policeman Jack Reacher is 6 foot 6 inches of bad mamma-jama and yes he’s damaged goods, wandering through Georgia when he’s arrested in a diner for a murder which he’s not committed. The story rockets along at a blistering pace with plenty of action, twists and turns, and excitement for 529 pages. I’ve already bought the next two in the 21 (and counting) book series.
In the forward to this paperback edition Child tells the readers his objective when creating the Reacher character was to have someone who was pretty much indestructible- a guy who does not lose and vanquishes every bad guy he meets. He wanted someone different from the flawed and vulnerable heroes in other books and find themselves in mortal jeopardy at every turn and in Jack Reacher he succeeds. Knowing the hero isn’t going to fail does not lessen the suspense and it’s fun watching how Reacher takes down the scum. It’s kind of like satisfaction you get watching a Jason Bourne movie.
Top reviews from other countries
Killing Floor does present a less refined Reacher but also reminds us that some basic themes (town in the middle of nowhere, a secret, an attractive lady cop) started from book one.
For want of nothing better to do, Reacher stops off in a small town as a famous blues singer was reputed to have died there. Instead he finds himself arrested for murder and a town with too much money and a dirty secret. A personal element keeps Reacher there trying to find out what is going on while the body count mounts up. Reacher comes over as a dangerous man and a killer in this, not a man to cross and quite prepared to exist outside of the law. There are hints of the character he would develop into and also of the style that Lee Child would develop. This is a longish book at over 500 pages, so the abrupt style is not in place yet. The story works as do the twists and you can see why this series developed into something that has often been very special.
At first, I was mightily impressed. The hard-boiled prose spoke to me in a voice similar to Dashiell Hammett's, and the in-depth knowledge the writer possesses of his field really came to the fore. I think I enjoyed this book right until Reacher and Hubble come out of prison - those first passages, when nobody seems sure what's going on or who can be trusted, really worked well.
The problems began around that time, starting with a rather ridiculous plot device. Reacher, for whom nothing and nobody really seems to matter, discovers that the man whose murder he has been arrested for - SPOILER ALERT - is his brother. Now, the action all takes place in some tiny town in middle America, and Reacher only chose to stop off here at random during his peregrinations around the country; add to that the fact that the two brothers had barely spoken in years, and you have a particularly odd contrivance to work as motivation for what follows.
And then, the hard-boiled writing starts to work against Lee Child. It's not sufficient to support a book of this length. My favourite sentence in the whole book (and pretty much the reason I'm giving this two stars) came when Reacher takes his date out to dinner in a restaurant at the airport, and describes the place (or the food - I forget) with this: "It was OK." Thanks for that, Reacher/Child. Whole sections of the book could have been skipped if this is the language we're going to be treated to.
I'm not sure if I'd want to read another Reacher book after this one. I was entertained, more or less, as I read, but not to the extent that I would want to accompany Reacher on another of his adventures. I get the feeling that this is the prototype, and anything that follows will be something of a rehash - which might be an unfair analysis, but since I haven't read everything of Penelope Fitzgerald's or EM Forster's, I might prefer to invest my time there.
The books starts well. Reacher arrives in a small town in the middle of nowhere after walking in the rain for several hours and is eating breakfast in a diner. The police enter and he is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. Hauled off to the local police station he is thrown into a cell and the accusations begin to pile up against him. Eventually he is taken to the local prison for the weekend, but there appears to be a mix-up and he is placed in the lifers' wing, and from then on things really start to look bleak.
It's a page turner, but personally I thought it was way, way too long, probably by 200 pages or so, and the whole book is utterly unbelievable but remains strangely enjoyable. Having read two Reacher books now my suspicion is that they all follow the same template, as both of the ones I've read have had very similar story arcs, but I've got a few in my pile still to be read so I'll reserve judgement until I've worked my way through those.
I first came across him being interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC's Hardtalk. He was making a lot of sense about his role as an author whose duty is to serve his readers what they want. And so I decided to read his first book.
The short sentences take some time to get used to but you soon get into the rhythm. Jack Reacher is an interesting hero and Child has a very observant eye for detail in small town America. Combine this with a good action plot with a lot of twists and turns and you have a book that is a real page turner.
I finished this very quickly and was straight onto the second one - Die Trying - about a white separatist group in Montana. Again unputdownable! Will now take a break, and then onto no. 3 - Tripwire.