Overall Impression: Chilling, compelling and clever, but also with a number of flaws I found difficult to overlook.
A friend of mine recommended this book to me for the thriller category of the Eclectic Reader Challenge I’m taking part in, and consequently very kindly lent me the book. This will be the second book I have read for this challenge. If you want to find out more or participate in the challenge yourself you can check out the original creator at Book’d Out or you can visit my post here. 🙂
I will admit straight away that I am not the biggest fan of thriller/crime type books. Not only because of the annoying stereotypes found in them but also because they rarely manage to capture my attention from start to finish. I often find my mind drifting when I reach the middle point. However, the whole point of the Eclectic Reader Challenge is to read outside of your comfort zone, “and who knows” I thought, “maybe I’ll even enjoy it!”
Killing Floor is the first book in the phenomenal bestselling Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. It introduces Reacher for the first time, as the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode. Trained to think fast and act faster, he is the perfect action hero for men and women alike.
Margrave is a no-account little town in Georgia. Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles in the rain to reach it, an arbitrary detour in search of a dead guitar player.
But Margrave has just had its first homicide in thirty years. And Reacher is the only stranger in town. So he is thrown into jail. As the body count mounts, only one thing is for sure: they picked the wrong guy to take the fall.
I won’t expand on the blurb of this book any further, due to it’s genre of thriller/crime it is best to let the book unravel at it’s own pace when you read it.
I must admit, I found it very difficult to get into this book at first, and the main reason for that was the writing style. Lee Child’s technique is to consistently use short sentences, and the dude totally has commaritus! (excessive use of comma’s in Becky language.) I just found this so difficult to get on with. I was trying to get a grip of the story, the setting, and the personality of the main character and I felt like it ruined the flow. It kept stopping and starting. Take the first few lines for example:
“ I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town. The diner was small, but bright and clean. Brand new, built to resemble a converted railroad car. ”
The entire book continues with this style. I understand that use of short sentences often helps to build tension or to speed up the pace of a scene but I just felt his use of it was excessive. However my opinion is down to personal taste, and I’m sure others may enjoy this style, especially since the author has been praised by Stephen King. In spite of this major flaw, there were still aspects of his writing I enjoyed. I found it witty, realistic and very well paced in terms of revealing plot.
I was impressed with the storyline of Killing Floor. Unlike many other thriller/crime books it managed to capture my attention for the majority of the story. It did start to slow down a bit towards the end, but luckily picked up again for the grand finale. I also love the way Lee lets his plot skillfully unravel . Each time the characters got excited by figuring out one of the pieces in the complex puzzle of murders, I was swept up in the excitement with them, turning each page faster than the one before.
I also appreciated the fact that Lee Child had thoroughly researched his topic. There was nothing vague about this book, he knew everything varying from bullet trajectories to the number of $ found in America.
However there was to me, one large hole in the plot. I’m sure that many others could argue Lee’s case but I found it slightly unrealistic that the leading characters were sneaking around right underneath the enemy’s nose, in a place that there would surely have been CCTV cameras. It just didn’t make sense to me.
It was the characters however, that I was the most disappointed with. Knowing that Lee Child was both a famous and popular author, I was hoping he might have put a much more original spin on his characters. But unfortunately this wasn’t the case, and I’m afraid this is when I start to lose interest in the crime/thriller genre. The lead was ridiculously stereotypically masculine. I know I usually go on quite a lot about female representation in books, but male representation is just as important. An ex military soldier, with a stiff upper lip and all the right answers wasn’t a terribly complex character to me. (Although maybe Lee will develop his personality further in the subsequent books) There was also no doubt at any point in the book that he would get out of the situation alive. In many books you know that the main character cannot possibly be killed off e.g. Harry in Harry Potter, yet at many points in the book you still fear for their life. But this just didn’t happen with the lead character Jack Reacher.
The biggest issue I had with this book though, was the character of Roscoe, Jack Reacher’s love interest. We’re constantly told throughout the book how strong, and competent she is, and the author tries to push this idea throughout the book. However her actions speak otherwise. Her only purpose in the book is for sex and to be a victim. And even though she is a detective, all of the puzzle pieces are worked out by Reacher and another male detective Finlay, and the only answer Roscoe does come up with, turns out to be wrong. I don’t think I would have minded as much if she had just been there as a character, but the fact that we are supposed to see her as a strong female when she clearly isn’t was kind of irritating.
Overall I enjoyed this book much more than I was expecting to, and I think others will enjoy it too as long as this is their style of book. (As it clearly isn’t mine haha.) But that being said, I’m certainly interested enough to continue giving the series a go to see where it is heading (especially since my friend has leant me the second book so I don’t have to pay for it mwuhuhhuu.)
I would ideally recommend this book to males in their 30s and 40s as I would generally gauge this as it’s intended demographic. However, that does not mean others won’t enjoy this book, especially those that are fans of the thriller genre. Due to a couple of chilling torture scenes as well as some potentially confusing economic aspects of the book I would suggest it for 16 year olds and upwards that are fans of the thriller genre and like the stereotypical ‘hero’ character that appears to be unstoppable and always gets the girl.
(To read my review of the next book in the Jack Reacher series, Die Trying, click here.)
Writing Style: 2/5
Character Development: 3/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes
Killing Floor book cover: http://nickswan.net/