Book Reviews

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

This was my first Lee Child book. Crime and thriller are my two favorite genres. Since this book fits in to both, I decided to pick it up from my lending library.

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The book cover

The book cover has an image that looks just like a small town such as the one in the book (Margrave, Georgia) would, with a scattered number of cars on the road, a dull feel to the whole setting. The image is taken from Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Jack Reacher is an ex-serviceman who travels throughout the United States. He has no permanent address. One day, he gets off a bus at a small town called Margrave in Georgia based on a split second decision to visit a dead guitar player’s grave. On the same day, Margrave’s first homicide in 30 years occurs. Since he is a drifter, the town police suspect him and he is thrown in jail. As a slew of bodies arise, Reacher is found to be not guilty. Why he stays back in Margrave and what he does to rectify the situation there cover the rest of the book.

Overall, Killing Floor was a very entertaining read. Within the first few pages, I noticed that the narration was a little off. It seemed like the author had a strict “equal to or less than 8 words” policy for every sentence in this book. It was a tad annoying in the beginning (USE THOSE COMMAS, PEOPLE!). Since the book is very plot driven, the intriguing sequence of events made the iffy sentence structure tolerable.

The characterization of Reacher, the protagonist, was well developed. The ex-military toughness and the smarts will certainly make the reader fall in love with him. He can toe the line between heroism and criminality, he can bulldoze the line and light it on fire- the reader will still like him. I believe that is where the book’s strong suit lies.

The supporting characters did not feel as well developed as Reacher. They were okay, but they were just..there. At times, I felt like they were being portrayed as slow to pick up on things just to play up Reacher. (Backed it up with this little spoiler)

SPOILER ALERT! (Please skip the next paragraph alone if you haven’t read the book.)

For example, Roscoe points out that there is a pyramid system of fingerprint classification, where the unknown fingerprint is first checked against the FBI’s top 10 list, then the top 100, then the top 1000, all the way down. She states that she understands why Reacher’s prints take a long time to get matched. It proves his innocence. If she was able to notice that some vagrant who had wandered in to her small-dot-on-the-map town was innocent because of the time taken for matching, why did she not notice that Joe’s prints came back as “not in the system” within a few hours itself? Instead, we get a page full of explanation from Reacher to Roscoe about the scan not being done properly. Seriously, woman, this your job. Why do you screw it up? Even Finlay, with his 20 years of experience in Boston, needs things slowly explained to him by Reacher. All this to aid in making Reacher seem more heroic and smarter.

It would have been better if the supporting characters didn’t stumble so much. Smart supporting characters with a strong hero would have raised the book to a higher level.

The description of Margrave as a small town with pristine store fronts and attractive homes was described well. It really did feel like one of those small towns where nothing happens. The author, through his weird eight-word sentences, painted a good picture of the town. Reacher’s travels to Macon, New York, and Atlanta were also described neatly.

The bad guys are revealed half way through the book. What exactly they do and how they do it are slowly revealed over the course of the story. This was handled beautifully. There was a flow to the protagonist reasoning everything out through each chapter.

There were a few things that weren’t agreeable in relation to the portrayal of supporting characters. However, the excellent plot, the action movie type story line, and the premium ex-military beefcake of a hero will most definitely make me devour the next Jack Reacher thriller as quickly as I did with this one.

Rating- 3.5 out of 5

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