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January 13th, 2012

4 of 52

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)Killing Floor by Lee Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(For those who have not read the book, there may be spoilers below, but since the book is the first of sixteen and is more than a decade old, I'm not being as careful about that as usual.)

I'm not sure the three-star ranking I've given this book is entirely honest.

On one level I enjoyed this book--the evidence of that being that I couldn't wait to get back to it, and was willing to stay up late or defer other things to read it. I enjoyed the level of fine detail, found the characterizations clear and engaging, and I thought the overall plot was well-executed, with just the right number of solid clues and red herrings.

It is an extremely violent book--not in the way that, say, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has an almost pornographic feel to the violence, but certainly the same thread of sadism and misogyny are present, and now add a truly impressive level of blood. Both villains and heroes end lives with a with precision and total lack of remorse. At one point one of the supporting heroes asks Jack Reacher, Child's protagonist (and, apparently, something of a cult figure now in crime-reader circles), how he feels about the people he has just killed. His response? "How do you feel when you spread roach powder?" Not cocky, not gleeful, just...flat. Even those things didn't bother me enough to drop the rating to three.

I think what bothered me was some holes you could drive a truck through. Really--on a highway in Georgia he fires off a Desert Eagle, kills two guys at the pump, his diversionary tactic results in a multi-car accident, from which he drives off in a Bentley, and 3 hours later drives back through the crime scene, now full of Troopers, and no one has noticed that A) the killer drove off in a Bentley, and B) that "There's the Bentley!"? Or that it isn't until 3/4 of the way through the book that Reacher seems to worry about leaving his finger prints, etc., even though by then he has racked up quite a body count.

I have one other quibble, but I don't think that's the book's fault--I figured out the "big reveal" about 20% in, because I'd seen it before. However, I suspect that's because someone ripped off Childs in the years since the book came out and I actually discovered it.

Above I mentioned that Jack NMI Reacher is something of a cult figure. I'm not sure I get it. But, I liked the book well-enough to read a couple more, especially since a series often doesn't really hit its stride until the 3rd or 4th book. Maybe, like potato chips, when it comes to Lee Child's novels, you can't eat just one.

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