Killing Floor by Lee Child
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"Money money makes the world go round..." - some song by LL Cool J
I shouldn't like this book, I really shouldn't. Jack Reacher is such a cliché character; American, save-the-day glorified yawn. BUT he is actually really likeable, in a sort of don't-wash-can't-wash sort of way. Personally I think Lee Child's shows a really deft hand at making what seems like a simple story complex and takes a generic character and makes them interesting. He didn't take the standard wise-cracking lead character, which seems inheritant in these type of thrillers - he made Jack Reacher more believable by making him 'human' - by making him seem like he has nothing to lose and will go to any lengths (aka Jack Bauer "24") to get what and where he needs to. Protect the people you care about and love, failing that, revenge seems to work just as well as any emotional cocktail. This is also fallible character creation, it makes for a archetypal character that isn't ever EVER going to get threatened or hurt (really). This (for me) destroys any belief the reader has of this guy walking through fire to get to his end goal - he'll get there without much trouble.
The jeist of the story has Jack Reacher (I did write Jack Bauer then, see, so comparable for me) travelling around the good old USA, a vagrant, ex-military type, tall (wear those platform shoes Tom Cruise). He finds himself travelling south, down to a small town called Margrave. Within hours he becomes embroiled in a murder case in this perfect little town. Hurled into the local police station, he thinks he has a clear cut alibi - until certain individuals start to make life difficult for Reacher. This seemed a bit weird to me, he seemed guilty before proven otherwise. Process of a just system, not in this case. Jack has to unravel himself from this case, but things become personal for him as more and more evidence comes to light. At least he didn't drop the soap in the prison shower room - well he might as well have.
That's the essence of the story. What I'm really hoping for, as a new reader to this series, is a over-arching story. What I'm not hoping for is individual stories that are just that. We're see.
Here's the real problem, Jack Reacher seems invulnerable, much like Jack Bauer. I never felt any real threat to his life. I've not served in the military, I'm actually the first not to in generations of my family. My understanding is your only as good as your training - from what I get from Reacher, he doesn't seem to conform to that ethos. He gets a few slaps, but other than that, he walks through guys like there nothing. That part, even though this is a story is unbelievable. I also found it difficult to fathom that Jack hooked up with the best looking woman in town (Roscoe) within a short space of time. This is a guy who has effectively been living rough for years. The women in the book are there ONLY to be rescued and throw about a bit of frenetic sex. I'm not the sort of guy who gets all riled up about equality in novels, but sheez one-dimensional characters are something you write when at school.
As for the writing style, it's basic. Nothing brilliant - the novel is word heavy in the sense of content, which is a good thing. Lee Child's is great with descriptive narrative, not so great with character development. Characters names are all handled using their surnames 'Finlay, Roscoe, Picard etc etc'. So this makes them less personable and in a sense less believable.
Killing Floor has it's good and bad points. I like it as I do like this sort of anti-hero persona, but I also disliked it for the lazy character development (among other things). I'm sure this will appeal to people, given the lengths Jack Reacher goes, very comparable to Jack Bauer in that sense. What else can I tell you? Lot's, but I'm going to tear into this novel and then the review is going to lose any balance to it. So that's a wrap!
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