on June 22, 2005
I'm new to the Jack Reacher series but I have to say that I enjoyed this first book. I was interested in reading what other reviewers had to say: Author was charged with using the word "shrugged" too much. I never noticed, I was busy turning the pages I guess. Author was charged with using short, choppy sentences. Is that a literary offense? Because if it is, it's time to take Hemingway's work out and burn it, he having been critically lauded for years for that short, choppy style which is supposed to be very manly -- in a literary sense, I suppose. All I know is that I find old Hem's work mindnumbingly dull. At least Mr. Child keeps me awake, those choppy sentences lend a sense of urgency to the story. (Just like Earl Emerson's short chapters in 'Pyro'!) Author is charged with not being an expert on America. Neither am I and I've spent 48 out of 50 years here. Oh, and one review bemoaned the fact that somehow the author failed to realize the US has no Marines stationed in Europe, that we have no naval base there. Hm, I don't keep up with the exact locations of all US bases but I spent two years at Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, and when I was there, the US had a naval base at Rota. Author is charged with having a written a very violent book. Well. There you have me. It IS violent. If violence disturbs you, what the heck are you doing reading books in this genre in the first place? There was a great honking picture of a bloody handprint on the cover of the paperback I bought -- I would have thought that was a (you'll excuse the pun) dead giveaway as to the nature of this book. Oh, almost forgot. The author is also charged with too much coincidence in the brother/killing plot point. Stranger things happen every day -- gee, Bush got elected twice. I think THAT's stretching coincidence!
Yes, Jack Reacher is an anti-hero. Yes, the books has some flaws (as most every book I've ever read does). But I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to seeing Reacher's character progression in the next book. Do I think he's the next Lucas Davenport? Nope, not unless he gets a stronger sense of humor and a lot more sexy. But Reacher is verrrry interesting!
OK, I'm done defending the book. Now, here's the bit that bothered me: A top gun in the Treasury Dept drops out of sight and the Feds don't swarm all over looking for him when his prints come across the computer? A second Treasury Dept worker is brutally murdered in an airport and (1) it's the busy airport at Atlanta and no one sees it??? and (2) the Feds don't follow up on this either? Still -- I was able to suspend my disbelief long enough to overlook these things, just because I wanted to see what Jack would do next.
on September 26, 2000
I started with "Running Blind," Lee Child's third book, and finished it off in record time to jump back online to see what else Lee Child had written. The hero, Jack Reacher, was a military brat growing up, a military career man until the army downsized, and then became a drifter by choice. He's a one-man swat team correcting injustice as it finds him. In "Killing Floor" he just happens to get off the bus near the intersection of a small town in Georgia and after wandering on foot into the town of Margrave he is immediately arrested for a brutal murder which he obviously did not commit. He digs his way through several mysteries at one time including the identity of the murdered man. The suspense never lets up; there is a girl (a cop) that he loves but leaves with good romance and dialogue throughout. The only problem I had with the hero is that he arrives without any luggage and only occasionaly needs to buy a new outfit of clothes as he thows away what he has on at the time. He gives new meaning to traveling light. I'm going to quit writing now and start reading the next book..."Die Trying" I hope to see more of Jack Reacher after I have caught up with the next two.
Wow, what a book! Lee Child has given us perhaps the most interesting and complex hero in some time. Jack Reacher is Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger rolled into one...but with much more personality and pizzazz! I'm only sorry it's taken me so long to read Mr. Child's book!
The story is a riveting one, focusing on Jack's involvement in a crime in a small town in Georgia. Boy, does he make a mistake in deciding to stop off in this little burg, just to find out about a blue singing legend named Blind Blake. But, what a story unfolds. The dialogue is brisk, economical, and very involving! Along with Jack, there are a ton of characters that are so remarkably fleshed out and described, you would think this was a true crime story!
There are scenes of nail-biting action; very graphic and disturbing scenes of violence; and amidst all this some really well-written scenes of sensitivity and poignancy. Jack's meeting with an old lady who once knew the old blues legend is outstanding in its emotional punch! Paul Hubble, the neurotic banker; Roscoe, the beautiful policewoman; Finlay, the chief of detectives; and the evil villains are some of the best written characters in recent mystery fiction.
What is so amazing about this book is the way Lee Child has not only woven a complex murder mystery, but also a chilling tale of greed, madness, and lost loves and lives.
This is an emotional, wrenching debut, and I cannot wait to start in on the rest of this series!
An outstanding piece of fiction!
Having already read three other Jack Reacher novels, I finally got around to reading "Killing Floor," the first in Lee Child's popular series. Here is the Jack Reacher that we know and love--macho wanderer, man of few words, quick with his fists, an expert at weaponry, fearless and unforgiving.
Jack is passing through Margrave, Georgia. It is a town that is surprising clean and well-kept, considering that most of the residents have little visible source of income. Jack intends to stay for a brief period to look up some history about a blind musician, and then he intends to move on. However, Jack is arrested for a vicious crime that he did not commit, and he then becomes embroiled in a murder investigation that involves his brother.
It turns out that Margrave is a corrupt town, rotten to the core. With the help of a few good police officers (one of whom makes for a sexy love interest), Reacher gets to the heart of an extremely profitable criminal operation run by some very ruthless and powerful men. "Killing Floor" is a fast-moving, engrossing and extremely violent thriller. Reacher is quick-witted, unerring in his instincts, and relentless in his pursuit of justice. One of Reacher's quirks is that he rarely changes his clothes, since he hates to be bothered with laundry. Since he never carries luggage and he only showers when he gets a chance, he must be fairly malodorous. Surprisingly, no one seems to notice.
I enjoyed "Killing Floor," recognizing it for the entertaining fairy tale that it is. Child does not try for realism. If you can stomach tremendous carnage and you like non-stop action, then you will enjoy "Killing Floor".
on January 23, 2012
I need to start reading the 1 star reviews first. If I had done that, I would have never purchased this book. What a waste of time. Unfortunately, I have to finish every book that I start, so I suffered through to the end. The story is simply so contrived and unbelievable, as to be pointless.
*SPOILERS* (Well - not really spoilers. But, if you are still surprised by a Jack in the Box, they might be considered spoilers.)
Some of these have been pointed out by others.
- Where the heck are the feds?!? Their TOP anti-counterfeiting agent (although not from the secret service?) gets shot in the head, the Feds ID the body through fingerprints, and nobody bothers to show up? Nobody? He was supposedly the greatest anti-counterfeit agent the country had ever seen and nobody even comes down to investigate? Wow. That one was hard to swallow.
- The new detective that is hired by the city is supposedly hired because his interview went so bad, they thought he was an idiot (bad people running the town wanted a idiot for the head detective). YET, one of the bad guys that was in on the scam (an FBI agent) was good friends with the detective and knew him to be brilliant back in Boston and could have easily informed the others. How does that even make sense?!? And, the FBI agent knew that he was going to take the job and told him not to, but didn't just tell his accomplices to hire someone else? Not to mention the HUGE coincidence that the FBI agent is in on the scam. Really? All the FBI agents in the country and it happened to be the detectives friend? I think this was supposed to be the big twist at the end of the story where people are surprised. I was surprised - that someone could write junk like this.
- The trunk of a car baking in the sun in the middle of an airport parking lot is not a good place to hide dead bodies. Sorry.
- He kills 2 policemen and an FBI agent, but is able to walk away at the end of the book. Oh, and he brutally kills several other people. But, since they are the bad people, and everyone is supposed to know that they are the bad people. He should just get to walk away.
- Sunday. Much of the plot is based on the fact that something is going to be completed on Sunday and everyone will be safe again. But when you get to the end of the book, you realize that this whole Sunday thing makes no sense. Arguably, the worst plot device in the whole book. Unless you consider the coincidence of having the hero show up in a random town on a random night and it happens to be the town that his brother is murdered in and the night it happened on. Oh, and he walked right past it.
- The main character (Jack) is simply amazing. He is not only the smartest guy in the room, but also the strongest and fastest and most accurate with a gun. He knows the right thing to say at the right time, the right look to give at the right time, very tender with women, very nice to the good people, and a ruthless killer who feels no remorse. He is always three steps ahead of the enemy whether strategically or tactically. He would know your email password if you sat near him at a restaurant based on your menu selection. He would correctly guess which eye you were going to blink next based on you hair color and favorite type of dog. I am trying to recall a single point in the book where he was injured (he did get a headache at one point). Despite killing a lot of ruthless killers, he never seems to get a scratch.
-There are many more. Too many to list. I have read Dora the Explorer stories to the kids that are more believable than this book.
on February 5, 2005
I picked up this book based on the reviews here on Amazon, and I wish I hadn't.
To be honest, I'm surprised at the good reviews that this book has received. I'll admit, the first chapter of the book, I was prepared to be sucked in. But, the plot and details in the book were so poorly done, that the positive first impression I had quickly evaporated.
The main character is laughably unrealistic, and it's obvious that the author was not in the military, and made no effort at research or proofreading (note to Lee Child: it's .22 "caliber", not "gauge"; corporals are ncos, and wouldn't do an officer's laundry; MPs are not "elite soldiers expected to take down green berets, etc"; MPs are analogous to "patrol cops" in the army. Reacher would more realistically be CID if he's investigating; etc.). Also, there's a point in the book where Reacher puts his pistol and ammunition in an oven to dry. I'm not going to even bother pointing out why this is a bad idea, especially considering Reacher's "military expertise".
The plot is similarly full of holes, and the key point of suspense _still_ makes no sense (the "sunday deadline").
In short, rather than waste more time with this book pointing out everything the author got wrong, I'll just say to prospective readers that for "brain candy thrillers", there are so many examples out there that do a better job, why waste your time?
Pick up a De Mille, a Cornwell, etc, or better yet, a Westlake, a n Ian Rankin, a Robert B. Parker ( for something more than brain candy)
on December 16, 2012
The one positive thing I can say about this book is that it has lowered my expectations for the upcoming "Jack Reacher" movie to the point that the film cannot be a disappointment.
That said, let's discuss this book specifically. It is so bad that the only reason I forced myself to finish it was because I wanted to be completely fair in this review, just in case it had some whopper of an ending. It didn't. Clawing my own eyes out would have been worse than reading this book -- but just barely.
Many other "one-star" reviews have made the same points, but some points merit reiteration.
Lee Child has obviously chosen to ignore the time-tested writer's maxim to "write what you know." Because he knows nothing about police work, firearms, the military, the federal government, or counterfeiting U.S. currency. I happen to know a good deal about nearly all of those things, the only exception being counterfeiting, but even that I do know something about.
The entire plot is based on an absurd coincidence that even the characters apparently find hard to believe, given that Jack Reacher himself comments on the absurdity of it. Then what follows from that is so implausible, so ridiculous that it has the feel of farce. Sort of like trying to take an Austin Powers movie seriously, like comparing SKYFALL to THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME.
Then there is the writing itself. What does Mr. Child have against sentences that contain a subject? About 2/3 of the sentences in the novel begin with the verb and have had their subjects lopped off. I'm a fan of sentence fragments when used for affect, but when fragments make up more than half of the narrative, the result is so annoying it makes reading almost painful. The book reads as if Mr. Child's editors told him to shorten the manuscript and he did so by simply cutting off the first word of most of the sentences. A better idea to shorten the manuscript would have been to cut all the redundant sentences, of which there are many. Or maybe cut 50 or 60 of the 120 times he used the word "shrugged."
The first surprise I had in reading this book was how bad it was. The second surprise, which actually eclipsed the first, was discovering how many five-star reviews it has received -- 270 so far!
Did those reviewers read the same book I did? I don't see how that is possible. The greatest mystery in this quasi-mystery novel is how so many people could find it so good. Seriously, more than three times more five-stars than three-stars? That many more people found this book excellent than found it merely good? To paraphrase Hamlet, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
To summarize: This books is terrible. The plot is so stupid, filled with some many holes, and so implausible that it would destroy even a well-written book. Unfortunately, this is a very poorly written book by someone with no demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter.
And then there's the dialogue and internal monologues of the hero, Jack Reacher. How about this jewel, "Shotguns and children don't mix." Mr. Child not only has Reacher tell us that once, which was bad enough, but he wanted to drive home the point by having Reacher share that pearl of wisdom with us twice.
Which brings me to the third, and biggest, surprise of all, which was learning that this book was the genesis for a series that spans nearly 20 books. How on earth that happened, I have no idea, other than to acknowledge that I am hopelessly out of touch with what constitutes a good book. So by all means, if you think Jerry Springer or Keeping Up With The Kardashians is great TV, then you might very well love KILLING FLOOR.
on November 12, 2012
Having noticed more and more Jack Reacher books at my local airport, I thought I'd give one a go. It was awful. I thought publishers were supposed to read books before letting them loose on unsuspecting customers. I will not be reading any more Jack Reacher books. Life is just too short.
The books failings are too many to spend time listing them all, but a quick rundown includes:
1) Ridiculously unbelievable characters
2) Badly researched plot
3) A constant stream of "no doubt about it"
4) Inconsistent abilities of main character (crack shot who hits people at 100 feet with a pistol and then misses from 10 feet)
on November 24, 2012
Child's Jack Reacher is less plausible as a human being with a personality than is Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter. The language and the details ring false; Reacher jumps to illogical conclusions (which are always correct); the military details are laughably wrong. The book heaps coincidence on coincidence. Reacher kills, by my count, eleven people, two of them without even knowing who they were - they were following him. So he shoots them in the back, not knowing if they are good guys or bad guys, crooks or the FBI. Oh, wait, they're Hispanic, so they're obviously evil.
The book is set in an imaginary town, Margrave, Georgia. It's magical. It's an hour south of Atlanta, it's an hour north of Macon, it's an hour east of the Alabama state line, it's an hour and a half west of Augusta. There is no possible geographical location for it. They grow peanuts and tobacco (no, they wouldn't; it's above the fall line). A blind black musician used to walk from Margrave to Jacksonville, Florida, back in the thirties. It's easy because Jacksonville is "just across the line." Three hundred miles, though.
The novel takes place in 1996; one of the many murders occurs at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. Except that it's described as having features it never has had (trust me on this, my family has worked there for many years). In the crucial scene, Reacher can't protect a woman because he's on the wrong side of a nonexistent glass barrier that divides the huge underground corridor into two lanes of traffic, one going toward the gates, one going toward Baggage Claim. There was never such a barrier. The crowd is so dense that Reacher jumps up onto the rail of the moving sidewalk (moving the wrong way) and runs along it against the flow. Wouldn't happen. The woman is swept along by another incredibly massive crowd.
Then in Baggage Claim, someone tosses her onto the carousel, rides with her back through into the handling area, and knifes her.
And nobody notices. That dense crowd must have evaporated. And there are no baggage handlers behind the scenes, none at all, working on this astoundingly hectic travel day.
Give me a break.
What else? The style is stultifying. Little tiny short fragments of sentences abound, stuck together in what seems to be completely random order. It gets old very fast. I cannot believe in any of the characters - a twelve-year-old white boy asks his daddy to beat a black man to death for him, Pop does it in broad daylight on a public street, bludgeoning the victim to a pulp with a metal-headed cane, in front of a witness . . . and nothing is done about it. No, no, no. The whole book is unbelievable, poorly written, and wretchedly researched. I won't read another, and I'd advise you to give this one a miss.
on June 24, 2010
Killing Floor gets 2 stars from me simply because I managed to make it the whole way through.
I have to say - I'm glad this wasn't my first Reacher book - because I wouldn't have picked up another. It's clear that Jack Reacher's character was in early development with this first book. The utter fawning over Roscoe. . . the speed (a week) at which their relationship progressed to a level where they couldn't stand being apart for a couple days. . . the dancing and jumping around by the dumpster. . . these are just samples of many instances where the early Reacher didn't align with the Reacher from later books. I found this Reacher quite difficult to stomach.
And the plot holes! One of the worst was a near psychic conclusion that Reacher came to when time was of the essence and he had to find someone quickly. . . . He called hotel after hotel asking for an alias he practically picked out of a hat, with no signs of doubt that he might be even slightly wrong about the name. And magically, he nailed it. (It's comically more complex than this, but I don't want to ruin the fun.)
There also seemed to be a lot of places in the book where Lee Child hadn't perfected his American voice. I've only heard of bathroom stalls being called "cubicles" in the UK, for instance.
Finally, I'm sure there are opinions on both sides of this issue - but I've decided that I prefer Reacher stories written in 3rd person. I actually miss "Reacher said nothing." And frankly, the way Reacher described things in this book often made me wish he'd said nothing. I'm about to crack the cover on Gone Tomorrow (another first person book) . . . so we'll see if my opinion changes after that.
Bottom line - if you're just getting started with Jack Reacher. . . don't read this book first. The Enemy was where I started. . . and I've read many since then.