Book Review: Killing Floor by Lee Child (Jack Reacher #1)

So I’d been thinking about my book reviews recently, and how really they’re just meandering diatribes about my thoughts and feelings about the particular book that I happened to have finished reading. I thought briefly about changing that, and then remember I don’t necessarily want to be a professional book reviewer. I remember reading a book review of some book or another and think, man, this looks like a book report with some complex star rating algorithm attached. So yeah, I’ll keep doing it my way until someone complains. That being said, today you get to read-think my word-thoughts about a book that’s nearly two decades old- Killing Floor by Lee Child.

I remember seeing the Jack Reacher movie in theaters nearly 3 years ago, and to be honest it was a fun action romp. It’s part of the reason I grabbed Killing Floor on a recent outing to a local bookstore. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and I’m not sure you could really accuse this novel of being either of those. It’s outside of my normal milieu as it were, which was my other goal with picking up the book. On the plus side, I also know it’s fairly successful, so maybe I could learn something from it.

For those of you who need a brief rundown of the plot, Jack Reacher is an ex-military policeman who gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and dragged into a murder investigation. The rest of the book is pretty much just how he: A) Gets himself out of being a suspect and B) Helps Deal with the murderers in question. You’d think that this franchise having been turned into an action movie that there would be a lot of fight scenes throughout. That’s not really so much the case with it though. Honestly there are three or four fight scenes over the course of the novel that take place. Not to much, but just enough to keep it from being talking heads throughout.

Lee Child does a great job with first person narration. If I ever want to point out an example of first person narration done well, this will definitely be one of my go-to’s. Another thing that he does well that I’m going to keep in mind with my own writing is that he kept raising questions.  Even when he answered an initially raised question, he would have the answer lead to more questions, and also, more actions, as Jack Reacher is attempting to figure out the answers to these questions just the same as the reader.

That being said, I’m not rushing off to grab the next in the long line of Jack Reacher novels. While I did enjoy the book, I just didn’t get super invested in Jack Reacher as a character. There’s no emotional investment in his success, especially after the way a subplot fell flat on its face in the last pages of the novel. I think the other problem was that it all got wrapped up too neatly at the end. So it didn’t really leave me wanting more. There’s another lesson there. A trite, hackneyed lesson.

I’ll probably grab another Jack Reacher novel eventually. Killing Floor was well written and worth the ride, but I’m not clamoring for more or anxiously anticipating new novels like I am with some of my favorite authors from Science Fiction & Fantasy.

-Crouse

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