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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Killing Floor by Lee Child

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 Book blurb: Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both.

There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personal against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive.

Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed— he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of-towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by.

Despite the crude, tough-naïf narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin.

Winner of the 1998 Barry Award for Best First Novel, awarded by Deadly Pleasures magazine.

Read as an audiobook.  My first comment actually has nothing to do with the book itself, but I spent disk one wondering where I had heard this particular narrator before (Dick Hill) and was delighted when I figured out it was the Wallander books by Henning Mankell.  Now the downside to this is in my head, the narrators voice “belongs” to Kurt Wallander, not Jack Reacher, so initially it was a bit of a disconnect for me.  However, Dick Hill does voices so incredibly well that it was not a problem moving into the rest of the book.

Narrator aside, I was immediately drawn in and thought the opening chapters were a unique way to start a murder-mystery.  I couldn't think of a similar book where the protagonist starts by getting thrown into jail. 

I have several complaints with the book, starting with the romance.  The basis of the attraction didn't seem plausible - the female cop finds Reacher attractive, they flirt while he's behind bars (unwashed, unshaven, in well worn travel clothes, and accused of murder) and after he is released, they tumble into bed because he had 'nice eyes'.  Alll right-y then.  Complaint number two - the implausibility that Reacher would be taken as quickly as he was into the confidence and subsequent murder investigation.  He basically had the freedom to come and go from the police station as he wished.  Next issue: Roscoe (the love interest) just happens to have a Desert Eagle pistol locked in her desk.  Major snort factor here - compensating for anything in particular are we to give the protagonist one of the largest handguns in existence?  Like a Glock or Ruger wouldn't have been just as adequate.   I did say I had several complaints....Reacher doesn't have ID.  So how the heck did he manage to fly to NY city and back to Atlanta?  Teeny little detail there.  Oh! Snort factor number two!  The perps are running around with one of the most powerful shotguns - an Ithica Mag 10.  Can we get any larger in the massive weapons category?  Ahahahaha!

Complaints aside, I liked this one.  I liked the methodical way the plot was rolled out, it was an interesting topic, not a lot of stupid action scenes, and I could deal with the predictability of the plot.  Which I can't talk about lest I spoil the whole book.


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