Title: Killing Floor
Author: Lee Child
Date: 2010 (1997)
Publisher: Bantam Press
Started: 26th August 2015
Completed: 28th August 2015
Summary: ‘Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles down a country road into Margrave, Georgia. An arbitrary decision he’s about to regret. Reacher is the only stranger in town on the day they have had their first homicide in thirty years. The cops arrest Reacher and the police chief turns eyewitness to place him at the scene. As nasty secrets leak out, and the body count mounts, one thing is for sure.’ – Amazon
Killing Floor is the first book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. It was the first book to be released but it isn’t the first book chronologically. However, it is recommended that you read the series in order of release instead of chronologically and that’s how I’m planning to read the series.
There’s currently 20 books in the series and the 20th, Make Me, came out this September (2015).
There’s a film adaptation of one of the later novels, One Shot, called Jack Reacher which stars Tom Cruise. I’ve never seen the film but I can’t imagine Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher who 6 foot 5 with a 50 inch chest and weighs about 220 pounds. Sorry Tom.
I liked a lot about Killing Floor from Lee Child’s writing style to the characters and their relationships.
The characters in Killing Floor seemed like normal people. They were very realistic and I could picture them easily. Jack is a powerful man physically and intellectually but he’s living a nomadic, lonely life after leaving the army. As the novel is in first person you get a good sense of Jack’s character but only from his own point of view and this can cause problems when considering whether he’s a reliable narrator or not. The first person narrative also gives you a front row seat to the violent acts that Jack commits which gives the novel an almost sadistic quality because it is as if you, the reader, are committing these violent acts. I’ll talk more about the first person narrative later.
Roscoe is a female police officer who has always lived in the town of Margrave and she becomes Jack’s lover later in the novel. Roscoe isn’t just a love interest although she is Jack’s love interest. She’s very clever and she plays an important role in the investigation that is being carried out in the novel. I loved the relationship between Jack and Roscoe because it made sense. It was about attraction and physicality, not love at first sight or anything like that. There wasn’t a fairy tale ending where she agrees to wait for him or where she leaves her home town just to please him. Instead, there was a realistic ending which I could believe.
Finlay is another police officer in the novel. He also plays a huge role in the investigation and is one of the only people that Jack trusts other than Roscoe. I also loved the two guys who owned the barber shop. They were funny and very clever.
I loved Lee Child’s writing style because it’s realistic. For example, I don’t know much about US military training so I don’t know if Jack Reacher’s abilities are accurate or not but they seemed realistic to me as an outsider. I understood what Reacher was doing and there was enough background information about his army career to make his abilities believable. This realistic writing style continued into the setting of the novel. The novel is set in the fictional town of Margrave, Georgia. There’s just enough description of the town for a reader to get a sense of the setting without being overwhelmed with details. I understood that Margrave was a sleepy town that had never seen much violence and that was all that really mattered to the plot of the novel.
I loved the descriptions of the violence and the action that Child includes in the novel. It’s very detailed and some of it even made me cringe away from reading it because the description was so graphic.
Finally, I really enjoyed the plot. It was intricate and thrilling and I just thought the novel was really enjoyable.
There’s just two things that I disliked about Killing Floor but one of them is a major part of the novel.
I’ll start with the major dislike which was the 1st person narrative. I don’t like 1st person narrative in general and I didn’t like it in this book. It wasn’t as bad as some other books with 1st person narrative but I’m glad that most of the Jack Reacher series is written in 3rd person. As I mentioned earlier, there are some good aspects to the first person narrative but I just hate it. It’s a personal preference and I understand that.
I also didn’t like the throw-away lines about Reacher’s and Roscoe’s sex life. The description is very masculine which suits the novel because it is from Jack’s point of view but I just don’t think it was necessary and it got boring after a while.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Killing Floor and I’m currently on the last chapter for the second book in the series, Die Trying. I don’t know if I’ll catch up with the series any time soon but I do want to read all of the Jack Reacher novels that have been or will be released.
I would recommend this book but not to everyone. If you enjoy thrillers or maybe even crime fiction then this is a great book to read. If you enjoyed the film then I’d definitely recommend that you read the book.
However, if you’re squeamish at all (especially about eyes) then I wouldn’t read this book. I’m not squeamish and some of the violence had me feeling a little nauseous. I wasn’t too bothered by that because I love it when I have a strong reaction to description but it will make some people feel sick.
Have you read Killing Floor? Have you seen the film starring Tom Cruise? If so, what did you think?