Fiction: “Killing Floor” by Lee Child

killing floorSo before I get into this review, I feel that I should mention that I’ve come to recognize that the manner in which I review a book is not normal. I mean, I give a small, hopefully-spoiler-free synopsis of the plot, and a rating, and at times I comment on the writing and tell about my favorite parts, but on the whole, I deal with what the book makes me think about in my own weird connection-space versus just looking at the book on its own. I hope that’s okay with everyone. And if it’s not, then … there are tons of other book bloggers out there. I just hope I make some people laugh about the way my funny little mind works, that’s all.

Anyway. I guess the reason I wanted to say that first is because I have a feeling this review will be less about the book and more about How Much Alaina Hates Tom Cruise.

See, I’ve mentioned my buddy Brad here a couple of times. He’s also a big movie buff, and I still remember December of 2011, where he would *not* shut up about Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol [Brad: “I call it MI-4-GP. Because that’s what the cool kids are doing.” Me: “No, they’re really not.”]. And one day, The Roommate and I decided ‘hey, people are saying this movie is pretty good, we’re bored, let’s go see it.’

Worst. Decision. Ever. Because I like Jeremy Renner. And Simon Pegg. But I HATE Tom Cruise. HATE HIM. I still have 24 copies of Jerry Maguire on VHS in a box in my trunk just so I can leave them on badly-parked cars. Thanks, Yankee Swap! (It’s another long story, and I’ve already got one going nowhere. I gotta keep them straight somehow.) But anyway, Amelia and I went to see M-I: 4, and I was excited because Sawyer from Lost was in the movie, and I for some reason thought he was the villain? And it was going to be awesome?

Sawyer dies in the first ten minutes.

sawyer's pissed
Seriously, y’all. That was my face for the rest of the movie. For the next two hours.

When I went into work the next day…
Brad: *runs away.*

Flash forward to this year when I started seeing commercials for Jack Reacher, starring his Royal Wackiness, Tom Cruise. And I knew I didn’t want to go see it, because I hate Tom Cruise, and also, because MI-4 hadn’t washed itself out of my mouth yet. But … I did want to go see it. It looked kind of cool, and also, Tom Cruise may have seemed somewhat funny? MAYBE MY EMOTIONS WERE WRONG.

Well, on one of my days off, I got called in to work because there was a snowstorm, and the closing manager couldn’t close, so could I come in? Yeah, no problem. I make it down my driveway, the twenty miles to Portland in an okay snowstorm – certainly not the worst drive I’ve ever had – and when I get to work, we get word that the mall’s closing due to the storm.

So I said ‘fuck it’ and went to the movies. And the first thing that was playing was Jack Reacher. Okay, Fate, fine; you win.

For the most succinct review ever: I was pleased that it didn’t suck. It probably helped that Tom Cruise didn’t talk much.  Could it have been better? Absofuckinlutely. But am I demanding a refund? Nope. In fact, it made me go to Bull Moose to see if they had a copy of the first Jack Reacher novel. Because when I saw that Amazon Kindle wanted to charge me $10 to buy it, I said FUCK THAT SHIT, drove to Bull Moose, and paid a whopping $3.97 for a paperback.

BUY USED, BUY LOCAL, SAVE MONEY: BE AWESOME. Yet another reason for me to always buy books – it’s cheaper!

So this is the first in the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is an ex-MP who, at the writing of the book, has been released on an honorable discharge from the military six months ago.  He has very little family to speak of, and no responsibilities, so he spends his days wandering. When he wanders into Margrave, Georgia, he gets arrested for murder. He knows it’s a set-up from the get-go, because he’s our narrator and he hasn’t killed anyone since his time in the service. He gets interrogated by Findlay, the acting chief detective on the tiny Margrave police force. Findlay investigates Reacher’s alibi, but can’t prove the validity of the alibi until Sunday. As the first day of the novel takes place on a Friday, that means Reacher has to spend the weekend in prison without bail, as suspected murderers must. Why was Reacher accused? The chief of police claims he saw Reacher near the warehouse where the murders occurred, which was impossible as Reacher was on a bus outside of Jacksonville at the time.

Another person gets interrogated and linked to the crime, so both Reacher and this other guy, Hubble, end up in prison. Reacher is a very tough character and manages to survive through two riots on Death Row, because the guard ‘screwed up’ and put them on Death Row instead of the normal holding cell floor.

Obviously, Reacher is cleared, and Findlay respects his past as military policeman enough to ask Reacher to help him with the case. But it becomes personal when Reacher realizes that one of the victims is his older brother.

That realization puts Reacher on a course for vengeance. And unlike Emily Thorne on Revenge, it is not a long, plotted-out affair. No – Reacher finds the bad dudes, and kills them. End of story. There’s some more plot in there, involving counterfeiting, the Treasury Department, a vast conspiracy and a corrupt town, but I’m not going to get into it. I will say that I was also pleasantly surprised with the book. Enough that I returned to Bull Moose and bought the second book in the series (another $3.97! Two books for the price of one! Suck it, Kindle!).

What I really needed to get used to — especially after reading the long-winded Special Topics in Calamity Physics — was the syntax Reacher used. He narrated in very short, succinct, almost rough sentences:

It gave me a problem. I needed to see inside the truck. I needed the evidence. I needed to know I was in the right. And I needed to know soon. Sunday was forty-eight hours away. I had things to do before Sunday. A lot of things. [362]

And there’s nothing wrong with that; but after coming off of five hundred pages of “no one met a metaphor they didn’t like,” it was refreshing.  And jarring.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this up and hopefully fall asleep before 2:30 a.m. I’m taking it is a good sign that I’m falling asleep at the desk? Maybe?

Final recommendations:
1. Read Killing Floor. It’s pretty solid. And the gore factor is pretty minimal, all told.
2. Jack Reacher the Movie is a good entry … for Redbox. Don’t pay actual money to see it.
3. Don’t rent M:I-4, for the love of all that is holy. Your eyeballs will thank me later.
4. Gangster Squad is also Redbox-able. UNLESS YOU WATCH ARCHER. Then go for when Ryan Gosling says he brought bear claws to the party. Then wait for my sister and I to go RAWR at the same time, because seriously, we’re assholes. Don’t go to the movies with us. Or also, for at the end, when SPOILER ALERT, Josh Brolin throws his badge into the ocean, and Alaina yells out, “Return from whence you came!”

Seriously. I’m an asshole. Just ask the dude whose truck we Jerry Maguire’d in the parking garage that night.

Grade for Killing Floor: 3 stars


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