Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: The Killing Floor

This entry is part 37 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

Call me basic but I started my holiday with a Jack Reacher book.

That’s right, I’m now officially a middle-aged mother. An impressive feat for a 25-year-old man with no children (that I know of).

Still, don’t limit me, and I won’t limit you. A great deal seeing as your potential ceiling is so low it would make an unpleasant crawl space.

Sorry, that’s personal.

But you did start it.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, I’m doing this man vs bookshelf challenge, aren’t I?

And, after 16 weeks in which I only twice failed to read more than one book in seven days, I hit a horrible run of form. Five books in a row taking at least six days to read.

The Killing Floor was the fifth of these.

I’ll forgo the section of this blog where I cry about my lack of motivation. I’ve done that to death over recent blogs and you’re sick of it, I’m sure. I know I am.

All I’ll say is The Killing Floor brought me the closest yet to tumbling into the dreaded eight-day mark. Of course, I had to take two days off during that time for a work event, but there are no excuses in this challenge.

Still, I did it, finishing the book on the plane on the way to Florida, and I feel a little better for it. The next two weeks should give me a bit of time to get a lot of reading done, and also should kick my writing back into gear. That’s the plan, anyway.

But first… this blog.

Lee Child, Jack Reacher and Me

The last couple of blogs, I haven’t done my ‘author and me’ section.

There are a few reasons for this. It didn’t make sense for the book, I was hard up for time and also lazy.

This would be a good place to reinstate everyone’s favourite blog section. Yet, I’m not going to write much about Lee Child and Me.

Longtime readers of my blog or people who read sentences backwards will know, I have already read a Jack Reacher book, in which I wrote a Lee Child and Me section.

You can read that here, then come back. Then I won’t need to write out my Lee Child and Me section again.

Perfect, no?

What I will do is remind you all what I thought of my first Jack Reacher book – The Hard Way. Here is what I said in my “Sum Up” section of that review.

>>>My preconceptions were wrong, and I believe Child is often undersold.
This novel was fast paced but it was clever, it was interesting, and it had great characters, led by a brilliant lead.
The climax could have been better, but it wasn’t dull. The mystery was well plotted and the resolution to that is more than satisfying.
I guessed certain elements of how it would go down, but there was plenty of mystery hidden.
Overall, this book has sold me on the Reacher series. I could happily pick up more and jump into them.
A four out of five on Goodreads.<<<

Look how nice I was.

You can see I was looking forward to picking up another Reacher story, 14 weeks and 26 books later.

But was it as good as its forbearer?

The Killing Floor

The Killing Floor is the very first Jack Reacher book.

The novel that launched this hero on a course that would make him one of the most popular characters of all time.

And was it good enough to be worthy of doing that?

De Ja Vu

An interesting thing about fiction readers is they think they’re smarter than filmgoers, but they’re not.

As with films, there are only about five stories. These are rewritten time and again with slight differences. Repackaged with a new cover. Sold to the same readers who read the same story the last thousand times it landed on shelves.

That’s why it’s so easy to become a rich and successful author.

The only reason I’ve sold so few books is that there is a worldwide conspiracy against me.


But we’ll leave that point alone for now.

Still, despite the fact all books are the same, I still feel the need to point out how extra the same these two Reacher books were.

The two stories boil as follows:

  1. Jack Reacher arrives in a new town and immediately (and inexplicably) gets involved in something serious by way of a stranger interrupting him while he sits in a cafe.
  2. Reacher is put in a position where he needs to get involved solving some sort of serious crime. Otherwise, there will be trouble.
  3. Reacher spends his time solving the mystery and feels emotionally involved with someone he will later need to save.
  4. Reacher is involved in an explosive fight in which he quickly and easily (and bloodily) dispatches a load of baddies, saving the day without any casualties.

Now, I am not for one second saying every Jack Reacher book follows the same format. Although it probably does. Nor am I saying this is a bad thing.

The formula works. The mystery is different in both cases and that is enough to carry the story along without it feeling too samey.

All I am saying is this formula is particularly formulaic.

The same pros and cons

Due to the similarities in these books my points on the pros and cons will be very much the same.

Again, you may be better off reading my The Hard Way review and leaving this one. If not, I will redo what I did there for this book.

On the pro side, we have a book that is an easy read. The pace starts high and remains that way throughout. There is not much time to stop and think and that’s okay because there is not much that needs thinking about.

That being said, there is a mystery here, and that mystery is as fascinating as was the one in The Hard Way. It keeps you guessing. I didn’t work out how the baddies were doing the thing they were doing (no spoilers) until Reacher explained it to me.

On the downside, we once again have an ending that was far too easy for my liking. In fact, this ties in with the big downside to the main character himself.

Reacher is a great character. He is a thinker, he is smart, he is somewhat charismatic, as well as being strong, fast, and a great shot.

What irritates me here is what irritated me in The Hard Way. I like my main character to be tested. To come through hardships, and this never happens to Reacher.

There are no big fight scenes or set pieces. There is only Reacher walking around and killing people without much resistance. Even when it comes to the end, he walks into the baddies HQ and kills everyone dead right away.

I imagine this will be a problem with all Reacher books. But, while it annoyed me, it did not detract too much from my enjoyment of the book.

The Personal Touch

One thing that was different here to The Hard Way was the more detailed look into Reacher’s life.

This makes sense. Many long-running series start with a case that revolves around the main character. It helps establish them, and it was no different here.

The Hard Way made almost no mention of Jack’s past life. But The Killing Floor focuses on his brother, delving into their relationship.

After reading The Hard Way, it was good to get more of an insight into the unstoppable Reacher’s background. It is something I would not mind seeing more of if I read more Reacher books in future.

Overall, a good addition.

Sum Up

If I was going to give someone a Reacher book to read, who had never read one before, I would give them this.

I have always thought it makes sense to start at the beginning of a series, even when the stories are not particularly linked. I feel no different here.

The Killing Floor is a great story, with a great pace and an engaging mystery. All good point, but the way it introduces Reacher is excellent, and the insight into his past is an exciting one.

So, if you’re looking at picking up your first Jack Reacher book, start with The Killing Floor.

Once you’re done with that, you can read Poor Choices, which is like a Jack Reacher sequel, except entirely different and written by me.

That’ll be good, won’t it?

Next Time

I mentioned I’m on holiday, right?

Well, while I’m here I”m trying to read the entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

I know, tough ask, right?

Probably won’t manage it but hey, if you don’t set your targets high how will you ever be disappointed?

So, next time out, we’ll be looking at that.

See you then.

Series Navigation<< Man vs Bookshelf: Motivation and Doctor WhoMan vs Bookshelf: The Dark Tower >>
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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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