BOOK REVIEW: Killing Floor – by Lee Child

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Title: Killing Floor
(Jack Reacher Series #1)

Author: Lee Child
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 1st 1997
Finished reading: April 30th 2014
Pages: 524
Rating 3

“Evaluate. Long experience had taught me to evaluate and assess. When the unexpected gets dumped on you, don’t waste time. Don’t figure out how or why it happened. Don’t recriminate. Don’t figure out whose fault it is. Don’t work out how to avoid the same mistake next time. All of that you do later. If you survive.”

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I can’t really remember reading something from Lee Child before, so I will consider this a first impression. Although I can’t deny enjoying the general plot and action, there was a slight overdose of testosterone used in this book Killing Floor. It almost feels as if Lee Child put old action movies like Die Hard or Rambo together in a blender and left his story ideas in there too soak up all those male hormones. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the overall story, but the actions of the main character Jack Reacher are sometimes a bit too Rambo. Also, the sometimes short sentences got on my nerves, especially in the beginning. I guess that is what Lee Child was going for in describing his main character for his new series, but I wasn’t impressed. I will be trying other work of him, just to see if his writing changes over the years… But for now I have to say I’ve read better.

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In Killing Floor, we follow ex-military policeman Jack Reacher wandering around, and get to the sleepy town of Margrave. The first impression is a dull town, too well looked after maybe, but quiet and without crime. That changes quickly when they arrest Reacher for a murder he didn’t commit. A conspiracy involving almost the whole town is slowly revealing itself… When Reacher finds out it was his brother who got killed that night, he swears he is going to find the killers. In the meantime, more bodies are starting to show up, all brutally killed. Together with a few seemingly not dirty cops, one of them turning into his lover (Roscoe), he tries to find out what is really going on in Margrave. Here it turns really Rambo and Reacher kills various bad guys on the way; at one point five against one. Which caused my eyebrow to raise real high.

Of course the classic kidnapping couldn’t be missing, and adds some fuel on the fire. Determained to save the day, Reacher goes for his final big bang. Somehow he manages to uncover the conspiracy, save the hostages and get away unharmed, even with the bad guys supposedly having weapons that shoot in a wide range to kill everyone quite easy. And to insure a next story, Reacher decides he can’t settle down and has to hit the road again…

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I guess Killing Floor serves to enjoy yourself for a few hours, as long as you know what to are getting into. Sure, it is an entertaining read full of action, but just too Rambo for me to really enjoy it. So if you are a Die Hard Rambo fan, this is the book for you.

BOOK REVIEW: The Woman In Black – by Susan Hill

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Title: The Woman In Black
Author: Susan Hill
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

First published: October 10th 1983
Finished reading: April 22nd 2014

Pages: 192

(Read in Spanish: ‘La Mujer De Negro’)

Rating 3

“For a long time, I did not move from the dark, wood-panelled hall. I wanted company, and I had none, lights and warmth and a strong drink inside me, I needed reassurance. But, more than anything else, I needed an explanation. It is remarkable how powerful a force simple curiosity can be. I had never realized that before now. In spite of my intense fear and sense of shock, I was consumed with the desire to find out exactly who it was that I had seen, and how, I could not rest until I had settled the business, for all that, while out there, I had not dared to stay and make any investigations.”

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I couldn’t find an English version of this novel, so I decided to read it in Spanish. I didn’t realize it was going to be an old fashioned ghost story, but I must say I wasn’t really bothered by it. The storyline in general was interesting and made you wonder what really happened at the isolated Eel Marsh house in the past and what is happening now. What did bother me was the language used, which made it slow to read at some points. But then again, that might or might not be due to inadequate translation. I guess I will have to read the original version before I will be able to judge the language…

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The Woman In Black is about an older Arthur Kipps, who after hearing ghost stories on Christmas Eve with his family remembers a terrifying event. Many years ago, when he was a young lawyer and having a relationship with a different woman, his then boss asked him to attend a funeral of one of their clients and sort out the paperwork, since there were no direct relatives. The old woman lived at an old and isolated mansion Eel Marsh, and a lot of rumors and stories go around in the villages closest to Eel Marsh. As an outsider Arthur doesn’t know about any of this, but is soon introduced to the mystery of the woman in black. When he goes to Eel Marsh, strange things are starting to happen, terrifying things… Arthur realizes the woman in black he keeps seeing isn’t really alive anymore, and a ghost story is born. What will happen to Arthur, and what about the curse of the woman in black? And the children?

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The end made a nice twist; it showed that the spirit of woman in black had a lot of power even far away from the Eel Marsh house. It’s not the typical ghost story and in parts I didn’t like the language used, but it is still worth reading. Plus, it is a short novel, so not a lot of time wasted in case you don’t like it. I might re-read it myself but only if I find an English version.

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Run – by Erica Spindler

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Title: Dead Run
Author: Erica Spindler
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
First published: May 28th 2002
Finished reading: April 14th 2014
Pages: 466

Rating 3

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Dean Run is in many ways just another of those crime thrillers that doesn’t really stand out from the rest. A lot of cliches are used in describing both characters and the plot, which was kind of a turn off. But although I normally detest stories with too many cliches, in this case I will forgive Erica Spindler because of the plot twists. It is easy to read and would serve perfectly on a rainy night with a cup of hot chocolate… Or on vacation for that matter.

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It all starts when Liz decides to move to Key West to find out what happened to her sister Rachel. Rachel, the local pastor of Key West, had disappeared mysteriously, but not before warning her sister that she uncovered something and that she was in trouble. Everybody seems to believe that Rachel just ran off, but Liz knows something happened to her sister. Soon after she arrives at Key West, people began showing up dead. The women brutally murdered and showing signs of a ritualistic murder similar to the style of the “New Testament” serial killer now on death row. Together with an ex-cop Rick, who is still friends with the local police, they try to reveal the truth, but nobody seems to believe them… At a point even Rick doesn’t believe the conspiracy theories Liz believes in anymore and she is left alone to uncover some hidious secrets.There is something evil on the loose, and will there be somebody to stop it?

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I must say the final chapters made me change my opinion about this thriller by Erica Spindler. Although I still find Dead Run rather cliche for various reasons and the relationship between characters like Liz and Rick too obvious and on the verge of boring, I must say the end surprised me. Spindler was able to use various twists in her story, and I wouldn’t have guessed the identity of the killer until the very last.

BOOK REVIEW: A Feast For Crows – by George R.R. Martin

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Title: A Feast For Crows
(A Song Of Ice And Fire Series #4)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy, Epic
First published: October 17th 2005
Finished reading: April 12th 2014
Pages: 978
Rating 2,5

“A man does not need to be a wizard to know truth from falsehood, not if he has eyes. You need only learn to read a face. Look at the eyes. The mouth. The muscles here, at the corners of the jaw, and here, where the neck joins the shoulders.” He touched her lightly with two fingers. “Some liars blink. Some stare. Some look away. Some lick their lips. Many coer their mouths just before they tell a lie, as if to hide their deceit. Other signs may be more subtle, but they are always there. A false smile and a true one may look alike, but they are as different as dusk from dawn.”

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Here I am staring at the last page of this fourth book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series. Before I started reading, I had promised myself this would be the last one of the series, since I find them increasingly less interesting and confusing, partly because of the amount of characters George R.R. Martin introduces in the series. The fact that he cut the story in half made me wonder if I should read the fifth book after all. In a A Feast For Crows, Martin only tells the story from the point of view of a select group of characters, leaving out important names as Tyrion, Jon Snow, Daenerys and Stannis. The only way to know the whole story is read the fifth one too, unless I want to wait for the tv series reach this part of the story… For now, I would say no to book number five, but I’m sure somewhere in the future my curiosity will win. Until then, I will content myself watching the fourth season of the tv series.

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It is hard to summarize a book with so many different storylines, but in short you can conclude the war between the multiple kings is taking its toll. Many people died or are dying, including some of our main characters. The threat of the Others and Daenerys and her dragons are being pushed to the background. Instead, we follow mainly the women of Westeros: Queen Cersei, the princess of Dorn, Sansa or Alyssa, Arya or Cat, Brienne… Book number four is mostly focused on the adventures and effects of the war on their lives. Parts of the story are missing, and others are touching the border of too much repetition. Seriously, how many times we have to read Brienne is looking for a highborn maid of three-and-ten, with a fair face and auburn hair?

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I feel I’m slowly distancing myself from this series. Although I now know this is only the first part of what he ment as one book, I’m not sure if I can bring it up to read the second half. I don’t mind the amount of pages, but I’m not up for another week and something of almost forced reading in order to finish it. For now, I won’t be touching another Martin, but who knows, maybe in a few months…

BOOK REVIEW: No Country For Old Men – by Cormac McCarthy

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Title: No Country For Old Men
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Western
First published: July 19th 2005
Finished reading: April 1st 2014
Pages: 309
Rating 1,5

“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?”

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I must be honest and say I wasn’t planning on finishing No Country For Old Men. I actually started reading this one a few months ago, but couldn’t grow into the book and left it. The lack of punctuation, Southern dialect and too many point of views without any explanation who the characters are… It all made me just want to bury the book under a pìle of dust to be never found again. But the fact they made a very succesful movie out of it and a lot of people seem to enjoy the story made me pick it up again. I would be lying if I said I liked it, but I admit the story became a little better later on. Although now finished it, I would never touch this one again.

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The three main characters of this book are Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh and Ed Tom Bell. In the beginning we don’t know who the story is really about, and it’s quite confusing. Would it be Llewelyn Moss, who found a bunch of dead Mexicans in the desert with a briefcase full of cash with them? Or is it Anton Chigurh, who is trying to get the cash back at all costs, revealing himself as a coldblooded serial killer? But no, it is Ed Tom Bell, the sheriff, who we follow in the end. Being a war veteran, he has some issues of his own, but he seems to know what he is doing. There are a lot of deaths showing up in his jurisdiction though lately, and he is trying to find out who is guilty. Both Bell and Chigurh are trying to find Moss, and Moss has even more people hunting him…The money he found was drugs-related and those people aren’t the ones you want to play with. Moss isn’t able to hide forever, but Chigurh seems a mastermind in disappearing. Will Bell ever find him?

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I guess I only finished No Country For Old Men because I literally forced myself to read it until the end. I didn’t enjoy it, and the language he used annoyed me right until the very end. It might be that he impersonated the Southern dialect perfectly, but even as a philologist I just couldn’t enjoy the story. The lack of punctuation and spelling just got on my nerves. Part of the problem was that I felt almost confused about what the story really was about and even who was talking at certain points. So all in all I would only recommend this one to my potential enemies.