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Thriller vs. Woodunits

In the essay “The Typology of Detective Fiction,” literary critic Tzvetan Todorov says that a whodunit contains two stories: “the story of the crime and the story of the investigation” (44).
The whodunit keeps these stories entirely separate. Often, the crime occurs before the whodunit even begins.

In contrast, the thriller “fuses the two stories or, in other words, suppresses the first and vitalizes the second.”
The thriller does not reflect on past events. Instead it focuses on the future. What will happen? Will the hero survive?

The whodunit is an intellectual exercise. Using their mind, the detective solves the crime. Rarely are they in danger.
The thriller is a bodily exercise. Using their muscle and agility, the detective explores the criminal world. They are constantly in danger.


Fe atures of Thrillers

Thrillers tell well-paced stories featuring heroes always on the move. Characters tend to be flat as opposed to round, although the hero sometimes has a complex, multi-faceted personality. Readers expect an adrenaline rush that comes from wondering how the hero will escape danger.

Caught up in the action, the narrator describes an event and then rarely speaks of it again. Whodunits look backwards; thrillers look forwards.
Consider Killing Floor’s chapter transitions, specifically those that begin with an emotional metaphor for the previous chapter’s closing event.
How do they move the story forward without compromising the pace?


Re acher’s Anti-Mimetic Ways

Reacher has something in common with the typical Killing Floor reader. Like the intended reader, who fantasizes about being Reacher, Reacher spends his downtime using music to inspire himself. He uses art to discover meaningful models of behaviour.


Features of thrillers 2

Relying on specialized knowledge to complete their quest, the hero gives readers a glimpse into a secretive profession (usually associated with the military, police, law, politics, finance, or medicine).
In these worlds, conspiracies abound, with powerful groups colluding against a defenseless population.
Who can the hero trust? No one.


Mo st Genre Novels Are Hybrids

example ?


Crimes as metaphors

A metaphor is a representation of a thing or an idea through something else completely and literally different. “Men are dogs” is a metaphor. Metaphors recontextualize things and ideas, giving them new meaning. In crime fiction, the crime itself is often a metaphor for an underlying social problem.

What is the story’s literal crime?
What is the story’s metaphoric crime?


Reacher as a Capitalist Fantasy

Reacher tries to resolve the contradictory demands of our modern, capitalist world. A capitalist environment defines people as individuals who through hard work and specialized skillsets must sell their labour to the highest bidder, who must reject community-building and organized resistance in order to stand out from the pack, and who must use any means necessary to accumulate wealth and profit— even if those means harm the community.

On one hand, Reacher is a hard-working, highly skilled individual. On the other hand, Reacher works for no one and exploits no one. He seeks to empower the people of Margrave by liberating them from a greedy, profit-driven, corrupt organization.


Re acher’s Masculinity

How can Reacher save small-town America?
He can become the ideal man.
How does his narrative voice underscore his masculinity?

How does Reacher’s relationship with food reinforce his masculinity?

How does the novel’s portrayal of Roscoe support Reacher’s masculinity?
Compare Reacher’s final moments with Roscoe in Killing Floor to his final moments with the female lead in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

How does the setting support Reacher’s masculinity?

How do the failings of other men enhance Reacher’s masculinity?
See the character arcs of Finlay (p. 376, p. 511) and Hubble (p. 469).


Re acher’s Self-Idealization

In the second chapter, when he greets the uniformed woman, he doesn’t say that he finds her attractive. He factually states that she “was a good-looking woman” (p. 9).
What’s the difference?
And yet . . . is Reacher fulfilled?


“The Myth of Regeneration Through Violence”

American historian Richard Slotkin analyzes the stories that have given rise to myths surrounding America’s founding. According to Slotkin, from 1600 to 1860, through fictional and non-fictional accounts of European colonization of the New World, a myth emerged. The myth held that the violence of the early explorers, of the “Indian fighters,” of the traders and settlers, and of the Native Americans themselves played an essential role in the creation of the United States. In this mythical characterization of America’s founding, violence tames an apparent wilderness, allowing the European colonists to “regenerate their fortunes, their spirits, and the power of their church and nation.”

(job of early explorers to destroy the wilderness, for the europa colonist to make it their own ,)


The Myth of Regeneration Through Violence”

How does it play out in Killing Floor?

a way to justifying violence, that through violence wonderful thing can happen
p.511 - the violence was celebrated , it was welcome
lone detective, totally detached on the bus,
• the children above all cost must be protected


The Myth of the American Frontier

According to Slotkin, the prototypical American hero is Daniel Boone (1734- 1820), who became lionized in his time as a “frontiersman” who discovers himself—and, more importantly, what it means to be American—through encounters with “the wilderness.”
Boone revered and feared the allegedly untamed frontier.

He revered “Indians” as purportedly “noble savages” whose hunting prowess allowed them to co-exist with nature
He also feared their “uncivilized” ways, which he sought to overcome with the apparent virtues of European civilization

“More expert at their own arts, than the Indians themselves, to fight them, and foil them, [Boone] gave scope to the exulting consciousness of the exercise of his own appropriate and peculiar powers.”
-- John Filson,
Indian Wars of the West (1833)
(boone was more american , thats how he was able to defeat them
the violent side of boone , is what made him the ultimate american)


Zap, bang , pow
meaning ?

euphemism for violence,
a way to make it seem nice and friendly
bringing civilization to the new world , (through violence)

in the book (deerslayer), he engages in violent acts regularly


Excerpt from The Deerslayer, 1862

“Rifles have been sighted this morning, ay, and triggers pulled, too, though not as often as they might have been. One warrior has gone to his happy hunting- grounds, and that's the whole of it. A man of white blood and white gifts is not to be expected to boast of his expl'ites and to flourish scalps,” [Deerslayer said to Judith]. . . .
"You have been fighting the savages, Deerslayer, singly and by yourself!" she said. "In your wish to take care of us . . . !”

"Why did you kill the Huron, Deerslayer?—" returned the girl reproachfully. "Don't you know your
commandments, which say 'Thou shalt not kill!' They tell
me you have now slain the woman's husband and
” . . . [Y]ou must remember, gal, that many things are lawful in war, which would be onlawful in peace. . . . [The] brother brought his end on himself, by casting his
tomahawk at an unarmed prisoner. Did you witness that
deed, gal?"

"I saw it, and was sorry it happened, Deerslayer, for I hoped you wouldn't have returned blow for blow, but
good for evil."
"Ah, Hetty, that may do among the Missionaries, but 'twould make an onsartain life in the woods! The Panther craved my blood, and he was foolish enough to throw
arms into my hands, at the very moment he was striving
a'ter it. 'Twould have been ag'in natur' not to raise a hand in such a trial, and 'twould have done discredit to my
training and gifts.


the myth of american frontier

Captivity narratives—allegedly true stories about European settlers (usually young women) abducted by Native Americans— reinforced myths of Aboriginal “savagery.”

Slotkin: by resisting the “temptations” of a “devilish” culture, the captive returned to civilization a transformed person.

Ultimately, the white protagonists would model the American identity by measuring themselves against crude stereotypes of Native Americans.

(the person who's most savage , is better to survive in the new world )



Ki lling Floor is part of a long tradition of “hard, isolate, stoic” American male heroes who bring the story to a climax by heroically killing the enemy.
• Can you think of any examples? The setting in this case, however, is not the wilderness, but rather a small, corrupt town. Does the different setting help the author, Lee Child, avoid the racism of earlier frontier myths?

(if you kill the right ppl , you are creating a better world )

On the one hand: Killing Floor acknowledges that “America was never great” by telling the story of Blind Blake’s murder. On the other hand: the novel, by aligning the white hero with Blake, ignores his white privilege. Ultimately, through the story of Blind Blake, Killing Floor draws on the problematic myth of an authentic Other through which white heroes define themselves.


The Popularity of Genre Fiction

Genre fiction gives straightforward solutions to complex social problems. It avoids controversy by telling stories that offer agreeable outcomes to all parties.


" eating the other "

According to the social theorist bell hooks, white people seek to relieve themselves of “the guilt of the past.” Popular culture relieves this guilt by telling stories that emphasize the
white hero’s similarity to oppressed people of colour.
As such, the public’s focus turns away from the pain inflicted by centuries of racial domination. Instead, the focus turns toward the pleasure the white hero takes in adopting a racialized identity.


The Bi-Racial Buddy Narrative

“Hollywood’s fictional Black-White male friendships typically ignore institutional racism and its manifestations in employment, housing, education, and the justice system. Instead, buddy movies symbolically argue that racism is overstated and, more importantly, can be overcome through male-bonding (not incidentally leaving out over half of the population).”

(simple solution to complex problems about racism)


Love and Death in the American Novel by Leslie Fiedler, published in 1960

Fiedler argues that American authors are afraid to explore heterosexual love. Terrified of women, their male heroes focus their love on themselves and on their male “buddy,” with whom they have an intimate yet platonic relationship.