Lee Child is the creator of the literary character Jack Reacher, for which I will always be grateful. He also writes a lot of books, and they’re consistently good, so there’s another plus. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been frustrated by attempts to find an author and figure out which series they have written, and what order the books go on. So if you don’t be to be running into Wikipedia every time you want a list of Lee Child books in order, here are the Jack Reacher books in order with a brief review of each. When I have already reviewed the books, I’ve linked to my full reviews. I’ll revisit his other books in a separate post.
The first Reacher book, and was actually the first one I read. Like 61 Hours, this book begins with him getting off of a bus. But voluntarily in this one. He quickly gets thrown into jail by local law enforcement agents who may have an agenda. Soon Reacher is being pegged as the main suspect in a murder. He didn’t do it of course, and whoever blamed it on him will soon be very sorry.
If he really wanted to stay out of trouble, Lee Child’s hero would simply stop offering to help women. In this case it’ s a lady claiming to be an FBI agent. As usual, nothing is what it seems. A fantastic followup to his debut. This is when I decided I would read the entire series.
Lee Child is very good at writing great villains. Tripwire has one of the best: a guy named Hook who actually has a hook on his hand. The plot of this one is much like the others, but like I said, there is a bad guy who is seriously bad. Worth reading just for him.
(This one also gets called Running Blind. I still see it both ways in used bookstores)
Once again arrested because his psychological profile is a great match for a murder suspect, Reacher has to get himself out of trouble after two military women are found dead. When another woman dies in the same way, while he is in custody, he is released, but by this point he’s planning on solving the case himself. I did not love this one, but I won’t spoil it for you with my reasons.
After giving in to the temptation to help a woman who picks him up while he is hitchhiking, Reacher winds up in Texas playing cowboy. You see, the woman’s husband is about to get out of prison, and she’s worried about what he’s going to do when he comes home. Those events don’t disappoint, but took me in an entirely different direction than what I was expecting.
This book has gotten a bad rap from a lot of readers, but I liked it. It reminded me a lot of a job Jack Bauer from 24 could have been sent on. Reacher is hired to find the weaknesses in a vice-president-elect’s security team and protocols. As always, he is accompanied by a lovely woman, and as always, nothing is what it seems.
If nothing else, you finally get to meet someone bigger than Jack in this book, but it has other great features as well. Reacher is tasked with a group of unenviable tasks on the coastline of Maine, and gets a chance to settle an issue that has been eating at him for far too long.
This is one in the series that I would call a mystery rather than a thriller or an action novel. It also has an interesting take on war, and what a country would do with itself if there was truly nobody left to fight, and nobody to be protected from. A general is found dead in compromising circumstances. Jack is told to cover it up. He wants to know why.
My full review of One Shot
The Hard Way
Reacher gets hired by an ex-military officer (a truly nasty fellow) to help him find his wife and daughter. The wife is a trophy he obviously cares nothing about, and there seem to be some incongruities to the story. Jack goes along with it all for the money, and because it’s not like there’s anything else for him to do, right? The Hard Way actually made me laugh a couple of times, which was a nice change.
Bad Luck And Trouble
Of all the bad choices you can make, throwing one of Reacher’s friends out of a helicopter is way up on the list. He reunites with members of an old unit in order to sort things out. I easily put this in the top half of the series.
Nothing to Lose
Naming two towns Hope and Despair is a little heavy on the metaphor. This is easily my least favorite in the series. Wrongfully jailed (again), Reacher winds up tangling with a crazy cult, a bunch of intrigue surrounding the Iraq War, and more. This book felt to me like Child saying “Here is what I think of the war.” That is his right, absolutely. I just think it resulted in a story that didn’t grab me and themes that were distracting.
Starts out on a subway and ends up in a place that I couldn’t have guessed at. One of my favorites, with a couple of great female villains, a Senator who needs a good butt-kicking, and some more revealing glimpses into Reacher’s military history.
Jack Reacher gets off of a bus during a freezing South Dakota Winter. Involuntarily, of course. Someone arranged for the bus to stop there. Soon the hero is embroiled in another adventure in a small town full of bikers, inept cops, and there is a savage Mexican gangster named Plato who will be landing any time. Possibly my favorite in the series. (full review of 61 Hours).
Worth Dying For
I just got this at the library. Will have a review in a couple of days.
The Affair (released in September, 2011)
That’s it! Child writes a lot, so I’ll be back to add to the list shortly, I’m sure.
And if you love to read, I highly recommend signing up for my online book club. I deliver each month’s pick via email newsletter, providing you with a for-subscribers-only link to the review here on the blog.