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Lee Child Books In Order of Publication

lee child booksLee 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.

Killing Floor

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.

Die Trying

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.

The Visitor

(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.

Echo Burning

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.

Without Fail

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.

The Enemy

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.

One Shot

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.

Gone Tomorrow

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.

61 Hours

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lynn M. Smool April 17, 2011, 8:53 am

    Both my husband and I think that Lee Child is the BEST writer in today’s world.

    Awesome reads!!

    Thanks MUCH!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 17, 2011, 9:19 am

      You’re welcome, Lynn. Have you read his latest?

  • sam heller July 15, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Please do not let them cast tom the fairy cruise as Reacher. That would be a travesty.

    • John Dj August 14, 2011, 7:45 pm

      Right..Jack is 6’5″ and around 250# Hardly woose cruise size.

      • Lauri October 23, 2011, 6:13 pm

        I like Jim Caviezel as Reacher!

    • Reese August 30, 2011, 5:35 pm

      AGREED! Putting Tom Cruise in Reacher’s spot is like the stepsister trying to put on the glass slipper – It just doesn’t fit…I would be more inclined to watch any of the following gentlemen pull off this challenging role..even despite some of their ages/height since we all know Hollywood can work wonders on the appearance (It took years for anyone to truly believe that Rocky/Stallone/Rambo wasn’t over 6′: Jason Statham, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman, David Boreanaz, Will Smith, Matthew Fox, George Clooney, etc. – I’ve just finished the last book….waiting impatiently on “The Affair”

    • Reese August 30, 2011, 5:45 pm

      I think I’d add Gerard Butler or Ray Stevensen to the list of potentials as well..

      • richard August 15, 2012, 11:26 am

        gerard butler would be good, he was the one i was thinking of ….definately not tom cruise and absolutely not hugh jackman

    • Larry Nieves August 5, 2012, 2:20 pm

      I agree, Tom as Reacher does not fit…But am a fan and will have no choice but to watch!!

    • M. P. Morgan October 30, 2012, 2:46 pm

      You are so right! Cruise and Reacher have as much in common as a poodle and a pit bull!

  • Sherry Ursel July 18, 2011, 5:07 pm

    No Tom Cruise, I think Kevin Costner would be much better.

  • robyn July 25, 2011, 5:05 pm

    I think Ray Stevensen would make a great Jack

    • Josh Hanagarne July 26, 2011, 10:13 am

      Good call!

    • Reese August 30, 2011, 5:36 pm

      Sure – I would definitely add him to my list above of potentials!

  • Barbara Stevens July 27, 2011, 7:54 am

    How about Daniel Craig as Jack Reacher when he isn’t being Bond-James Bond

    • Josh Hanagarne July 27, 2011, 8:22 am

      I’m a big Daniel Craig fan, and since the Bond franchise seems to be stuck in limbo, I’ll sign off on this.

      • Cassie July 30, 2011, 7:34 am

        How about Jason Statham as Reacher? I just discovered these books a month ago and have read 5 of them. Just finished Tripwire and loved it. Thanks for the list – I want to read the rest in order.

        • richard August 15, 2012, 11:29 am

          i am jealous of you …i have read them all twice …they are all brilliant ….wish i was where you are at right now with so many unread …jason stratham wouldn’t be bad …still think gerrard butler though

  • Barry Hartman August 2, 2011, 1:17 pm

    I really enjoyed Worth Dying For. I’m really hooked.

  • eddie August 9, 2011, 9:51 am

    After I read his first book I was completely hooked.
    It,s almost like being hypnotised to get the next write.
    Just awesome,thilling and exciting,just can,t put it

  • Jan August 12, 2011, 7:59 am

    We’ve read them all, and will read all Child”s writes. Love Jack Reacher,,,,,,,and please, no Tom Cruise. Gotta be somebody rougher looking, like a younger Tom Selleck……….

    • Josh Hanagarne August 14, 2011, 8:48 pm

      My mom would agree with you there. Oh, she loved Tom Selleck.

  • Louise August 13, 2011, 2:39 pm

    Loved Worth Dying For. Did not care for Echo burning. Thanks for the list in order. I will be reading all of them. Have only read 5 of them so I better get reading. Love Jack Reacher.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 14, 2011, 8:47 pm

      No problem, let me know which are your favorites.

  • Rebecca Mauk August 15, 2011, 5:29 pm

    Just finished “Worth Dying For” and I have not missed one of the Reacher novels. This one goes along at a quick pace and I finished it in a day! Bummer for me as I only buy paperback and will have quite a wait for the next… I loved 61 Hours also but I am hard pressed to pick a favorite. However, it very well may be that Lee Child and Jack Reacher just keep getting better…

  • Rebecca Mauk August 15, 2011, 5:34 pm

    As far as someone playing Jack Reacher… it will need to be someone really really big… and not too handsome, as per his description. Perhaps an ex-NFL player or a real life retired Army Ranger? I mean, seriously, I can’t think of an actor who could do the role justice…

  • ron v August 17, 2011, 7:50 am

    Too bad we have to grow old ……… Clint Eastwood would have been a perfect Jack Reacher

    • Reese August 30, 2011, 5:41 pm

      Hi Louise – I just finished all his books to date and Worth Dying For was one of the best…I just finished the last one in the series and can’t wait til The Affair is released ….what didn’t you like about Echo Burning?

  • Mitzi Merritt August 23, 2011, 6:36 am

    I have read all of the Reacher novels with the exception of the newest one, The Affair, which obviously hasn’t been released yet. I read an excerpt from one you don’t list here, either, called Without Fail. Is it an older novel or a newer one you haven’t caught up to yet? Also, when will it be out? As I said, I’ve read everything of Lee Child’s about Jack Reacher and my husband I both are anxiously awaiting any more adventures this great hero has. Hurry Mr. Child!! We’re hungry for more!!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 24, 2011, 1:09 pm

      Without Fail is listed. #6.

      The newest one is coming out in September, I believe.

    • Mitzi Merritt August 15, 2012, 4:37 pm

      The Affair is definitely out-of-order!!! But, will someone please tell me which book they are making the movie about and the name of it, please!!!! I haven’t heard anything about the movie being proposed except what you guys say here.

  • Joy V August 25, 2011, 7:41 am

    I never enjoy great characters coming to the screen. What you imagine is I’m sure not what everyone else does. Reading about their exploits is so much better than watching them. And the pleasure lasts just a little bit longer! Thanks to Lee for inventing such a great character. Can’t wait for The Affair.

  • Kylee H August 27, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I bought a Reacher novel on ebay (I think it was from the UK) called Running Blind. Do you know where this one fits in the list? Also, any word on what date in September that The Affair will be released. It would make a great Father’s Day gift!

  • Jan August 31, 2011, 8:34 am

    Lee Child is theee best……..I’d like to see Liam Neesen as Jack Reacher. Loved him in everything he’s done.

    • Jan January 7, 2012, 6:10 pm

      Liam would be a WONDERFUL Jack Reacher. Keep your fingers crossed, people…….

  • Katy September 1, 2011, 9:19 pm

    The Affair is FANTASTIC. I think it just became my favourite and I didn’t think anything would beat out Bad Luck and Trouble!!

    • Tim V October 6, 2011, 7:06 am

      Agreed about the Affair. Great book. Up there with his best.

  • Jenny September 5, 2011, 9:48 pm

    Thanks so much for the compilation and well-done synopses. Bookmarked. And I’ll be back!

  • Charlene September 24, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Just started reading reacher books. Can’t put them down. Can’t wait till they make a movie. Tom selleck for sure he’s still got it. Or Gerard Buttler. Not Tom Cruise.

  • Hillary A September 27, 2011, 2:39 pm

    Lee Child is my new favorite author. Jack Reacher is truly a man’s man. I totally love him. I truly enjoy all of the books, and your reviews are great also. Tom Cruise as Reacher – ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!!

    • Josh Hanagarne September 27, 2011, 2:54 pm

      Have you actually read them all, Hilary? Do you have a favorite?

      • Hillary A September 27, 2011, 3:00 pm

        I am reading presently Nothing to Lose, I would say my favorites are Tripwire, The Hard Way and although you did not list it, The Second Son, that told us the story of young Reacher.

  • Jean Lewis October 5, 2011, 3:02 pm

    There is a wonderful short story called “James Penney’s New Identity” that Child originally published in 1999 and introduces the Jack Reacher character. In the story, a Vietnam veteran gets laid off from his factory job after 17 years, goes a bit crazy and burns his house down along with two of his neighbor’s homes. He runs away and Jack give him a new identity from a corpse he disposes of in the ocean.

  • Tim V October 5, 2011, 9:01 pm

    Great stuff. Reacher is a serious badass. Only rivaled by Vince Flynn’s creation Mitch Rapp or possible Jack Higgin’s Sean Dillon.

    I love how Child’s writes as well. So logical and to the point with great humor and perspective.

    Absolutely my favorite author!!!

    1) Child
    2) Flynn
    3) Follet
    4) Archer

    Oh yeah, and Tom Cruise as Reacher? Give me an F’in break. I won’t even see the movie if he gets the part. I could not think of a worse fit.

    • Josh Hanagarne October 6, 2011, 6:53 am

      I have yet to read any Flynn. I’m going to. Now.

      • Tim V October 6, 2011, 7:04 am

        You will LOVE Flynn. Mitch Rapp vs Jack Reacher would be an epic battle!!!

        Also, one I forgot. Check out Stephen Hunter (Earl Swagger series). He is incredibly good as well although a few of the newer ones are not as good. Time to Hunt, Havanna and Hot Springs are great.

        • Bette D. October 18, 2011, 11:41 am

          Jim Caviezel would get my vote for the part of Jack Reacher; the intense blue eyes have it.

  • Brian Blunt October 20, 2011, 11:26 am

    The best series of books that I have ever read, Ionly need one more to complete my collection/7 that is Nothing To Lose, keep up the good work Jack

    • Josh Hanagarne October 20, 2011, 12:53 pm

      Brian, have you read The Affair yet? I think I’m going to have to break down and buy it.

  • Karen October 22, 2011, 7:40 pm

    Hi I think Tom Cruise is totally wrong for this role. How about a guy called Conrad Coleby?? He was on the Aussie soap Home And Away and he has just the look, rugged, strong, but he is handsome too. I also like the Rock, except he’s dark, not fair. Or someone like Jack Bauer from 24?? Anyway I am a huge fan of Lee Child and just currently reading all his books from start to finish again. I have the Affair, but saving till last. Can’t wait. I don’t know that I have a particular favourite. I guess I love them all. Some are easier reads.

  • Ken H. October 24, 2011, 9:18 am

    My favourite? “The Enemy” and “Bad Luck and Trouble” in that order. As far as who might play Reacher, I nominate either Thomas Jane (from the film, “Punisher”), Jason Statham, or John Cena. Cena may not be the most talented actor (he’s still learning…after all, he is a wrestler first) but he has screen presence, and in the hands of a very talented director he could definitely pull off the role. He isn’t “too handsome” (either is Jack), and Reacher really is a man of few words when you think about it–many of the words in a Reacher book are explanation and detail, not actual dialogue. Some of the very best films have the very least dialog (think of Robert Redford’s role in “The Natural”).
    In any event, Tom Cruise is the absolutely #1 WRONG CHOICE for Reacher. Child, himself, says that it does not matter who plays Reacher on the big screen–that the most important thing is that the actor stays true to character. But, it is Child, himself, who constantly reminds the reader of Reacher’s size and weight, and Reacher often refers to his own size and weight by way of explanation for his prowess and strength. Obviously, in the case of Reacher, size DOES matter and Child goes to pains to make that point. I can’t help but find it a little insulting to us, his readers, that Child does not insist that someone other than Cruise play the part of Reacher, or else buy back rights to the movie version. I can’t help but hope that the whole Cruise/Reacher thing is a practical joke–at least I hope so. P.S.: Just finished “Persuader” and am going to read “61 Hours” next. Have read 11 of the novels so far. Also, where did y’all find “James Penney’s New Identity” and “Second Son”. They sound quite interesting.

  • debra November 25, 2011, 3:28 pm

    I just read The Affair. He regresses in this book. Was it written prior to Worth Dying For because in The Affair, Garber is still alive and Jack is still in the Army.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 25, 2011, 4:52 pm

      What! how was it?

      • debra November 26, 2011, 7:21 am

        It was great as usual. I was just confused because he seemed to go back in time. I cannot stand the thought of Tom Crud playing Jack Reacher. Ray Stevenson would have been a much better choice.

  • mitzi November 26, 2011, 8:37 am

    I agree that Tom Cruise is the absolute WRONG choice to play Reacher. I can think of a number of today’s actors who could do better. But, as to The Affair, it does go back in time, like it’s one that had been there for some time and just left on the shelf or something. I kept thinking that he would end it by it being a remembered dream or something, but that never happened.

  • allan January 3, 2012, 8:30 pm

    jason stratham as reacher, its a definate must, he got the bad ass moves too

  • vicky January 7, 2012, 3:01 pm

    Hi, just found your site! Got a kindle for xmas and wanted to know what book to read first! I stumbled across childs and Reacher in a Readers Digest book my mum had- Bad Luck and Trouble and feel in love with Jack. What film is being made? Whichever book even I -someones who only read 2 Reacher books know Tom Cruise wouldn’t be the best option!

  • david January 29, 2012, 3:02 am

    i agree this a great series.i am currently rereading the whole series and it is just as absorbing the second time around. he is probably too old for the part now but for some reason , i have always imagined brian denehey or someone in his mold, as reacher

  • Carl February 12, 2012, 7:16 pm

    Thats a tricky thing to claim. I do adore Child, and have read every damn one of his books and enjoyed them immensely…they have a surrealistic quality to them, along with all the kick-ass violence…(especially Nothing To Lose, and the one that ends up in the old missle silos) but I think the best writer in the english language is James Lee Burke.

    No insult intended to Lee, but there is a poetical and philosophical dimension to JLB’s books that sends me into another place deep inside my soul.

  • Bette March 4, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Have you ever read any of David Baldacci’s books? I just finished his newest and it’s very much like reading a Jack Reacher novel. The lead character is called John Puller; what do you think, maybe a nod to Lee Child and his main character? None of his other books went down this avenue, but this was a pleasant stroll for me. I recommend his other books for a good read right after Lee Child’s.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 4, 2012, 1:17 pm

      Bette, I haven’t. Do you have a recommendation for one to start with?

      • Bette March 4, 2012, 2:19 pm

        This particular book is called Zero Day; sorry I forgot to mention that. I’d recommend starting there and if you like his style, just go in chronological order with the rest. I haven’t read one yet that I didn’t like.

  • Mitzi Merritt March 5, 2012, 6:08 am

    I have read David Baldacci’s Camel Club series. If you haven’t read these, you are missing some really good reading. He and Lee Child are exceptionally good writers. If you start this series, The Camel Club is the 1st book and well worth the read. I will definitely be looking for Zero Day, as Mr. Baldacci is my 2nd favorite author,coming in right behind, but almost beside of Lee Child!!

  • Juanita July 9, 2012, 9:51 pm

    I am so majorly disappointed in Cruise doing Reacher. So wrong on so many levels. Joe manganiello would be awesome as would Gerard Butler, even Hugh Jackman would be better choices! Sorry…probably won’t see it. I have Reacher in my mind it ain’t Tom Cruise!

    • Josh Hanagarne July 10, 2012, 8:07 am

      I’ll probably still see it, but it’s going to be a Redbox.

  • Rebecca Mauk July 10, 2012, 7:03 pm

    Just watched the trailer for the movie. Not as bad as I expected but not fitting my idea of Reacher either. I probably would not pay to go see the movie, but like Josh, I will rent it for a couple of bucks! Disappointed in the choice… and I like Tom Cruise, just not as Reacher!

  • Ian August 2, 2012, 3:06 am

    Ray Stevenson has and will always Jack Reacher

  • deb August 2, 2012, 7:27 am

    I am sick to my stomach over the choice of Tom Cruise. Hopefully if they ever make another book into a movie they will pick Ray Stevenson. Did the producers even read the description of Jack Reacher. I will never watch this movie. The trailer was bad enough!

    • richard August 15, 2012, 11:51 am

      ray stevenson would be a good choice, or gerard butler, even russel crowe

  • susan davies August 5, 2012, 12:41 pm

    i may be wrong but i have been reading jack reacher out of sequence and i have just read the killing floor, now i have heard this was his first book and in it his brother joe dies, but i have read another book where he was with joe when his mother died and it even states that in the killing floor so how come this was the first book.. i dont get it am i missing something.

  • susan davies August 5, 2012, 12:41 pm

    i may be wrong but i have been reading jack reacher out of sequence and i have just read the killing floor, now i have heard this was his first book and in it his brother joe dies, but i have read another book where he was with joe when his mother died and it even states that in the killing floor, so how come this was the first book.. i dont get it am i missing something.

  • richard August 15, 2012, 11:46 am

    just saw the movie preview ….half of it is fast car stuff ….jack reacher is not a real good driver in the books by his own admission ….tom cruise looks like jack reacher’s lunch

    • Josh Hanagarne August 15, 2012, 11:50 am

      I noticed that. Speeding around and skidding in a muscle car. I suppose riding around on buses all day isn’t quite as sexy.

  • Mitzi Merritt August 15, 2012, 4:39 pm

    Which book is the movie???

    • Josh Hanagarne August 15, 2012, 5:03 pm

      I heard originally that it was going to be based on Killing Floor, but I have no idea. The preview didn’t give any real hints about the story.

  • Susie September 6, 2012, 6:59 pm

    I started reading the Reacher books a long time ago and I’m now reading them again. So awesome and hard to put down. We need to start bugging Mr. Child’s to make Ray Stevenson play Reacher in any future movies. Tom Cruise isn’t even worth seeing. Bad choice….Lee should listen to his fans and pick Ray next time.

  • Ian September 14, 2012, 1:46 am

    Check out Ray Stevenson in “The Other Guys” and “Punisher – War Zone” and tell me he wasn’t pre-ordained to play Jack Reacher.

  • deb September 14, 2012, 5:42 am

    We all need to write to Lee Child, flood his in-box with emails asking that Ray Stevenson be Jack REacher in any future movies. I’m boycotting the one with Tom Cruise!

  • Ian September 15, 2012, 1:45 am

    You ladies check him out (Ray) in the series “Rome”. Lee Child has sold the rights to Cruise/Wagner Productions, Cruise needed another franchise i.e. Mission Impossible, to extend his dying career as long as he can. Cruise stupidly should have taken on the John Corey character in the Nelson De Mille novels for which he would have been much better suited. If you like Child’s books you won’t be disappointed reading Nelson De Mille. Start with say, The Talbot Odyssey.

  • Lorilee October 3, 2012, 11:36 am

    I have read every Reacher book and am addicted! I think Robert Taylor from the new modern day western tv show Longmire would be perfect. I will not see the movie with TC because I think it will forever ruin Reacher’s image in my mind.

  • Mitzi Merritt October 31, 2012, 5:15 am

    I just finished A Wanted Man,n the latest book in the Reacher series. Read it soon, people, it’s absolutely great!!!! Since Cruise has been cast for this first move, and it’s due out on Dec. “012, I’m still going to see it, but I wish they had listened to his readers before casting. Liam Neeson would have made a perfect Reacher!!!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 31, 2012, 8:03 am

      Thanks for the review, I haven’t read Wanted Man yet. Can’t wait.