This week will see the publication of the new Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child. It is safe to say that I am excited by this – Lee Child is now the only author I will buy on week of release (sorry Mr Pratchett, 10 months later and Raising Steam is still only half read).
I count myself fortunate that I found the first Lee Child novel (Killing Floor) around a month after it was first published. Hooked since day one I have enjoyed seeing the author’s popularity soar and the Reacher novels become bestsellers around the world. Lee Child writes books that I want to read.
His latest novel is entitled Personal and is the 19th Jack Reacher story. A review for that book will follow (just as soon as I can get my paws on it). In the meantime I thought I would put together a list of my five favourite Reacher stories:
In no particular order I recommend:
This is where it all began! Book One. Meet Jack Reacher, former military cop – our hero.
Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles down a country road into Margrave, Georgia. An arbitrary decision he’s about to regret.
Reacher is the only stranger in town on the day they have had their first homicide in thirty years. The cops arrest Reacher and the police chief turns eyewitness to place him at the scene. As nasty secrets leak out, and the body count mounts, one thing is for sure.
They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.
This is an explosive start to the series, a small sleepy town is hiding dark secrets. Reacher is there by chance but finds himself caught up in events . To clear his name he must track down a murderer but it is kill or be killed and Reacher is not a man to back down from a challenge.
The Secret Service are looking for Reacher as they have a job for him – to assassinate the Vice President.
Book 6 in the series. If you are looking to avoid spoilers then this one should really be read after Killing Floor. I re-read the Reacher novels on a regular basis and Without Fail is one of the books I return to more than most. A clever plot which is both tragic and funny, it gives a great display of Reacher’s investigative prowess too. A highlight was the first introduction to Frances Neagley – she crops up again in
Bad Luck And Trouble
When Reacher was in the army he headed up a unit of Special Investigators within the Military Police. This close knit team were his hand-picked elite and they watched each other’s backs. Years later the Special Investigators have all lost touch and gone their separate ways but someone has killed one of the team and now Neagley wants Reacher to reassemble the Special Investigators.
I cannot speak highly enough of Bad Luck and Trouble. This was Book 11 in the series and we get to see Reacher working as part of a team rather than acting on his own. Lee Child has set some of his novels during Reacher’s time in the army (The Affair and The Enemy) I would love another story featuring the Special Investigators.
This book (number 14) kicked off a story arc which did not end until Never Go Back (book 18). While each story could be read as a stand-alone novel it does make more sense to read them in order.
I found 61 hours particularly atmospheric. The story plays out in a very snow filled town in South Dakota; Child nails his depiction of a desolate, cold and isolated town shut off from the outside world by snow storms. The local police are guarding a key witness who is going to help them prosecute a drug dealer but resources are stretched can they trust Reacher (a stranger) to guard their witness? To Reacher everyone is a stranger – can he protect the witness?
Finally I have selected one of the books set out of the normal chronology.
The Enemy is a story from the days that Reacher was still in the army. This was the 7th book released but our first look at how behaved when he was constrained by the rules and regulations of army life. Politics and distrust of the Military Police are rife and Reacher has to find a murderer on an army base when all the evidence suggests that Reacher himself is the killer.
The Jack Reacher novels can (generally) be read out of sequence as most are great stand-alone stories. It does help to read 61 Hours, Worth Dying For, A Wanted Man and Never Go Back in that order. Also Killing Floor has a major plot thread which is best read before Without Fail.
When Lee Child was touring to promote One Shot I was able to hear him discuss his work and read from his new novel (he has a great reading voice). During the Q&A’s Child confirmed that Reacher does grow older and the books do see him aging. This was around 10 years ago and later books do address Reacher getting older. However, one statement worried and saddened me…
When discussing the future of the character Child confirmed that Reacher would not go on forever. He suggested that one day there may be a book in which Jack Reacher would be killed off – provisional title on that evening in Glasgow was Die Lonely.
Ten years down the line and Reacher is still going strong – I hope it does so for many years to come.