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Jack Reacher, Lee Child's Unforgettable Character

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Peggy Cole is a self-published author who enjoys writing fiction stories, book reviews and articles about simpler times.

Jack Goes By His Last Name - Reacher

Jack Reacher, the main character in this Lee Child series, is not the enemy.

Jack Reacher, the main character in this Lee Child series, is not the enemy.

What makes Jack Reacher likable? It's probably not his wardrobe. He travels with only the clothes on his back, throwing the old ones away when he needs a new outfit after a few days of wear. His replacement clothes sometimes come from a second-hand store or an Army-Navy Surplus. He doesn't like baggage.

He's a man's man who goes out of his way to protect a damsel in distress or the downtrodden. Whether it's a child, a sister figure, or a stripper, he takes responsibility for setting things right when it comes to the vulnerable of society.

His powers of deductive reasoning rival those of Sherlock Holmes. He's a vigilante. Although, not a member of law enforcement, he pursues and punishes persons suspected of lawbreaking. He's an insubordinate, quick witted, well-traveled drifter, six-foot five and muscular with some nasty-looking scars earned in combat. He has an internal clock that tells him the time of day to the second eliminating his need for a watch.

Some of the Books in the Reacher Series

Jack Reacher novels

Jack Reacher novels

Killing Floor

Killing Floor, the first Lee Child novel, introduces Jack Reacher as a protagonist that takes no nonsense. The story takes place in the town of Margrave, Georgia, a clean, quiet, southern town. Behind the scenes, a ring of nefarious criminals run the town propping up the businesses with streams of cash.

Reacher arrives to explore the history of his favorite blues singer and is arrested for a murder. He's put in jail until another murder occurs and someone else confesses. When he's released, Jack steps in to help the understaffed police force. Eventually, a major counterfeiting operation is discovered and the bad guys are exposed and reap their just rewards.

The book and the new Amazon Prime TV series based on this book offer lots of action, from foreign hit men and dirty cops to old Southern charm. Stick around for the peach pie at the diner while this muscled, retired military Major battles his way toward the secret that, when revealed, changes everything about the town.

Caution: Harsh Language and Violence

In Tripwire, Child creates a heinous villain whose stock market profiteering and treachery stretches back to his time in Vietnam. He's the sort of criminal that lacks any degree of conscience or sense of decency. Throughout the mystery, the victims multiply and Jack Reacher comes close to becoming another body on a slab.

In a rare phase where he's actively involved with the daughter of his former commanding officer, he follows her into a battlefield where few make it out alive. Another page turner that keeps the reader spellbound, eager to see what comes next.

"Tripwire," a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child

"Tripwire," a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child

Reacher's preferred method of buying goods and services is cash. In his later adventures he's added an ATM card so he can easily draw money from his retirement pension. He has no permanent address where he can be contacted or receive mail. He doesn't own a computer or a cell phone although he understands how they work and how to use them.

He has no driver's license despite often finding himself behind the wheel of a car, an SUV or even a Humvee where he demonstrates driving proficiency. He tends to get arrested on a regular basis, but, thanks to his exceptional military personnel record, he is quickly vindicated.

He checks into cheap motels using the names of former presidents or baseball players, paying for one day at a time, carrying only his folding toothbrush as luggage. He drinks gallons of coffee and is a connoisseur of the proper blend, ingredients and most adequate vessel best serving the tastiest brew.

He's well educated, often borrowing philosophies from the greats of the past. He speaks of Zeno and laments of human kind's atavistic human fears; a feeling that "there's something out there". He claims to know the inner workings of the minds of soldiers, citing that their greatest fear is not death but of sustaining a grotesque wound."

He grew up mostly in Europe, the dependent of a military officer who traveled from one foreign base to another lending a desire to explore the continental United States as if a tourist. He's considered career military, growing up in a military family, then, joining the Army and working his way up the ranks to Major. He's experienced downsizing from the perspective of the military reducing forces. He saw the cloud on the horizon and voluntarily left a position of authority and power to become a vagrant with no permanent address.

A Formula That Works

Each of the novels by author Lee Child has the power to captivate the reader from the opening paragraph. These novels are true page-turners. His style is neither intellectually stuffy or pompous. He writes like most people think or talk, using sentence fragments and one-word answers. This could be one of the ways he draws in and holds the reader's attention.

Child's stories generally follow a basic pattern of events. Reacher is new in town, usually arriving after hitchhiking or riding the bus. He gets into a fight that he wins even against overwhelming odds. He's arrested and held in jail for a short period of time. Then he's released after the authorities run a search on his military records. Often, the local cops turn to him for help and advice tapping into Reacher's vast experience as a special investigator in the military police.

The author's style includes rich descriptive narrative like "Satellite dishes tilted up and facing southwest like a regiment of expectant faces." His words paint clear pictures, often graphic and detailed.

But why do people like Reacher? He's a hero. He's a man's man. He always does the right thing. He looks after the underdog in a story that spills out a web of intrigue that hooks the reader on the mystery right up front and fills in the gaps with fascinating detail and introspection into the human condition. He has a deep understanding of human nature.

Watching workers return home from a 12-hour shift, he sees the plight of the common man. "He saw hopeful boys with balls and mitts looking for a last game of catch. He saw some fathers agree and some refuse. He saw small girls run out with treasures that required urgent inspection."

He's flippant, self-assured, refined to an extent, homeless, and a veteran who is seemingly invincible when it comes to beating the odds in barroom brawls or against characters with superior size and strength.

Lee Child, a pen-name for the author James Grant

Lee Child, a pen-name for the author James Grant

Author Lee Child

Lee Child is the pen name for James Grant, born in Coventry, England in October of 1954. His first novel, Killing Floor, in 1998, won the Anthony and Barry Awards for best first novel. He characterizes his novels as revenge stories. "Somebody does a very bad thing, and Reacher takes revenge."

This author is also a talented TV director and the source for hours of television commercials along with a host of short stories he's penned. A lengthy series of books followed featuring the main character, Jack Reacher. You can find more titles on the official web site of Mr. Lee Child.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Peg Cole


Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 01, 2018:

Hi Peggy, I'm an insomniac so I read a lot late at night.These books keep me turning the pages into the wee hours and I've read many of them more than once. It made gift giving easy for my hubby who ordered these novels for me. I hope you'll try at least one and see it they suit your reading taste.

Thanks so much for coming by.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2018:

I have heard of the character Jack Reacher probably because of movie previews I would have seen but have never read one of these books nor did I see the movie. Now you have me interested in reading some of these Lee Child (James Grant) books. Thanks Peg! They truly sound interesting.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on December 07, 2017:

Hey there, Frank. Like most movies, the Tom Cruise version falls way short of the actual character who is not at all smug and condescending. Jack Reacher is six foot five which is a far cry from the actor's stature at five foot seven. I would have pictured someone like Chris Hemsworth playing the role. Thanks so much for the visit.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on December 07, 2017:

I've never read any of Lee Child's novels.. but I do remember seeing a movie with Tom Cruise playing his character ... maybe I should.. you have good taste in literature.. so yeah.. maybe I should

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on March 19, 2017:

Hello Flourish, Simply because of my nature, I started with the first of the series and progressed numerically through the books. Each one stands independently, although, some characters return in later books and their history might be a little brief to avoid redundancy. I was intrigued with "Killing Floor" because of the depth of false assumptions and misdirection that abounded in the little town. My favorites are where the story is from Reacher's times in the military, for example, "The Enemy." If you were to watch the movie, "One Shot," you'd find the book to be much better.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 17, 2017:

Although I'd never see the movie because Tom Cruise is in it, your description of the books makes me want to read them. I've never read any of them. Sounds like I've been missing out! Any suggestions on what book to start with? Or does it matter?

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 27, 2017:

Hello Ann, What a small world we live in. How interesting that you took training in Coventry where this author was born. I agree with you on the choice of actors in the films. I can think of a few who might have been structurally more suited to the part. Thanks for stopping in to share your thoughts.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 27, 2017:

I didn't realise Child was born in Coventry; I went to teaching training college there. I have read one of his novels but can't remember the title; I know I enjoyed it as a refreshing read and an intriguing character in Reacher. I don't think Tom Cruise is a good choice for the character in the film - not nearly tall enough and certainly not good-looking but then that's entirely subjective!

Great review.


Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 25, 2017:

Hello Bravewarrior, There are so many great books out there and not enough time to read them all. Glad you are intrigued by this series and thanks for stopping in to comment.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 24, 2017:

I must really be living in the dark ages. I've not read any if the Jack Reacher books. The movie trailers didn't appeal to me as something I'd watch, but books are always better than the film versions.

You did an excellent job of summarizing each book, Peg!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 16, 2017:

Hello MsDora,

Some of the content is pretty graphic at times. He is a one man killing machine as well as an observer. Be sure to close your eyes during those pages. Thank you for stopping by.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 16, 2017:

Hello Mar,

I understand what you mean about leisure time reading. Working seems to take most of our waking hours. There doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. Thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule to read this review. All the best to you. Peg

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 16, 2017:

What an interesting man and he must be quite an observer. Thanks for introducing him and his works. You encourage me to get a piece of him.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on January 16, 2017:

Dear Peg,

Another compelling review that makes me wish I had more time in the day to read books such as this - as opposed to text books and student papers!

I know Mom would have been hooked on these books - she read a book (or more) a week - as I will too 'one day'.

Have a peaceful week. Love, Maria

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 13, 2017:

Mike, I seem to remember that you like the Travis McGee series by John D. Macdonald. Me, too. Maybe that's why I like these Reacher novels. He's the same type of guy, winning against incredible odds. I read in the author's bio that Child was fired at the age of 40 due to restructuring. He rebounded and wrote his first novel, Killing Floor. A lot of his stories refer to the restructuring of the Army and Reacher's decision to get out before he was downsized. Life imitates fiction or the reverse. Thanks for stopping in and for the great comment.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 13, 2017:

Hi Nell, Glad to see you're a fan of the Reacher stories. The book is a whole lot better than the movie that I've seen so far, "One Shot," although, that's what got me started reading the novels. Thanks for dropping by.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 13, 2017:

Hi Jodah, The stories are truly fascinating and the fact that he can do so much with so little is truly inspiring. Thanks for coming by and for the kind words.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 12, 2017:

Great review of Jack Reacher books by you!

You have inspired me to read the novels. Although I have known the author through the movies. But I do believe that it is important to read the novels first then watch the movies inspired by the books.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful and interesting hub!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on January 12, 2017:

Hello Peg - What an interesting review. I only seem to be reading books by authors I know these days. In the old days, when I was known as a reader, these would have been just the type of stories I would go for. As you know I am/was a big Travis Mcgee reader. Travis and Reacher seem to have a lot in common.

Nell Rose from England on January 12, 2017:

I have just started watching the films so this is great! I tend to read late at night so may have a go reading these books first before seeing the films, great review!

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on January 12, 2017:

This was great, Peg. With Jack Reacher, Lee Child created a wonderful character. I don't know what it is but the fact that he is homeless, only has one set of clothes and virtually no possessions but can still do what he does successfully and fight corruption and the bad guys and win, makes him appealing. Yes, Tom Cruise was an odd choice for the role in the movie "One Shot" (I watched a rerun recently) but he did a good job I thought. I enjoyed reading this. Good job.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 12, 2017:

Bill, With all you have going on when do you have time to read? I mostly read late at night as I'm an insomniac. Either the book keeps me awake or it puts me to sleep.

I agree about the movie. I even debated about reading "One Shot" since I'd already seen it on cable. The book was a lot better than the film.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 12, 2017:

Thanks, Jackie. There are a number of the Jack Reacher novels that are truly fun to read. The movie was not nearly as good as the books, but then, when are they ever?

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 12, 2017:

I love Jack Reacher novels. I'm not too fond of the movies but that's mainly because of who stars in them, but the novels are among my favorite thrillers. Great reads!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 12, 2017:

Sounds like a great book and I would really love to catch that movie, too! Thanks for an interesting review!