Jack Reacher Books in Order
Is Reading the Jack Reacher Novels in Order Worth It?
Should you read the Jack Reacher book series in order? This is a question almost all fans of Lee Child's novels have asked themselves, including me. Child has said that reading his books in the order they were published is not important, but I have found that reading them chronologically allows one to establish a useful timeline that can be used to identify references to previous scenes and moments.
For example, the novel The Enemy will mean more to you once you've already gotten to know Jack Reacher. Being familiar with the main character from the get-go creates an enhanced reading experience.
Jack Reacher has become very popular since the first novel, Killing Floor, was published. Since reading this book, I have been hooked on the series and wait eagerly each year for the author to release another book.
Lee Child's Jack Reacher Books in Order of Publication
There are many Jack Reacher books and, while each can pretty much stand alone, reading the series in order allows readers to follow a cohesive storyline, giving them a better understanding of the main character's quirks and complexities.
- Killing Floor (1997): Lee Child's first novel of the thriller series. This is also the novel that made him a famous author.
- Die Trying (1998): This second novel of the Jack Reacher series caused me to become deeply involved in the life of the tormented hero.
- Tripwire (1999)
- Running Blind (2000): In the United Kingdom, this addition to the series is called The Visitor.
- Echo Burning (2001)
- Without Fail (2002)
- Persuader (2003)
- The Enemy (2004): Although published after Killing Floor, this story takes place before the events depicted the first novel. Still, readers should finish the previous books before diving into this one.
- One Shot (2005)
- The Hard Way (2006)
- Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
- Nothing to Lose (2008)
- Gone Tomorrow (2008)
- 61 Hours (2010)
- Worth Dying For (2010)
- Second Son (2011): This is a shorter novella within the series.
- The Affair (2011)
- Deep Down (2012): This is a shorter Jack Reacher story found only in ebook (Kindle) format.
- A Wanted Man (2012)
- High Heat (2013): This is a short novella.
- Never Go Back (2013)
- Not a Drill (2014): This is a short novella.
- Personal (2014)
- Make Me (2015)
- Night School (2016)
- The Midnight Line (2017)
- Past Tense (2018)
Summaries and Reviews
1.) Killing Floor
Killing Floor is the first Jack Reacher novel ever written. Truth be told, this was the first book I read. Once I got through the first two books, I religiously read each new book in the series.
In this very first book, Jack Reacher gets arrested for murder and one of the victims is none other than his estranged brother. If he is to regain his freedom, he must find out who really killed his brother.
Reacher is a very complex antihero and one that is extremely likable despite trying his best not to be.
“I'm not a vagrant. I'm a hobo. Big difference.”— Lee Child
2.) Die Trying
The second installment of the Jack Reacher series is full of action and suspense that will keep you turning the page until you reach the last one.
In this novel, Reacher and Holly, an FBI agent, are taken hostage. It seems they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ... or were they in the right place and right time to stop a crime from being committed?
In this novel we find Jack Reacher broke and working two jobs in the Florida Keys. By day he digs ditches and by night he works as a bouncer at a local strip club. He is quite content with this relatively peaceful lifestyle until he finds a private investigator by the name of Costello dead on the street. Costello had been keeping tabs on Reacher and, after finding him murdered near the strip club, the protagonist realizes his days in paradise are over.
Jack Reacher Official Movie Trailer
4.) Running Blind
In Running Blind, titled The Visitor in the United Kingdom, Reacher is under suspicion for the murder of two servicewomen whom he knew.
When a third woman is found dead, Jack starts his own investigation in order to find the killer and avenge the women.
The more Jack Reacher books you read, the more you will like this reluctant hero. In a way, he reminds me of Michael Connelly's character Harry Bosch, yet with is own personal style and charm.
5.) Echo Burning
In Echo Burning, our hero returns for another installment of fun, thrill and suspense. We find him hitchhiking his way through Texas when a woman named Carmen comes along in her shiny, new Cadillac and picks him up.
Of course, she comes with her own set of problems that only Reacher can fix. Her husband and the police are of no use to her, so, of course, Reacher saves the day.
All of these books are rather predictable in style, but they're so much fun to read that the repetitive plot doesn't take away from their quality.
“I know I'm smarter than an armadillo.”— Lee Child
6.) Without Fail
Without Fail starts with a bang: Jack is asked by the secret service to kill the Vice President of the United States. That's one request he doesn't get every day!
I won't spoil the fun by giving away the plot, but let's just say this book is filled with constant action and suspense.
Quinn, Jack Reacher's nemesis, is back. Reacher thought he had eliminated him many years ago, but it seems he was wrong. To kill him for good, our hero has to go undercover.
This is yet another book you simply can't put down. It starts a bit slow, but as it picks up the pace there are twists and turns at every corner.
8.) The Enemy
The Enemy takes place before the events in Killing Floor. The year is 1990 and a general is found dead in a hotel room in North Carolina.
While the cause of death is apparently a heart attack, it seems there's more to the story than meets the eye. Jack gets involved with the hope of solving the case.
This book is full of non-stop action, and makes for a fun and fast read.
9.) One Shot
In this novel Reacher is finally on vacation. He spends his time enjoying the sun and beaches of Miami with a gorgeous blonde by his side. But his stay in paradise doesn't last long. He must find a sniper who has ruthlessly killed five people at random.
While the killer is easily found, he pleads not guilty, creating difficulties for the prosecution. But Jack Reacher is yet again at his best, following leads, solving crimes and being his adorable, gloomy self.
Lee Child on Choosing Tom Cruise to Play Jack Reacher
10.) The Hard Way
Trouble always finds Reacher, especially when he's not looking for it. In this novel he is quietly sipping espresso at a café when he's dragged into solving a kidnapping case.
No stranger to violence, he uses expertise and charm to solve the puzzle. Sure, the story is a bit predictable, but it's just as enjoyable as Child's first novel.
11.) Bad Luck and Trouble
Jack Reacher is alone again and couldn't be happier, but this solitude doesn't last long. One of his old team members has been thrown out of a helicopter, leaving Reacher no option but to get involved.
He meets up with a few of his old teammates to investigate why their friend was killed and why others from their squad have disappeared.
For some reason, this book didn't grab me as much as the others. However, it's still a great read. Jack seems a bit more mellow and soft compared to his character in previous novels.
“Now they broke my toothbrush, I don't own anything.”— Lee Child
12.) Nothing to Lose
As usual we find Jack Reacher alone. This time walking on an empty road between two desolate towns because he can't find a ride. All he wants is a cup of coffee, but, otherwise, he's quite happy. This happiness is disrupted, though, when a band of thugs locate him.
This book was my least favorite of the Jack Reacher series. I couldn't relate to the story and found it a bit slow and dragging. It wasn't terrible, but I found that it didn't meet Lee Child's usual standard.
13.) Gone Tomorrow
After the rather disappointing Nothing to Lose, in Gone Tomorrow we find Jack back and in full force. This book depicts the return of the old Jack as we know and love him. The story starts with a bang: Jack is in a subway in Manhattan when he witnesses an apparent suicide.
But the suicide may not be quite what it seems, and Jack is drawn to find out what really happened.
This is one of Lee Child's best books. Jack is back and all the ambience and action we are used to has returned with him.
14.) 61 Hours
61 Hours has a good, solid plot that reads quite fast. If you're seeking lots of action, this book probably isn't for you. In this novel, Reacher is more preoccupied with running after clues and solving puzzles than getting into fist fights.
“I'm not afraid of death. Death's afraid of me.”— Lee Child
15.) Worth Dying For
Worth Dying For is a perfect example of why you should read the Jack Reacher books in order. This story takes place shortly after the events depicted in 61 Hours. Action, suspense, thrill and good old Jack are alive and well in this novel.
16.) The Affair
Chronologically speaking, The Affair is a prequel, coming before Killing Floor, but after The Enemy.
It is 1997 and Reacher is still in the army. We learn more about why he dropped out of the military and how he became the loner he is.
The story is set in a small town like many of the previous books, and Jack has to find a murderer while simultaneously covering up a scandal. This is a great read which I highly recommend.
17.) Deep Down
This is a shorter Jack Reacher story that takes place after the events in The Affair. Reacher's new assignment involves going undercover to find a spy who leaked information regarding a rifle the United States military is developing.
This being a rather short story, you won't find the complex character development of other Jack Reacher novels. However, for its size, I found it quite fast paced and well-written, which are trademarks of Lee Child's writing.
One bonus is that Deep Down is cheaper than the other novels because of its size, so it's worth getting if you want to read everything by this author.
18.) A Wanted Man
While the plot and style of A Wanted Man may seem a bit repetitive, it's exactly what the fans want. We are so used to the rugged Jack Reacher saving the world that seeing him do it again is extremely satisfying.
While this is a great read, I do agree with other readers that at times the repetitive plot can become a bit stale.
19.) Not A Drill
Not A Drill is a short novella, spanning only 52 pages, which is squeezed between Never Go Back and Personal.
I was not impressed–at all.
I love Lee Child's novels, but somehow the novellas, due to their short size probably, just can't achieve what the larger novels do. I've fallen for the trap before, yet I keep buying them ... oh well.
20.) Never Go Back
I was not disappointed by Never Go Back. Jack Reacher is back in action and depicted in the same style we know and expect from Lee Child.
This particular novel follows the events in 61 Hours, when Jack is trying to find Major Susan Turner, his new commanding officer, without any luck. He has his work cut out for him, and the action doesn't stop until the last page. I loved this book!
The army is different. Whatever else is wrong with it, you can trust your brother soldiers. And believe in them.— Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher is alone and on the road until he is called back into action by the military, being the only one who can stop a killer who has taken an interest in the president of France.
After reading this book, I'm rather glad the series is coming to an end. I think the author has run out of steam and can't keep up. That's fine, for he has given us some great books, a great hero and many hours of enjoyment. Everything good must come to an end.
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© 2012 Marika