The British author ‘Lee Child’, aka James Dover Grant.
Primarily known for his Jack Reacher novels, the author James D. Grant has been creating the long-running series for some years now. Focusing on his bestselling thriller franchise, he’s created an entire brand around the character, with twenty-three titles in the series so far and counting. Making a strong impression in the minds of many readers the world over, Jack Reacher is an ex-military policeman turned drifter, travelling across America and using his army taught skills to ensure that justice prevails. An archetypal hero, he’s transformed and evolved over the years, ever since his first inception all the way back in 1997 with his first novel ‘Killing Floor’.
A superhero of sorts in real-world settings, Jack Reacher has proven to be a highly successful formula for readers from all backgrounds. Spawning an industry around his name, Lee Child has gone on to see his work adapted for film, with Tom Cruise in the lead-role, and now television, with an Amazon Prime show in the works. The success of the series has seen Grant go on to receive numerous awards under the pen-name of Child, including the ‘Anthony’ and ‘Barry’ awards for his first novel, right up to the ‘RBA Prize for Crime Writing’ for ‘Personal’ in 2014. Prior to this he worked in broadcasting, being a presentation director for Granada Television, managing a number of highly popular shows before turning to writing in 1995.
As president of the ‘Mystery Writers of America’ Grant has become a mainstay within the publishing industry, writing in a style that’s been described of as ‘hard-boiled’ and ‘commercial’. This has proven to be extremely influential, along with other productions of his such as ‘The Chopin Manuscript’, a thriller that he created for Audible. When it comes to mystery thrillers though, he has many great novels to choose from in the Jack Reacher series.
Best Lee Child Books
In my own opinion these are the top five best books under the Lee Child name so far:
See at Amazon#5: Running Blind (2000)
Also known of as the ‘The Visitor’ in the UK, this sees a killer on the loose, having struck two women whilst in their bathtubs. Each found with Army issued paint, the only other factor connecting their murders is that they know Jack Reacher. Taken in for questioning, Reacher must now work with the FBI after a third woman is murdered, catching them before they strike again.
A taut and clever thriller, this is straightforward action that keeps the reader constantly guessing at every turn of the page. Building the suspense, this shows why Child is a master of the form, getting straight to the heart of what drives his character. With plenty of mystery too, the reader doesn’t know what to expect next, as Child is always one step ahead with the action.
See at Amazon#4: Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
Finding a deposit placed anonymously into his account, Jack Reacher realises it’s a signal that help is needed. With his former army team-mates in trouble, they hope to gain his attention with the small sum, leading to Reacher teaming up with Frances Neagley to save the day. Working against the clock, he must find a way to help his army buddies, all whilst sending a clear message not to mess with the best.
A fun and entertaining adventure filled with suspense, this depicts the friendship that Reacher has with his old army team-mates. Showing another side to him, the story really develops his character, showing the bonds that people build during difficult times. Getting to the heart of these relationships, Child portrays Reacher as a more fully rounded individual in the process.
See at Amazon#3: 61 Hours (2010)
Set in small town South Dakota, Jack Reacher is on a bus of senior citizens when it crashes, leaving him stranded there due to weather. That’s when he finds the town itself to be home to one of America’s largest prisons with some of the most dangerous criminals. Not only that, but a local woman has witnessed a crime by a biker, as the police and Reacher must work together to protect her, surviving the next 61 hours of pure nail-biting suspense.
Stripped down, this is pure action, taking a simple idea and really making it work, dropping the reader in the thick of it. Using a contained location it keeps the narrative confined to the town itself, making the most out of the location and the premise. Descriptive and visceral, the reader is constantly engaged, not knowing what’s coming next, as it fully pushes Jack Reacher to the limit.
See at Amazon#2: Past Tense (2018)
Heading to Laconia in New England, Reacher hopes to find the small town where his father was born and raised. That’s when he comes to learn his father never actually grew up there, leading Reacher to question his entire family history. Meanwhile, there’s a couple residing in a nearby motel following car troubles, and a rather creepy motel at that, where everything isn’t as it seems.
As a mystery novel alone this stands out, but as a piece of character development for Reacher too, it really is exemplary. Heading into his past, it has something for both fans and newcomers alike, as it poses a number of questions that the reader can’t wait to discover the answer to. With two intersecting storylines, the climax is phenomenal, creating a thrilling and exciting conclusion for the reader.
See at Amazon#1: Persuader (2003)
Seeing a man he believed he’d put six feet under long ago, Reacher witnesses a ghost, leading to him undertaking a mission to once and finally take him down. Unofficially working undercover for the DEA, Reacher must infiltrate the underworld, working as a bodyguard and hired gun the a drug dealer called Richard Beck. This sees him looking for the justice he was once denied, seeking redemption, and correcting a mistake from the past.
It’s not just the heroes in this that make the story work, but the villains as well, with the character of Paulie, Becks other assistant, being a formidable foe. Not a beat is missed in the story itself either, with the suspense perfectly sustained throughout at every plot-point. The character of Reacher himself is also brilliantly realised once again, making him the iconic and lasting lead that readers know him for today.
Best Authors To Read If You Like Lee Child:
Michael Connelly: Best known for his Harry Bosch series of thrillers, of which there’s a television adaptation of too, Michael Connelly is a huge presence in the mystery novel scene. Combining character with genre in a knowing and entertaining manner, he really gets to the heart of his subject matter, with something unique and different to say. Similar to Lee Child, he focuses largely on his central franchise, with many of the characters seeing spin-off series of their own along the way.
Vince Flynn: Writing the Mitch Rapp novels, Vince Flynn was an extremely prolific writer during his lifetime, producing a total of thirteen titles in the series during his lifetime, along with one stand-alone. The author Kyle Mills would then take over the franchise, as he still continues to this day, with more to come. Seeing adaptations for the big-screen, the eponymous CIA counter-terrorism agent Mitch Rapp would do whatever it took to ensure that justice prevailed.
David Baldacci: A bestselling thriller novelist, the American author David Baldacci has created numerous works and series over the course of his career. He’s also seen film adaptations of his work, such as ‘Absolute Power’ in 1997, which starred Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood. Similar to Child, his protagonists typically find themselves embroiled in conspiracies, setting the pace with both action and suspense.
Tom Clancy: Tom Clancy was a world renowned author during his time, essentially having created an entire industry around his name. Well known for his attention to detail when it came to the depiction of military operations and the technology used, he really allowed the reader to feel as if they were actually there. With films and, perhaps most notably, video-games, he created worlds for his audience to explore, filled with high-octane action and nail-biting suspense.
James Patterson: Well known for his Alex Cross novels, Patterson has created a large amount of novels during his writing career, many of these reaching the big-screen. With his Cross novels though, he is similar to Child and the Reacher series, as the franchise following the FBI agent has been running for some time now. Iconic in his portrayal of the resilient and intelligent operative, he keeps readers constantly guessing and coming back for more.
Best Podcasts If You Like Lee Child:
Saturday Live – Lee Child: Talking about his novel ‘The Midnight Line’, this interview with the author himself provides an illuminating insight into the creation of the novel and his writing process. Whilst the interview doesn’t make up the entire episode, it offers a unique and personal look into the world of Jack Reacher.
Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year – Lee Child: A more personal discussion, this sees Child chat with the British radio presenter Simon Mayo about a wide-range of topics. Looking at his life, it provides a fun and irreverent look into him as a writer and personality.
The B&N Podcast – Lee Child: An in-depth look into the character of Jack Reacher and what he means to readers worldwide. Child provides some fascinating analysis of his iconic protagonist and how he came to be.