How to read Lee Child’s books in order
Best known under his pen name, Lee Child, James Grant is a British writer most famous for his Jack Reacher novels. In the books, the titular character is a former police officer wandering around the United States and solving various crimes and mysteries. With 28 books in the series and several other standalone titles, it might be a bit confusing to catch up on all of Lee Child’s books. Hence, we’ve come up with a list of all of them, and in reading order.
About Lee Child
Before we get into the books, we should first mention the author himself. Born in Coventry, Child has three siblings. Namely, his younger brother is also a novelist, and his name is Andrew Grant. He studied law at the University of Sheffield but never practiced it. Instead, he worked in TV and later started writing. His first book Killing Floor came out in 1997. He married his wife June, and together, they have a daughter, Ruth. Today, Lee Child currently lives in New York.
Publication order of Jack Reacher books
Since Child is best known for his Jack Reacher series, we should first list them before talking about his other books. So, let’s check them out, shall we?
How can I read this series chronologically?
Although it might seem logical to start from the first book, The Killing Floor, we suggest a different approach. Namely, you should first check out The Enemy, then follow it up with Night School, and then read The Affair. Only after, should you start reading in publication order. Why? Well, these three tell a cohesive story and are probably the best novels in the book series.
Killing Floor (1997)
While on his trip across the United States, Jack Reacher, a former cop, visits Margrave, Georgia, a small town in the Mid West. There, he’s looking into the death of a popular guitar player, Blind Blake, but stumbles upon a much larger mystery.
Die Trying (1998)
In Die Trying, Jack Reacher gets kidnapped alongside a woman in Chicago in the middle of the day. As they travel across America, Reacher and his fellow hostage realize the men who took them are looking for an impossible-to-make ransom.
A former military police officer, Jack Reacher gets involved in the search of a Vietnam War veteran who suddenly appeared on the streets, but now as a deadly loan shark. He is dangerous, and he’s keeping a secret for which he’s willing to kill.
Running Blind/The Visitor (2000)
Published as Running Blind in the U.S., Lee Child’s third entry in the Jack Reacher series tells the tale of a perfect crime. Someone is kidnapping women and killing them without any signs or clues left behind, and Jack Reacher is out to get them.
Echo Burning (2001)
Strolling without a plan across Texas in the heat of the summer, Jack Reacher is like a shark. He doesn’t care where he goes—he’s comfortable in his new drifter role. However, never in his wildest dreams would he anticipate someone like Carmen picking him up.
Without Fail (2002)
Published in 2002, Without Fail is Lee Child’s sixth Jack Reacher book. This time, the titular character is contacted by the Secret Service to find out who’s planning to assassinate the Vice President of the United States.
In Persuader, Jack Reacher’s past is back to haunt him. When he comes across an old enemy, Jack becomes determined to haunt him down and settle the score. However, as always in the series, nothing is as simple as it might seem at first.
The Enemy (2004)
In the eighth Jack Reacher book, Lee Child places his most popular character in the middle of a power game inside the U.S. military complex. Investigating a series of mysteries, he finds himself being set up as the fall guy by powerful enemies.
One Shot (2005)
Although Jack Reacher is aiding the prosecution of a former soldier who’s accused of several killings, he must switch sides and help him prove his innocence due to a series of clear-cut evidence that randomly shows up. On a side note, One Shot was adapted into a movie, starring Tom Cruise and it also featured the legendary Werner Herzog.
The Hard Way (2006)
As is usually the case with Jack Reacher, he has to do things the hard way. In Lee Child’s tenth Jack Reacher novel, the famous ex-military cop is looking to help a shady guy get his two children back from ransomers.
Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher doesn’t have much on himself except a credit card and the shirt on his back. However, none of this means that his past won’t come calling his name again. As members of his old team are being plucked one by one, Reacher isn’t safe anymore.
Nothing to Lose (2008)
Drifting from town to town, Jack Reacher reaches two new places, Hope and Despair. After altercations with people of both towns, he must fight off the two groups of locals looking to get him because he’s meddling with their plans.
Gone Tomorrow (2009)
After witnessing a woman take her life on the New York City subway, Jack Reacher becomes the target of several people asking him various questions that don’t make any sense. As is his nature, Reacher decides to solve the mystery himself and find out the truth about the tragic event.
61 Hours (2010)
When Jack Reacher agrees to help out a local South Dakota sheriff protect a witness, he himself becomes the target of a bloodthirsty biker gang. As things escalate, the man Reacher’s protecting dies and a powerful drug lord pops up looking to put an end to our favorite ex-cop.
Worth Dying For (2010)
The beautiful country of Nebraska isn’t kind to strangers, and Jack Reacher finds that out the hard way. First, he faces off against a deadly gang, the Duncans, after which he goes out looking for a young girl that went missing years ago.
The Affair (2011)
Although released in 2011, The Affair by Lee Child actually serves as the prequel to his first book, The Killing Floor. In the book, we find out where things went wrong for Jack Reacher as he’s investigating the murder of a young woman near a military base.
A Wanted Man (2012)
Hitching a ride to Chicago, Jack Reacher finds himself in the company of a peculiar group of people. A silent woman, a huge man with a broken nose, and a guy jabbering nonsense all the way. Can Reacher get out of this situation before it escalates?
Never Go Back (2013)
As Reacher heads back to his old military base, he finds himself accused by the new commanding officer. It’s fight or flight for him. He escapes and tries to clear his name, as the FBI agents and the army are just a few steps behind him.
Personal is Lee Child’s nineteenth book in the Jack Reacher series. In the novel, the titular character is up against a sniper who attempted to kill the President of France. All he knows is that the bullet was American-made.
Make Me (2015)
Once again, Jack Reacher is at the wrong place at the right time. In Make Me, he’s looking to solve a mystery of a missing person and save the day.
Night School (2016)
Just like The Affair, the Night School is directly connected with the first book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. It’s the 90s again, and Reacher is back in the army. Alongside two friends and fellow cadets, he needs to stop a Jihadist terrorist cell operating across the globe.
The Midnight Line (2017)
Jack Reacher finds himself in the Midwest yet again. But this time, he isn’t up against classic criminals with big guns. Instead, he’s facing a shady pharmaceutical company and their exploits of people dependent on the drugs they produce.
Past Tense (2018)
While following the sun in autumn, Jack Reacher is drifting across America. And while in New England, he comes across a road sign that leads him to the town his father was born. Should he go there? Doesn’t he always stir up trouble at places he shows up? Guess you’ll have to find out.
Blue Moon (2019)
A wanted man, Reacher is up to his old ways once more. In Blue Moon, an elderly couple owes some very bad people a bunch of money. Luckily for them, they come across the legendary ex-military cop who helps them in the middle of a mafia war between Ukrainians and Albanians.
The Sentinel (with Andrew Child) (2020)
Following the events of Blue Moon, in The Sentinel, Jack Reacher finds himself in Nashville, Tennesee, facing some dangerous men with dark secrets. The Sentinel is co-authored by Lee Child and Andrew Child and is the first in the series of books they wrote together.
Better Off Dead (with Andrew Child) (2021)
By now, it’s well established that Reacher never backs down. When there’s a problem, he won’t stop until it’s solved. However, this might not always be the best idea. At least not for him in Better Off Dead, where he comes across a crashed Jeep in the middle of an Arizona road.
No Plan B (with Andrew Child) (2022)
After witnessing a woman being pushed under a bus, Reacher is looking to find the suspect, who he only saw wore a gray hoodie and a pair of jeans. The problem is that no one believes him, ruling the case a suicide.
The Secret (2023)
In author Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher novel to date, the titular protagonist finds himself investigating a string of cases revolving around dead soldiers across the country. Although he’s told they are completely unconnected, Reacher sees there’s something that ties them together.
Publication order of Jack Reacher short stories/novellas
Here’s a list of Jack Reacher short stories and novellas by order of publication.
Second Son (2011)
The Second Son is a prequel to the Jack Reacher series, which provides us with an overview of what our main protagonist was like during his younger days. The story starts with an elderly WWI French veteran prepared to face death without his daughter seeing him.
Deep Down (2012)
Deep Down once again shows us what young Jack Reacher was. He’s in the Capital, working hard to find a mole selling American information to malign parties across the world. The only problem is that there are four suspects—all females.
High Heat (2013)
It’s summer and it’s very hot. But to make things even worse, there’s a loose cannon running around town shooting people, known as Son of Sam. Can Reacher deal with him while trying not to melt in the ever-growing temperature?
Not a Drill (2014)
Naismith seems like a quiet town where nothing exciting ever happens. However, the military police suddenly show up, closing it off. What’s going on, and what does Jack Reacher have to do with all this? You can find out in Not a Drill, another short story by Lee Child.
Good and Valuable Consideration: Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller (with Joseph Finder) (2014)
Jack Reacher and Nick Heller, a die-hard Sox fan, find themselves in a bar with a marked man. It seems like some rivalries are far fiercer than those in sports.
Small Wars (2015)
In Small Wars, Reacher is sent to investigate the murder of a female officer outside a military camp.
Too Much Time (2017)
While in Maine, Jack Reacher seems to be minding his own business. However, he can’t help but intervene when he sees a kid trying to rob an elderly woman.
The Christmas Scorpion (2018)
While on vacation in California, Jack Reacher finds himself escaping a snowstorm in the middle of a desert by running into a no-name bar where the snow is the least of his concerns.
Cleaning the Gold (with Karin Slaughter) (2019)
In Cleaning the Gold, Jack Reacher finds himself in Fort Knox trying to bust a group of bad guys running a dangerous operation in the middle of the most famous military base in America.
No Middle Name (2017)
No Middle Name is an anthology book series by author Lee Child. It contains two novellas, Too Much Time and High Heat, as well as ten short stories.
Jack Reacher’s Rules (2012)
Jack Reacher’s Rules is the perfect book for any die-hard fan of the book series. It features passages from seventeen novels as well as a lengthy introduction by none other than the writer of the books himself—Lee Child.
I Heard a Romantic Story (2012)
I Heard a Romantic Story is Lee Child’s attempt to break away from the Jack Reacher series but still remain in the same genre. The book is told from the perspective of a hitman who’s looking to assassinate a prince during a hot day in India.
James Penney’s New Identity (2019)
After being laid off from work, James Penney is worried that the bank will seize his praised car. As such, he goes on the run from the law, meeting interesting characters along the way.
The Hero (2019)
Lastly, we should mention The Hero—Lee Child’s non-fiction work that talks about heroes in stories. It’s an essay that examines what it takes for a protagonist to be the hero of the story while going through different examples throughout history.
Enjoy Lee’s stories with Speechify Audiobooks
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