Books in chronological order

If you want to read the Jack Reacher books in the order they happened in Reacher’s life, look no further than this list. It begins with the short story Second Son, where a teenage Reacher is killing time on a military base in the Pacific, and ends with the latest full-length novel The Midnight Line.

Pre-army

1. Second Son – a short story found in No Middle Name

Ever wondered what early experiences shaped Reacher’s explosive career as butt-kicker supreme, the one-man guided-missile battler for justice? Lee Child looks back on an incident in his hero Jack Reacher’s teenage years as the younger son of a tough career US Marine, on a faraway military base in the Pacific.

2. High Heat – a short story found in No Middle Name

July 1977. Jack Reacher is almost seventeen, and he stops in New York on his way from South Korea to visit his brother at West Point. The summer heat is suffocating, fires are raging in the Bronx, the city is bankrupt, and the mad gunman known as Son of Sam is still on the loose.

Reacher meets a woman with a problem, and agrees to help her… and then the power grid fails and the lights go out, plunging the lawless city that never sleeps into chaos.

What does a visiting teenager do in the dark? If that visiting teenager is Jack Reacher, the answer is: plenty.

Army days

3. Deep Down – a short story found in No Middle Name

Early in his military career, Jack Reacher is ordered undercover in Washington, to discover which one of four women, all staff officers on fast track careers, is leaking secrets.

The suggested method: get close to each in turn.

The obvious problem: the most receptive will be the guilty one, with an agenda of her own… to kill the investigation – and the investigator.

4. The Enemy

New Year’s Day, 1990. A soldier is found dead in a sleazy motel bed. Jack Reacher is the officer on duty. The soldier turns out to be a two-star general. The situation is bad enough, then Reacher finds the general’s wife.

This stomach-churning thriller turns back the clock to a younger Reacher, in dogtags. A Reacher who still believes in the service. A Reacher who imposes army discipline. Even if only in his own pragmatic way…

5. Night School

It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’. For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big.

In the morning they gave Reacher a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school.

Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission. The Army pats him on the back and sends him to a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad.

Jack Reacher books in order6. The Affair

March 1997. A woman has her throat cut behind a bar in Mississippi. Just down the road is a big army base. Is the murderer a local guy – or is he a soldier?

Jack Reacher, still a major in the military police, is sent in undercover. The county sheriff is a former U.S. Marine – and a stunningly beautiful woman. Her investigation is going nowhere. Is the Pentagon stonewalling her? Or doesn’t she really want to find the killer?

Set just six months before the events of Killing Floor, The Affair marks a turning point in Reacher’s career. If he does what the army wants, will he be able to live with himself? And if he doesn’t, will the army be able to live with him?

Post-army

7. Killing Floor

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.

Jack Reacher8. Die Trying

Jack Reacher, alone, strolling nowhere. A Chicago street in bright sunshine. A young woman, struggling on crutches. He offers her a steadying arm. And turns to see a handgun aimed at his stomach.

Chained in a dark van racing across America, Reacher doesn’t know why they’ve been kidnapped. The woman claims to be FBI. She’s certainly tough enough. But at their remote destination, will raw courage be enough to overcome the hopeless odds?

Jack Reacher books in order9. Tripwire

For Jack Reacher being invisible has become a habit. He spends his days digging swimming pools by hand and his nights as the bouncer in the local strip club in the Florida Keys. He doesn’t want to be found.

But someone has sent a private detective to seek him out. Then Reacher finds the guy beaten to death with his fingertips sliced off. It’s time to head north and work out who is trying to find him and why.

Jack Reacher books in order10. The Visitor

Sergeant Amy Callan and Lieutenant Caroline Cooke have a lot in common. Both were army high-flyers. Both were acquainted with Jack Reacher. Both were forced to resign from the service.

Now they’re both dead. Found in their own homes, naked, in a bath full of paint. Apparent victims of an army man. A loner, a smart guy with a score to settle, a ruthless vigilante. A man just like Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher books in order11. Echo Burning

Jack Reacher, adrift in the hellish heat of a Texas summer. Looking for a lift through the vast empty landscape. A woman stops, and offers a ride. She is young, rich and beautiful.

But her husband’s in jail. When he comes out, he’s going to kill her.

Her family’s hostile, she can’t trust the cops, and the lawyers won’t help. She is entangled in a web of lies and prejudice, hatred and murder. Jack Reacher never could resist a lady in distress.

Jack Reacher books in order12. Without Fail

Jack Reacher walks alone. No job, no ID, no last known address. But he never turns down a plea for help. Now a woman tracks him down. A woman serving at the very heart of US power. A woman who needs Reacher’s assistance in her new job.

Her job? Protecting the Vice-President of the United States. Her problem? Someone wants the VP dead.

13. Persuader

Jack Reacher lives for the moment. Without a home. Without commitment. But he has a burning desire to right wrongs – and rewrite his own agonizing past.

When Reacher witnesses a brutal kidnap attempt, he takes the law into his own hands. But a cop dies. Has Reacher lost his sense of right and wrong?

14. One Shot

This is the novel the first Jack Reacher movie was based on so from a film perspective a valid place to start.

Six shots. Five dead. A heartland city thrown into terror. But within hours the cops have it solved. A slam-dunk case. Apart from one thing. The accused gunman refuses to talk except for a single phrase: get Jack Reacher for me.

Reacher lives off the grid. He’s not looking for trouble. But sometimes trouble looks for him. What could connect the ex-military cop to this psychopathic killer?

Jack Reacher books in order15. The Hard Way

Jack Reacher is alone, the way he likes it. He watches a man cross a New York street and drive away in a Mercedes. The car contains $1 million of ransom money. Reacher’s job is to make sure it all turns out right – money paid, family safely returned.

But Reacher is in the middle of a nasty little war where nothing is simple. What started on a busy New York street explodes three thousand miles away, in the sleepy English countryside.

Reacher’s going to have to do this one the hard way.

Jack Reacher books in order16. Bad Luck and Trouble

Reacher is as close to untraceable as a person can get. A loner comfortable in his anonymity and solitude. So when a member of his old Army unit finds a way to contact him, he knows this has to be serious.

In the past his elite team always watched each other’s backs. Now one of them has shown up dead in the California desert and six more are missing. Reacher’s old buddies are in big trouble, and he can’t let that go.

17. Nothing To Lose

Between two small towns in Colorado, nothing but twelve miles of empty road. All Jack Reacher wants is a cup of coffee. What he gets are four redneck deputies, a vagrancy charge and a trip back to the line.

No job, no address, no baggage. Nothing, except bloody-minded curiosity. What are the secrets the locals seem so determined to hide?

18. Gone Tomorrow

Suicide bombers are easy to spot. They give out all kinds of tell-tale signs. There are twelve things to look for.No one who has worked in law enforcement will ever forget them.

New York City.The subway, two o’clock in the morning. Jack Reacher studies his fellow passengers. Four are OK. The fifth isn’t. The train brakes for Grand Central Station. Will Reacher intervene, and save lives? Or is he wrong? Will his intervention cost lives – including his own?

19. 61 Hours

Icy winter in South Dakota. A bus skids and crashes in a gathering storm. On the back seat: Jack Reacher, hitching a ride to nowhere. A life without baggage has many advantages. And disadvantages too, like facing the arctic cold without a coat.

A small town is threatened by sinister forces. One brave woman is standing up for justice. If she’s going to live to testify, she’ll need help from a man like Reacher. Because there’s a killer coming for her.

Has Reacher finally met his match? He doesn’t want to put the world to rights. He just doesn’t like people who put it to wrongs.

Jack Reacher books in order20. Worth Dying For

There’s deadly trouble in the wilds of Nebraska – and Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it’s the unsolved case of a missing eight-year-old girl, already decades-old, that Reacher can’t let go.

The Duncans want Reacher gone – or dead. And it’s not just past secrets they’re trying to hide. They’re awaiting a secret shipment that’s already late, and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they’re just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world.

Reacher – bruised and battered – should have just kept on going. But for Reacher, that was impossible.

Jack Reacher books in order21. A Wanted Man

When you’re as big and rough as Jack Reacher – and you have a badly set, freshly busted nose – it isn’t easy to hitch a ride. At last, he’s picked up by three strangers – two men and a woman. Within minutes it becomes clear they’re all lying about everything – and there’s a police roadblock ahead. There has been an incident, and the cops are looking for the bad guys…

Will they get through because the three are innocent? Or because the three are now four? Is Reacher just a decoy?

Jack Reacher books in order22. Never Go Back

Drop-out military cop Jack Reacher has finally hitch-hiked his way to Virginia. His destination, the closest thing to a home he ever had: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th Military Police. Reacher has no real reason to be here, except that he spoke to the new commanding officer on the phone. He liked Major Susan Turner’s voice. But now he’s arrived, she’s disappeared, and things are getting weird.

Accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide and co-opted back into the army, Reacher says nothing. But he’s sure as hell thinking of a way out.

This is the book the second Jack Reacher film is based on – watch the trailer here.

23. Personal

Someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him.

This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child’s number-one bestselling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris – and then to London. The stakes have never been higher – because this time, it’s personal.

24. Make Me

Jack Reacher has no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so a remote railroad stop on the prairie with the curious name of Mother’s Rest seems perfect for an aimless one-day stopover. He expects to find a lonely pioneer tombstone in a sea of nearly-ripe wheat… but instead there is a woman waiting for a missing colleague, a cryptic note about two hundred deaths, and a small town full of silent, watchful people.

Reacher’s one-day stopover turns into an open-ended quest leading to the most hidden reaches of the internet, and right into the nightmare heart of darkness.

25. The Midnight Line

Reacher sees a West Point class ring in a pawn shop window. It’s tiny. It’s a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Why would she give it up? Reacher was a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.

All he wants is to find the woman. He’ll have to go through bikers, cops, crooks, and low-life muscle. If she’s ok, he’ll walk away. If she’s not… he’ll stop at nothing. Best advice: stay out of his way.

lee child's jack reacher books in order26. Past Tense

Reacher, the eternal drifter, happens by chance on the small New Hampshire town he remembers his father was supposed to have come from. But when he starts looking for his dad’s old home, he finds there’s no record of anyone named Reacher ever having lived there.

Coming November 2018.

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Prefer to read Lee Child’s books in the order they were written? Click here to find out where to start!

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