Jack Reacher Books in Order to Read: How to read Lee Child’s series?

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In the books, published since 1997, Jack Reacher is the fictional protagonist of stories written by British author Lee Child.

A former major in the U.S. Army’s Military Police, Jack Reacher now roams the country with little more than the clothes on his back and a toothbrush. In order to assist people in need and solve mysteries, Reacher employs his intellect, athletic prowess, and sense of justice. While seeking justice, he frequently encounters perilous situations, different criminal elements, and corrupt people.

The Jack Reacher series has been adapted as two films starring Tom Cruise and as a television series on Amazon Prime Video, starring Alan Ritchson.

How to read the Jack Reacher Books in order?

The Jack Reacher series may be read in one of three different ways. The first is the easiest; you can take a book at random. The second is to stick to the order of publication. The third option is the chronological order, which is available at the bottom of this article.

  1. Killing Floor – Georgia’s Margrave is a small unincorporated community. In quest of a deceased guitar player, Jack Reacher boards a bus and travels 14 kilometers on foot through the rain to get there. However, Margrave just experienced its first homicide in 30 years. Reacher is the sole outsider in the community. He appears like the logical culprit. Only one thing is certain as the death toll rises: they chose the wrong man to accuse of murder.
  2. Die Trying – A street in Chicago on a beautiful day. On crutches, a young woman is struggling. Reacher extends a supporting arm to her. A pistol is pointed at his stomach as he turns to see. Reacher is chained up in a dark vehicle speeding across America and has no idea why they were abducted. The woman identifies herself as FBI. She has more than what it takes for the job. Will bare courage be sufficient to beat the impossible odds when they arrive at his destination?
  3. Tripwire – Reacher’s life in Key West is flipped upside down when a stranger comes searching for him. This stranger later shows up dead in the Old Town cemetery and takes Reacher on a dangerous path to New York, where he encounters a seductive former lover and a lethal foe.
  1. Running Blind aka The Visitor – Lieutenant Caroline Cooke and Sergeant Amy Callan have a lot in common. Both women excelled in the service and were familiar with Jack Reacher. Both were also compelled to leave the military. And now, both are deceased. They were discovered naked in a painted bathtub in their own houses. Alleged victims of an army soldier, a lonesome vigilante who is intelligent and has a score to settle. A man who is just like Jack Reacher.
  2. Echo Burning – Jack Reacher is lost in the scorching Texas summer heat. Through the huge, desolate terrain, seeking a boost. A woman stops and offers to give him a ride. She is young, pretty, and wealthy. But her spouse is locked up. He’s going to murder her when he emerges. She can’t trust the police, her family is hostile, and the attorneys won’t do anything to aid. She is caught in a web of deceit, bigotry, homicidal intent, and falsehoods. Reacher was unable to resist a woman in need.
  3. Without Fail – Jack Reacher is the ideal candidate for the job of killing the vice president of the United States because he is skilled, cunning, and nameless. Theoretically. Reacher is asked to uncover the gaps in her system as soon as possible by the head of a high-level Secret Service protection detail. The vice president is already in the crosshairs of a bunch of desperate guys. And it will do whatever it takes to achieve its goal. The murderers have done their planning. But they didn’t anticipate Jack Reacher.
  1. Persuader – Jack Reacher had the misfortune of meeting Quinn, who was one of the worst men he had ever met. He had committed atrocious crimes. Reacher was happy to learn Quinn had passed away. Until the day he spotted someone who remarkably resembled him riding in a limousine outside Boston’s Symphony Hall. Reacher teams up with the DEA to penetrate a smuggling ring in order to get back at Quinn.
  2. The Enemy – New Year’s Day, 1990. The body of a two-star general is discovered at a hotel in North Carolina. His briefcase has disappeared. Nobody is aware of its contents. Reacher receives his orders: Take care of the situation. The general’s wife is killed shortly after. Then the dominoes start to fall seriously. Two Special Forces guys are eliminated one at a time. Leading military officers are moved across the board in a strange game of chess. And Jack Reacher is being set up as a fall guy by his fiercest foes somewhere inside the immense global fortress that is the US Army.
  3. One Shot – Six shots. Five dead. One city in the Midwest was plunged into horror. However, the police have it solved within hours; it’s a slam-dunk case. Except that the suspect tells them they’ve got the wrong guy. and then adds a request: “Get Reacher for me.” Jack Reacher is on his way. He is familiar with the shooter, a skilled military sniper who shouldn’t have missed a shot. Reacher is convinced that something is wrong, and the easy case rapidly blows up. Now that Reacher is working with a young defense attorney, he is getting closer to the unknown foe who is manipulating events.
  1. The Hard Way – In an electrifying New York City night, Jack Reacher was alone, just the way he loved it, taking it all in while observing a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. Edward Lane, the guy who paid the ransom, would do everything to bring his family back, therefore the automobile was loaded with a million dollars. Lane has a very illegal business providing troops for rent. He will employ every means necessary to locate his lovely wife and child. The best manhunter in the world is Jack Reacher.
  2. Bad Luck and Trouble – Reacher was located by a woman from his previous military unit using a signal that could only be known by their special squad. She informs him about the horrible killing of a member of their own group. They quickly find out about the unexpected deaths of two more teammates. They best be prepared for what comes back at them when Jack Reacher and his squad are targeted.
  3. Nothing to Lose – Colorado has two isolated towns: Hope and Despair. Twelve miles of deserted road separated them. Reacher never goes back, as they say. It’s not who he is. He only needs a cup of coffee. He ends up in serious difficulty. Reacher fights a town that wants him dead in addition to having him removed from it.
  1. Gone Tomorrow – New York City. It is two in the morning. a subway vehicle moving upwards. Jack Reacher and five other travelers. Four is fine. The fifth one isn’t. Susan Mark, the fifth passenger, had a significant secret, and scores of people were keeping an eye on her ordinary, everyday life in Washington, California, and Afghanistan-all while lying to Reacher. a tiny bit. A lot. Or just enough to kill him. With trained, brutal troops on all sides of a shadow war, a race has started through the streets of Manhattan. The goal is reached for Jack Reacher, a man who distrusts everyone and enjoys it that way, when you eventually meet your deadliest adversary.
  2. 61 Hours – In South Dakota, winter. slippery roads, blowing snow, and a worn-out driver. A bus slides, collides, and becomes stuck in a developing storm. Twenty miles away, in a tiny village, a vulnerable witness is constantly watched upon. Five miles further, in the middle of the plains, there is a peculiar stone edifice and a vicious guy in charge of everything.
    The bus’s rear seat was taken by Jack Reacher. The benefits of living without baggage are numerous. And significant drawbacks as well, such as having to brave the frigid cold without a coat. He is prepared for the rest of his work, though. He has no desire to make the world perfect. He just dislikes those who use it for wrongs.
  3. Worth Dying For – Reacher arrives in a rural Nebraska town where he overhears a drunk doctor’s refusal to attend to a victim of domestic abuse. Reacher intervenes and end up embroiled in a smuggling ring and an unsolved disappearance from twenty-five years prior.
  1. The Affair – March 1997. A soldier’s girlfriend who has had her throat sliced from ear to ear is discovered in a little Mississippi town, and Jack Reacher, still in the army, discovers problems there. Reacher must ascertain if the murderer is a local or a resident of Fort Kelham nearby. For the investigation, he needs to go undercover.
  2. A Wanted Man – Jack Reacher was only looking for a trip to Virginia. He quickly realizes that he has taken more than just a ride. He has joined a vast conspiracy in which no one is speaking the truth and nothing is as it seems.
  3. Never Go Back – From snowbound South Dakota, Jack Reacher makes it all the way to the 110th MP headquarters in northern Virginia, close to Washington, D.C. The ancient stone structure is the closest thing he has ever had to a home. Reacher is there to meet Major Susan Turner, the new commanding officer, who has only been heard on the phone as a kind, captivating voice. Turner isn’t, however, seated at the CO’s desk. Additionally, two disturbing pieces of information-one with grave criminal repercussions and the other too private to even consider-are sent to Reacher. You have the option of fleeing or engaging in combat when threatened. Reacher doesn’t back down.
  1. Personal – Jack Reacher is on his own. He was formerly the go-to tough guy in the US military police but is now a nomad without a set address. However, the army finds him. because the French president has been the target of a long-range shooting. It could only have been done by one man. And only Reacher is capable of locating him.
  2. Make Me – An isolated train halt on the prairie with the odd name of Mother’s Rest looks like the ideal destination for Jack Reacher to spend an aimless day since he has nowhere to go and plenty of time to get there. Instead, he discovers a woman waiting for a missing colleague, a mysterious letter concerning two hundred fatalities, and a little town full of somber, wary people. Reacher’s brief visit turns into an extended journey…deep into the pit of evil.
  3. Night School – Early 1996. Reacher remains a soldier. He receives a medal in the morning, then in the afternoon, he is sent back to school. A CIA analyst and an FBI agent are the other men present in the classroom. Each is a top-notch operator who just experienced a significant triumph, and each is unsure about their purpose at that location. Then they learn that a Saudi courier looking for refuge while awaiting a meeting with unidentified people visited a Jihadist sleeper cell in Hamburg, Germany. The courier was recorded whispering a terrifying message to a CIA asset: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.” what reason? And from whom?
  1. The Midnight Line – Reacher goes out on a stroll when he notices a class ring in a pawn shop window that reads: West Point 2005. Afghanistan and Iraq make for a challenging graduation year. The ring is rather little for a lady, and it is inscribed with her initials. Reacher wonders what unfortunate event caused her to give up what she worked so hard for for four years. He chooses to investigate. discover the women, too. and give her ring back.
  2. Past Tense – Jack Reacher intends to take a long journey across America, from Maine to California, in the direction of the sun. But he comes across a sign pointing to a location he has never been before on a remote road deep in the New England woods: the town where his father was born. What’s one additional day, he asks himself? He chooses to go around. The next morning, Reacher inquires about the old family house in the municipal clerk’s office. He’s been informed that the town has never been home to a Reacher. Reacher has always known that his father departed and never came back, but now he questions whether he was ever actually present.
  3. Blue Moon – Two warring criminal gangs vie for power in an unnamed city. But they hadn’t anticipated Jack Reacher’s arrival on their turf. Reacher has been trained to detect details. He’s on a Greyhound bus, observing an old guy sleep in his seat while carrying a large sum of cash in his pocket. Another passenger is watching as well, expecting to strike it rich soon. Reacher intervenes as the mugger makes his move. The old guy is thankful, but he declines Reacher’s offer to drive him home. He’s defenseless, terrified, and obviously in huge, big danger.
  1. The Sentinel – Jack Reacher exits the bus at a small no-name hamlet just outside Nashville, Tennessee. He intends to have a cup of coffee and get moving. That is not going to happen. A cyber assault has brought the town to a halt. Rusty Rutherford is at the center of it all, whether he likes it or not. He’s a typical IT guy, but he knows a lot more than he realizes. As the bad guys close in on Rusty, Reacher moves in closer…
  2. Better Off Dead – Jack Reacher was going west that morning, under the brutal desert sun, when he came across a strange spectacle. A Jeep has collided with a tree. A lady is hunched over the steering wheel. Michaela Fenton is an army veteran turned FBI agent who is looking for her twin brother, who may be involved with some deadly individuals. The majority of them would sooner die than betray their fearsome master. Dendoncker reigns from the shadows, out of sight and beneath the radar, keeping his transactions hidden. He’d find out what happened to Fenton’s brother. Reacher is adept at tracking down those who don’t want to be tracked down, so he offers to assist.
  3. No Plan B – A lady is killed under the wheels of a moving bus in Gerrardsville, Colorado. The cause of death has been determined to be suicide. But Jack Reacher witnessed what actually occurred: a guy in a gray sweatshirt and trousers moved discreetly and shoved the victim to her death-before quickly snatching the deceased woman’s pocketbook and strolling away. When another killing is considered an accident, Reacher realizes it is not by chance. With a serial murderer on the run, Reacher has no time to spend pursuing those responsible.
  1. The Secret – Chicago. 1992. A hospital patient awakens to discover two strangers standing next to his bed. They provide him with a list of names and pose a simple but difficult inquiry. Minutes later, he falls to his death from his twelfth-floor window, attracting unwelcome attention. The Secretary of Defense has called for an inter-agency task team to conduct an investigation. Jack Reacher is designated as the Army’s representative after being demoted from Major. Great if he gets a result. If not, he’s a handy fall man.

Jack Reacher’s Chronological Reading Order

And now, the chronological order. I included the short stories. You can find them in No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories book.

  1. Second Son (short story)
  2. High Heat (novella)
  3. Deep Down (short story)
  4. Small Wars (short story)
  5. James Penney’s New Identity (short story)
  6. The Enemy
  7. The Secret (TBC)
  8. Night School
  9. The Affair
  10. Killing Floor
  11. Die Trying
  12. Tripwire
  13. Running Blind
  14. Echo Burning
  15. Without Fail
  16. Persuader
  17. One Shot
  18. The Hard Way
  19. Bad Luck and Trouble
  20. Nothing to Lose
  21. Guy Walks into a Bar… (short story)
  22. Gone Tomorrow
  23. 61 Hours
  24. Worth Dying For
  25. A Wanted Man
  26. Everyone Talks (short story)
  27. Never Go Back
  28. Not a Drill (short story)
  29. Personal
  30. Good and Valuable Consideration (short story)
  31. The Picture of the Lonely Diner (short story)
  32. No Room at the Motel (short story)
  33. Make Me
  34. The Midnight Line
  35. Maybe they Have a Tradition (short story)
  36. Too Much Time (short story)
  37. Faking a Murderer (short story with Temperance Brennan)
  38. The Christmas Scorpion (short story)
  39. Past Tense
  40. The Fourth Man (short story)
  41. Cleaning the Gold (short story with Will Trent)
  42. Smile (short story)
  43. Blue Moon
  44. The Sentinel
  45. Better Off Dead
  46. No Plan B

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  1. I just love Jack Reacher to the point I cant put it down once I start reading! 48 hrs and I’m looking to read the next one!!! Always exciting now going backwards and reading the early ones 🙂 61 hours is my favourite as I live in canada now not far from Dokota….so want to visit because of his books!also went to New York and could picture where he was talking about…rough lol fabulous author!

    1. I read them. One of my former clients does as well. He characterized them as “special, to be savored”!

    2. I’ve heard the line “ Jack Reacher. Men want to be him, women want to be with him”.. I tend to agree.
      I find Lee Child’s writing absolutely enthralling. I had never been a big reader but my partner put me onto the Jack Reacher books as her and her family had read and loved them. I now binge read them and can knock one over in a weekend.
      So yes “dudes” do read them, not just “chicks”.

  2. I am reading Jack Reacher in chronological order but I’m not sure where his last book Past Tense will fit in. Does anyone have an idea?

    1. It is book 24 out of 25 if read in sequence. Go to internet and ask for reading order.

    2. According to the lists I have read, Past Tense is book 24 and in reading order it is book 39.

    3. Hi…
      Its 35th…if you put the short stories into it…of 40 total, including “the sentinel “

    4. Past Tense falls between The Midnight Line and Blue Moon, ie.: The Midnight Line, Past Tense, Blue Moon.

  3. Tommy was hilarious as Reacher. Any similarity to Reacher was the best comedy of the year. When will Hollywood ever pick a person who fits the author’s description and the readers vision?

    1. I will never watch the movie version until they cast someone who fits the author’s description of Reacher.

    2. I thought the same thing about Tom Cruise. Nothing like the description of reacher however he actually did justice to the book but still hard time with his small stature That was first film. Second, not so much

    3. I think they should go with an “Unknown” actor to play Jack Reacher next time. Nobody will ever be happy with who Hollywood picks. (Tom Cruise was just a joke) If not, try looking at Tom Hopper, has the height, and when bulked up – oh la la……

    4. Right on….TC probably got the job because he was the producer…I always envision Duane (the Rock) Johnson in the Reacher role.

    5. Tom Cruise bought the movie rights to the Lee Child / Jack Reacher books in which Cruise appears / appeared. Wouldn’t see it, as it would be too big a “reach.”

  4. Next Book:
    24. Blue Moon – coming October 2019

    BTW, I thout Tom Cruise did a good job of playing reacher, I enjoyed the movies.

    1. I mean yes Tom wasn’t a perfect choice to play this character. but still he did a great job acting wise, he did justice to the character (he did all the physical stunts which is a huge thing for a guy in his 50s, people should respect his dedication) considering he purchased the rights, he assembled a team of writer and directors. it shows that he was really passionate about this project. the first movie’s director Christopher Macquarrie also said that they were planning to make the third Reacher movie hard r-rated but before they could do anything Lee Child pulled off the rights. it’s a shame, a r-rated Reacher would been really cool to see.

      anyways. I think Joel Kinnaman or Armie Hammer would been great to play this character.

      though Dolph Lundgren would been the most accurate Reacher, if only he was young

  5. This list is inaccurate. You left out 2 short stories included in the anthology book “No Room at the Motel” and “The Picture of the Lonely Diner”. Where do those two books fit into your list? Also, there are 2 short stories not included in the anthology (but both are included in your list) because they are co-written with other authors; “Good and Valuable Consideration” with Joseph Finder; and “Faking a Murderer” with Kathy Reichs, NOT Temperance Brennan. Thank you for the almost complete list. Great work.

  6. Never read any book twice will begin to re-read all Jack Reacher books again. Best compliment I can pay to Lee Child

    1. Same here. After seeing him with his wife recently on TV combined with some free time, revisiting these amazing riveting readd

    2. I am about to start reading ALL of Jack Reacher books in order INCLUDING the short stories in their place to see if it makes it any

  7. Agree that Tom Cruise was wrong choice.Liam Neeson or Stratham for size maybe better.First movie ok but the second did not follow the book at all.Have read everyone at least twice and now look to see which would make a good movie.Michelle Rodriguez for Frances Neagly.

  8. I now have all 24 books some in paper back others in hard back .
    I spoke some years ago about the film industry casting Tom Cruise as Jack your reply was that once a book has been sold for filming you have no control over which actor plays the part of Jack…the general public had the last say .Thank goodness. I would suggest that you , Lee Childs / Jim Grant plays the part….What about it ?

  9. Do you have an opinion on where the hunt for Jack Reacher books by Diane Capri would fit in the series or are they mostly unconnected and would fit anywhere?

  10. Im not a reader,,, I only ever read two books that were made into a films. “Jaws” and “Treasure Island” guess what? I enjoyed the films more.
    I have only ever read for info and learning. Never finding the time, I was recommended to Jack Reacher and I have seen both films. I am a Cruise fan and yet I totally agree, he just isn’t right for ‘Reacher’.
    What I like about Jack Reacher is that he has no morales left but his ethics are completely intact. He can be relied upon to do what needs to be done. And ‘bent’ cops are treated like vermin. Excellent!
    I have only read 4 so far, in the last week. I can’t put them down. Grrr
    I came here looking for some sort of reading order. In the four I’ve read, Mr. Child does a great job in referencing back to the past, so I will read them in release order. Thank you for the synopses too.

  11. I have read several Reacher books. I’ve seen both movies as well. I actually prefer the Tom Cruz character over the novel version. Plan to read them all.

  12. Have loved Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and am ready to start reading them all again. Have never done this for any other author.

    1. Have you ever read any by Louis L’Amour..have over 100 of his books and read all of them more than twice…will look for Jack Reacher stories to see if I enjoy them too…I did enjoy the movies.

  13. I don’t understand the difference between chronological order the publication order. Doesn’t each publication follow the previous publication in the series ?

    1. Yes, each publication follows the previous publication. However, sometimes the author will write a book in the series that skips back in time. Thus a chronological order. This is the order that the character’s story takes place, not necessarily the order that the author thought to write it and certainly not when the author published it. I hope this makes sense and answers your question.

    2. Chronological is the time in which the events in the books occurred. The Enemy is the eighth book written by Lee Child in his “Reacher” series. but written while Reacher was still in the Army. Like a prequel. I hope that helps

  14. Two short stories in the collection, No Middle Name, are not included in this chronological list. “No Room at the Motel” and “The Picture of the Lonely Diner” Anyone know where they fit in?

  15. I just finished Past Tense, reading in order based on when story takes place. A couple of them I found had long boring sections with too much about direction and details about guns and ammo, but I skim those parts. But they do get exciting sooner or later. I read one in about 8-9 hours. It’s covid, I’m retired, so why not? I prefer Harry Bosch books but I’ve read them all twice so…

  16. Oh and I get a bit tired of his almost routine conquests of women. I notice when that does NOT happen in a book. And I’m a woman.

    1. Yes indeed, the women are always hot and even though he is rough and probably stinky he always gets laid. Big shame. But then also, he is a psyco who kills many people and smashes up many more. Not a great role model!

  17. There are a couple of books that are prequels. Written after several others when he’s out of the army. In the prequels he’s still in the army. The Enemy and Night School and The Affair.

  18. @Jerry … not just chicks reading Jack Reacher. I have been a fan for many years and only just found out that my brother has also read them all

  19. My father who is in his 90s got me reading the Jack Reacher novels, I have read them all twice and now my daughter and son are reading them. Three generations of Jack Reacher fans!

  20. I went off the films when, in start of a few of the novels, there are descriptions of Reacher, very tall, decently weighted for his height and showing obvious scars of a rough upbringing then to hear that a pipsqueak of a man, that would have to have Alan Ladd type runways to look the height was to be portrayed as Jack Reacher. Sorry, but Tom Cruise does not cut it for me! Spoils the whole spectacle.

  21. Love the books and just binged the first series – excellent casting, just how I think he should be and the series is true to the book which was refreshingly good

  22. Are subsequent series going to be made based on more books?
    I loved Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt in Clive Cussler’s Sahara. And then there were no more. Such a letdown!

  23. Another person asked the following question:
    “Two short stories in the collection, No Middle Name, are not included in this chronological list. “No Room at the Motel” and “The Picture of the Lonely Diner” Anyone know where they fit in?”
    No one replied, and I have been trying to find the answer. No luck, so I figured I’d ask too. Thanks in advance for any assistance!

    1. Kevin,
      I just added those two short stories to the chronological list. Tell me if you think that’s good! We’ll make changes if I made a mistake!

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