Jack Reacher Books in order: How to read Lee Child series?


Last Updated 2 months ago.Like with Quarry, the Jack Reacher books are numerous and they are not published in a chronological order. It’s not a problem, you can read them in any order you like. That said, maybe you want more, like a sense of continuity or just a firm direction to follow.

Who is Jack Reacher?

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

Jack Reacher is a former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps. We mostly follow him as he travels through the United States, helping people and falling into webs of complications and mysteries.


What’s the best Jack Reacher’s reading order?

There are three ways to read Jack Reacher’s series. The first is the simple one, you take the books like you want. The second is to follow the publication order. The third is the chronological order – you can find this one at the end of this article.

  1. Killing Floor – Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. All Reacher knows is that he is innocent, but he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone.
  2. Die Trying – Jack Reacher witnesses a woman kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight. In the wrong place at the wrong time, he’s kidnapped with her. They’re at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom and Reacher has to save them both or die trying…
  3. Tripwire – Jack Reacher is in Key West when a stranger shows up asking for him. Reacher has got a lot of questions after the guy turns up dead. The answers lead him on a cold trail back to New York, to the tenuous confidence of an alluring woman, and the dangerous corners of his own past.
  4. Running Blind aka The Visitor – Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no clues to an apparent motive. Each one of the women knew Jack Reacher – and it’s got him running blind.

  1. Echo Burning – Reacher hitches a ride in Texas and gets picked up by Carmen, a mother of a young girl trapped in an abusive marriage. After some deliberation Reacher consents to help her but things don’t go as plan when Carmen is being arrested for the murder of her husband. Reacher finds himself investigating the truth.
  2. Without Fail – In Atlantic City, Reacher met Mary Ellen Froelich, a secret service agent with a special request: That Reacher tell her how he would kill the Vice-President in order to tighten her security detail. He accepts and enlists an old colleague, Frances Neagley, to help carry out the mission.
  3. Persuader – Reacher sees Quinn, a man responsible for the murder of two of Reacher’s colleagues ten years back and who should be dead. Reacher teams up with the DEA to penetrate a smuggling ring in order to get back at Quinn.
  4. The Enemy – New Year’s Day, 1990. In a North Carolina motel, a two-star general is found dead. His briefcase is missing. Nobody knows what was in it. Within minutes Reacher has his orders: Control the situation. Within hours the general’s wife is murdered. Then the dominoes really start to fall.

  1. One Shot – Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me.
  2. The Hard Way – On the trail of vicious kidnappers, Reacher learns the chilling secrets of his employer, Edward Lane, and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. Reacher also knows that he’s already in way too deep to stop now. And if he has to do it the hard way, he will.
  3. Bad Luck and Trouble – A woman from his former military unit has found Reacher using a signal only the members of their elite team would know. She tells him about the brutal death of one of their own. Soon they learn of the sudden disappearance of two other comrades. When someone targets Jack Reacher and his team, they’d better be ready for what comes right back at them.
  4. Nothing to Lose – Traveling from the town of Hope, Colorado to the neighboring town of Despair, Reacher finds that he is an unwelcome visitor and decides to investigate the mystery behind the town’s unwelcoming disposition towards visitors.

  1. Gone Tomorrow – Reacher takes the subway late at night and end up next to a suicide bomber. He reasons with her, but she shoots herself; thereby proving Reacher wrong when he concluded she was a bomber. Now, he wants to know why she killed herself.
  2. 61 Hours – A bus crashes in a snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher nearby Bolton, South Dakota, where one woman is standing up for justice in this small town. A proficient assassin who never misses just arrived and the next 61 hours will change everything.
  3. Worth Dying For – Reacher arrives in a rural Nebraska town where he overhears a drunk doctor’s refusal to attend a victim of domestic abuse. Reacher intervenes and end up embroiled in a smuggling ring and an unsolved disappearance from twenty-five years prior.
  4. The Affair – March 1997. Still in the army, Jack Reacher find trouble in a small town in Mississippi, where a soldier’s girlfriend is found with her throat cut from ear to ear. Reacher must determine whether the killer is local, or from nearby Fort Kelham. He must go undercover to investigate.

  1. A Wanted Man – All Jack Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. He soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy, in which nothing is what it seems, and nobody is telling the truth.
  2. Never Go Back – Reacher makes it to the headquarters of his old unit. On arriving though, he finds out that the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner, has been arrested. Soon he too finds himself taken into custody, pending the trail of two crimes he allegedly committed while he was in the army. Reacher and Turner set out to find the truth.
  3. Personal – Reacher is tasked with finding out the person responsible for taking a long-distance shot at the French President, one of the suspects being a man Reacher tracked put in jail sixteen years back. He is teamed with Casey Nice, a rookie analyst.
  4. Make Me – Reacher makes a stop in an agrarian town called Mother’s Rest where a woman named Michelle Chang asks his help to find a missing colleague.

  1. Night School – Early 1996. Reacher is still in the army and placed into a top-secret multi-agency task force. A CIA informant in a Jihadist sleeper cell in Hamburg, Germany, has relayed the message The American wants a hundred million dollars. With little else to go on, Reacher and his new associates are tasked with finding the buyer and the seller and determining what is being sold.
  2. The Midnight Line – Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher decides to find the woman and return her ring. So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest.
  3. Past Tense – Jack Reacher hits the pavement and sticks out his thumb. He plans to follow the sun on an epic trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn’t get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been: the town where his father was born. He thinks, What’s one extra day? He takes the detour.
  4. Blue Moon – Reacher is on a Greyhound bus, minding his own business. Then he steps off the bus to help an old man who is obviously just a victim waiting to happen. Now Reacher wants to make it right. An elderly couple have made a few well-meaning mistakes, and now they owe big money to some very bad people. One brazen move leads to another, and suddenly Reacher finds himself a wanted man in the middle of a brutal turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs.

The Sentinel Jack Reacher Books in Order Better Off Dead Jack Reacher Books in Order

  1. The Sentinel – Jack Reacher gets off a bus in Nashville, Tennessee, in a quest for food, lodging and some good country music. But when he encounters a band of musicians who have been cheated by an unscrupulous bar owner, he steps in to help….
  2. Better Off Dead – Reacher isn’t one to back down from a fight. And when a shadowy crew raises the stakes, he won’t hesitate to teach them a lesson: When you pick a fight with Reacher, you’re better off dead.

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. The Enemy
  6. Night School
  7. James Penney’s New Identity (short story)
  8. The Affair
  9. Killing Floor
  10. Die Trying
  11. Tripwire
  12. The Visitor – aka Running Blind
  13. Echo Burning
  14. Without Fail
  15. Persuader
  16. One Shot
  17. The Hard Way
  18. Bad Luck and Trouble
  19. Nothing to Lose
  20. Guy Walks into a Bar… (short story)
  21. Gone Tomorrow
  22. 61 Hours
  23. Worth Dying For
  24. A Wanted Man
  25. Everyone Talks (short story)
  26. Never Go Back
  27. Not a Drill (short story)
  28. Personal
  29. Good and Valuable Consideration (short story)
  30. Make Me
  31. Maybe they Have a Tradition (short story)
  32. Too Much Time (short story)
  33. Faking a Murderer (short story with Temperance Brennan)
  34. The Midnight Line
  35. Past Tense
  36. The Fourth Man (short story)
  37. Cleaning the Gold (short story with Will Trent)
  38. Smile (short story)
  39. Blue Moon
  40. The Sentinel

65 thoughts on “Jack Reacher Books in order: How to read Lee Child series?”

  1. I have read all of LEE CHILD,S books aka Jack Reacher . Got them all and have started to read them over again. Last book I read it within a month could not put it down.

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

      1. Christine Stevenson

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

  2. 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’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”.

  3. Jack Reacher’s Chronological Reading Order should be:
    6. James Penney’s New Identity (short story) – Reacher is back to Captain
    7. Night School

  4. 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?

  5. 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 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

    1. 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……

      1. 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.”

      1. 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…

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. Agree that Tom Cruise is a weird choice to play Reacher. The problem with casting someone else is that Cruise loved the books and bought the movie rights. So he’d likely have to sell the rights for better casting.

    1. Amazon announced a few weeks ago the development of a TV Show, there will be another actor playing Reacher soon for sure.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 ?

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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?

  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

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