Standing six foot five and weighing around 230 pounds, Jack Reacher is a man people notice. He is a man of few words and the total number of his worldly possessions can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Besides his clothes, he owns a folding toothbrush. Appearing a drifter, people, especially the bad guys, tend to underestimate him, which is definitely a mistake with Reacher. He has one rule. If people leave him alone, he leaves them alone. If they don’t, he doesn’t. In this article, we’ll show you how to read the Jack Reacher books in order.
Jack Reacher Books in Reading Order
While you can certainly read the Jack Reacher books in publication order, the reading order provides better context around the character and tells Jack Reacher’s story chronologically.
1. The Enemy (2004)
2. Night School (2016)
3. The Affair (2011)
4. Killing Floor (1997)
5. Die Trying (1998)
6. Tripwire (1999)
7. Running Blind / The Visitor (2000)
8. Echo Burning (2001)
9. Without Fail (2002)
10. Persuader (2003)
11. One Shot (2005)
12. The Hard Way (2006)
13. Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
14. Nothing to Lose (2008)
15. Gone Tomorrow (2009)
16. 61 Hours (2010)
17. Worth Dying For (2010)
18. A Wanted Man (2012)
19. Never Go Back (2013)
20. Personal (2014)
21. Make Me (2015)
22. The Midnight Line (2017)
23. Past Tense (2018)
24. Blue Moon (2019)
25. The Sentinel (2020)
26. Better Off Dead (2021)
Jack Reacher Book Order by Publication Date
Lee Child published the first Jack Reacher book, Killing Floor, in 1997, but there were three novels that were written later but have plots that take place before Killing Floor. Below are the books in order by publication date.
1. Killing Floor (1997)
2. Die Trying (1998)
3. Tripwire (1999)
4. Running Blind / The Visitor (2000)
5. Echo Burning (2001)
6. Without Fail (2002)
7. Persuader (2003)
8. The Enemy (2004)
9. One Shot (2005)
10. The Hard Way (2006)
11. Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
12. Nothing to Lose (2008)
13. Gone Tomorrow (2009)
14. 61 Hours (2010)
15. Worth Dying For (2010)
16. The Affair (2011)
17. A Wanted Man (2012)
18. Never Go Back (2013)
19. Personal (2014)
20. Make Me (2015)
21. Night School (2016)
22. The Midnight Line (2017)
23. Past Tense (2018)
24. Blue Moon (2019)
25. The Sentinel (2020)
26. Better Off Dead (2021)
Jack Reacher Short Stories in Order
In addition to the 26 novels, Jack Reacher appears in a number of short stories and novellas.
The Fourth Man was published as bonus material in Australia’s Past Tense hardcovers as a short story, and is now a digital single in the UK.
Jack Reacher Short Story Collections
This complete collection includes a thrilling new novella and eleven previously published stories including “Too Much Time”.
- No Middle Name (2017)
Who Is Jack Reacher?
Reacher’s background is dragged out of the stories bit by bit. His father was a United States Marine officer, his mother was French, a Resistance fighter during World War II. Both of his parents were capable of killing. Reacher was closest to his older brother, Joe, whom he idolized.
Like his father, Reacher went into the military. Rather than the marines, he chose the army, where he became an MP (Military Police). He attained the rank of major and was head of the crack 110th Special Investigations Unit. Why he left the army is answered in the 16th novel in the series, The Affair. His 110th team calls on him now and again after he leaves.
With his toothbrush in his pocket, Jack Reacher gets on a bus, not particularly caring what its destination is. He gets off in a town because he likes the name or the scenery or he sees something that needs to be fixed. Reacher is a fixer of situations although he does tend to break some things and some people in the process, however. If he sees injustice, people being abused and wronged, Jack Reacher just cannot stand by and let the bad guys win. Whether the villains are thieves, assassins, or bad cops, he will champion the victims (along with the beautiful woman who has been trying to defend them). At some point in the story, the thugs end up scattered unconscious around a parking lot after six or seven of them try to take Jack on. Lee Child is a master of the action scene.
But Reacher isn’t just a big brute. He’s incredibly smart and something of a human calculator, solving difficult computations in his head. Like Sherlock Holmes, Reacher observes everything around him. And he notices minor discrepancies that sometimes lead him to conclusions no one else has recognized. His apparent lack of emotion and his computational skills are reminiscent of an android, although he does have his foibles. His intake of coffee would drown the ordinary person.
Lee Child Biography
Reacher’s creator is Lee Child, whose real name is James Dover Grant CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). He received that honor in 2019. Reacher probably would not be dazzled, but Child was. It’s been a long hard road for Child. Born in England, he got a job with a British broadcasting company as a technician in 1977. He worked his way up to television director and was doing well when the company had to downsize in the 90s. Child decided that this was the time to write his book. His wife and teenage daughter got jobs to help support him. They were on the verge of having to sell their home when he landed a contract for the book, Killing Floor.
When someone asked him why he, being British, writes about an American hero in America, Child explained that Britain is small. America is big. Lots more can happen. Child has moved from Britain to New York City, which he prefers never to leave.
The Jack Reacher Novels
There are 26 books in the thriller series at this point with two ways to approach them. You can read them in chronological order as they were printed. Or you can read the story of Reacher from kid to adult, starting with the novel, Second Son. However you tackle the series, you’ll find yourself entranced by Child’s writing. While the violence is graphic, the author choreographs it into the story so well that you don’t mind. The suspense is always gripping as you watch Reacher come to conclusions no one else has achieved.
You would think Jack would be a rather flat character, but he isn’t. With the narrator we sometimes get into his head and discover that he is a complex, interesting person. Lee Child created a hero that millions of people have related at. And we never want him to change.
Jack Reacher Movies in Order
In addition to the books, two movies have been created around Jack Reacher’s character.
Jack Reacher (2012)
The first Jack Reacher film was released on December 21, 2012 and featured Tom Cruise as the title character. The movie is based on the 2005 novel One Shot.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
The sequel to Jack Reacher, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, was released on October 20, 2015 and is based on the 2013 novel Never Go Back.
Jack Reacher Book Summaries
Below are plot summaries for the current Jack Reacher novels.
Book 1: The Enemy
For Jack Reacher, life has been a series of hairpin twists and turns. But when the veteran finds a deceased general murdered in a cheap motel, it suddenly becomes even more complex. And when he realizes that the general’s wife has also been killed, Reacher quickly realizes that he is racing against the clock to uncover what could be a vast conspiracy. In the chronological first book of the Jack Reacher series, Jack begins his adventures.
Book 2: Night School
After being honored for his extraordinary military service, Jack Reacher is unexpectedly sent off to a night class. With an CIA analyst and an FBI agent in the class with him, Reacher wonders exactly what the military is trying to accomplish. When news of a Saudi courier with a terrifying message is uncovered, it dawns upon Reacher that his country may be in grave danger if he doesn’t act quickly.
Book 3: The Affair
A young woman has been killed, and it is up to Jack Reacher to investigate the mysterious circumstances of her death. A soldier with powerful connections is a person of interest, but Reacher suspects that there is much more to the story. Teaming up with a sheriff named Elizabeth Devereaux, Reacher starts to realize that disappearing at the end of his job may not be as easy as it sounds.
Book 4: Killing Floor
In this first novel of the Jack Reacher series, the former military cop is in a world of trouble. While passing through a small town in Georgia, he is arrested for murder. The problem is that he did not kill the victim; someone else obviously did. But, the more he tries to talk his way out of being accused of this heinous crime, the worse the situation seems to deteriorate. If he doesn’t figure out his situation quickly, the killer will probably strike again.
Book 5: Die Trying
It’s just another beautiful day in Chicago — until it isn’t. Jack Reacher sees a woman being taken against her will — and then he is kidnapped for being a witness to the crime. Once he’s tossed into a van with the victim, Reacher starts to put together the puzzle of why this group of men took her. But it may be too late.
Book 6: Tripwire
For Jack Reacher, nothing is more dangerous than becoming mired in his own past. But when a man shows up in Key West with questions about him, Reacher is intrigued. Unfortunately, it’s not long before that man is killed. With all of the clues pointing back to New York — and a mysterious woman — Reacher needs to put together the pieces of this puzzle very fast.
Book 7: Running Blind
When a serial killer starts systematically killing women, authorities are perplexed. The murderer leaves absolutely no clues behind, and no one knows when he may strike next. Also, it appears as though the victims have nothing in common — until the truth is revealed. Every single woman who has been killed knew Jack Reacher in some way. And the longer this killer stays on the loose, the scarier the situation becomes.
Book 8: Echo Burning
Jack Reacher makes the fateful decision to hitchhike across Texas. And it’s not long before he is picked up by a woman with her own dark secrets. But it turns out that Carmen Greer is willing to talk, and Reacher is struck by her strange stories — until he realizes that he may have just become part of one.
Book 9: Without Fail
For one woman, protecting the VP is the most important job in the world. But when she becomes aware of a sinister plot to assassinate her charge, she calls upon Jack Reacher to look for details she may have overlooked. Pretty soon, however, it becomes clear that the attempt may come faster than they anticipated.
Book 10: Persuasder
When DEA Susan Duffy realizes that she may have put one of her employees in harm’s way, it’s time to call in Jack Reacher. The imperiled woman is stuck in a mansion in Maine — and the complicated criminal network holding her there seems to be incredibly skilled at getting what they want. Fortunately, Reacher still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Book 11: One Shot
When a military sniper is accused of a horrific shooting, he proclaims his innocence and asks for Jack Reacher. Reacher’s assessment of the situation is that the man would never miss a shot — but now it’s a race agains time to figure out who would — and who did. With a man’s life on the line, the stakes are high.
Book 12: The Hard Way
All Jack Reacher wants to do is relax and mind his own business in New York City. But that goal seems like it will never materialize when Edward Lane comes into Reacher’s life. Lane’s wife and child have been kidnapped, and he will go to any lengths to find them. With ransom money in a Mercedes and Reacher in hot pursuit of these criminals, anything can happen.
Book 13: Bad Luck and Trouble
A string of seemingly unrelated incidents across the country start to rattle Jack Reacher. First, there’s the man falling out of a helicopter. Then there’s a situation in Chicago. For Reacher, who is in Portland, it becomes obvious that all bets are off. He needs to solve this one in a hurry — or else.
Book 14: Nothing to Lose
Jack Reacher finds himself plunged into a world of symbolic strangeness when he is forced to shuttle between two remote towns in Colorado. Named Hope and Despair, they diverge from the Jacker Reacher book summaries of the past and quickly become their own alarming landscape. In fact, it becomes obvious that a lot of people seem to want Reacher dead.
Book 15: Gone Tomorrow
Nothing good happens after midnight, especially not in NYC. At two in the morning, Jack Reacher is on the subway with five other people. Four of those people have no idea how unfortunate their choice to travel was. The fifth person may prove to be a match for Reacher, who is quickly running out of ideas in this game of cat and mouse.
Book 16: 61 Hours
Not much happens in South Dakota, until one woman interrupts the status quo and demands justice. When Jack Reacher’s bus crashes in the middle of this nightmare, he knows that he has to do anything and everything he can to help out — even if it means putting his own life on the line. And it turns out that his opponents are deadly serious.
Book 17: Worth Dying For
Somehow, Jack Reacher seems to find trouble wherever he goes. When he shows up in Nebraska, he quickly manages to offend the Duncan clan. As it turns out, this is a serious problem that may carry grave consequences. And Reacher needs to extricate himself from the situation before it boils over.
Book 18: A Wanted Man
A man is murdered in a pumping station. By all indications, he’s been stabbed by someone who knew what they were doing. Four people in a car headed to Chicago become suspicious of one another. One of the guys in the vehicle just happens to be Jack Reacher. He wasn’t looking for trouble when he decided to hitchhike, but it would definitely seem that he has found it.
Book 19: Never Go Back
There is nothing fun about fugitive. It’s something that Jack Reacher is forced to learn when his name gets caught up in a government crisis. He knows that he didn’t do what he’s accused of; with each passing hour, though, it’s getting harder and harder to prove that. Only the truth will free him.
Book 20: Personal
Every time Jack Reacher tries to leave the military for good, he finds that he is pulled back in. And when someone tries to assassinate the French president, people are shocked to learn that the would-be assassin just might be an American. It’s up to Reacher to smoke out the suspect, but the conspiracy becomes even more intense than what he’s used to.
Book 21: Make Me
In a strange town called Mother’s Rest, Jack Reacher is caught up in a bit of mistaken identity. A woman named Michelle Chang confuses him with her business partner. And, as it turns out, she may have inadvertently drawn Reacher into their spider web of danger. With her partner missing, it’s anyone’s guess what might happen to Reacher.
Book 22: The Midnight Line
Military service means a lot to Jack Reacher, which is why he’s surprised when he finds a pawned West Point ring that belonged to a woman. He decides to track down the mysterious jewelry owner and find out what happened to her. As it turns out, this may be one of his deadliest decisions yet.
Book 23: Past Tense
For Jack Reacher, dealing with past has never really been easy. But nothing is as complicated as confronting his dad’s legacy. When he decides to stop by the town where his father was born, strange things start to happen. Reacher realizes that he may have burrowed in too deep to family secrets.
Book 24: Blue Moon
For Jack Reacher, no good deed ever goes unpunished. And when he sets out to help an older couple who have accumulated some serious debts, he suddenly finds himself at the center of a turf war. The Albanians and the Ukrainians are going after each other — and Reacher is inadvertently in the crossfire.
Book 25: The Sentinel
When Jack Reacher finds himself in Tennessee with nothing to do, he knows that it won’t be long before trouble shows up at his doorstep. Sure enough, a local IT expert finds himself the target of nefarious individuals. It’s up to Reacher to try and save this man from the forces of evil that have also ruined his livelihood, but time is of the essence.
Book 26: Better Off Dead
Reacher stumbles upon a woman in a crashed Jeep. It turns out that she’s an FBI agent in pursuit of her twin brother. In order to rescue her brother from the evil crew that has dug their claws into her family member, however, she will need Reacher’s help. But the more he uncovers, the more he realizes that he and his new friend may be no match for this terrifying group.