At a Glance
The Jack Reacher novels in order by the popular thriller author Lee Child follow an ex-military policeman who likes to travel alone, but whom trouble finds no matter in which far away corner of the country he happens to be at the time.
Lee Child started to write this series back in 1997 with his debut novel Killing Floor, the first book in the Jack Reacher series, at least in publication order.
Below you will find the Jack Reacher books in order of publication with synopsis inside each book link and with the chronology listed in brackets next to each novel.
New Jack Reacher Books
Jack Reacher Novels In Order
- Killing Floor (#1), 1997
- Die Trying (#2), 1998
- Tripwire (#3), 1999
- The Visitor (#4), 2000 – also under the name of Running Blind
- Echo Burning (#5), 2001
- Without Fail (#6), 2002
- Persuader (#7), 2003
- The Enemy (#8), 2004 (the story takes place before any other in the series, back when he was still an MP in 1990 – if you want to start with the first in chronological order, The Enemy should be it)
- One Shot (#9), 2005 – this is the novel that prompted the first movie adaptation in 2012 with Tom Cruise
- The Hard Way (#10), 2006
- Bad Luck And Trouble (#11), 2007
- Nothing To Lose (#12), 2007
- Gone Tomorrow (#13), 2009
- 61 Hours (#14), 2010
- Worth Dying For (#15), 2010
- Second Son (a short novella where Jack is only 13 years old – if you discount the actual novels, this could be really the first Jack Reacher book in chronological order), 2011
- The Affair (#16) – the second book in chronological order, following The Enemy, and 6 months before the events happening in Killing Floor, 2011
- Deep Down (#16.5) – the story is set early in Reacher’s military career, back in 1986, 2012
- A Wanted Man (#17), 2012
- High Heat (#17.5) – this short novella finds Jack as a young 16-year-old, 2013
- Never Go Back (#18), 2013 – second movie adaptation with Tom Cruise
- Not a Drill (#19), 2014
- Personal (#20), 2014
- Small Wars (#19.5), 2015 (short story)
- Make Me (#20), 2015
- Night School (#21), 2016
- The Midnight Line (#22), 2017
- The Christmas Scorpion (#22.5), 2018
- Past Tense (#23), 2018
Lee Child has also written two further short stories that were published in 2011 in one book called James Penney’s New Identity/Guy Walks Into a Bar. Guy Walks Into A Bar is set shortly before the happenings in Gone Tomorrow, which makes the novella book #12.5 in chronological order, while James Penney’s New Identity features Jack still in the Army as a captain.
Other Jack Reacher Books
- Jack Reacher’s Rules, 2011 (non-fiction)
- Public Transportation, 2014 (novella)
- Good and Valuable Consideration, 2014 (novella)
- James Penney’s New Identity, 2017 (novella)
- I Heard a Romantic Story, 2018 (novella)
- Faking a Murderer, 2018 (novella)
What are Some of the Best Jack Reacher Books?
With 22 books published so far and a 23rd Jack Reacher book titled Past Tense coming out later this year, this question is bound to come up in the thriller reading circles. Some people (like me) are addicted to reading the Lee Child novels, while others want to sample only the best. To each their own.
To those readers who do not want to start the Jack Reacher series from the first book but want to read the best novels right away, here is my personal list of Jack Reacher books. I say personal because tastes differ from one person to the other. Having read all the books in the series, these are my best Jack Reacher books to start with:
- Killing Floor
- Running Blind
- Worth Dying For
- One Shot
- Bad Luck and Trouble
- The Enemy
- 61 Hours
- The Hard Way
- Night School
Which are your most favorite books in the series?
Reading the Jack Reacher Novels in Order of Publication or Chronological Order?
If you want to catch up to the chronological order of Jack Reacher books, you should start with The Enemy (which is book #8 in publication order and was written in 2004). The book chronologically covers the very end of the time Jack was in the military, and it transitions into the first book written, Killing Floor.
In addition, Persuader has a few flashbacks to Reacher’s military career, but as for reading the book, you can easily read it in the regular publication order.
Also, some of the short stories should be read before Killing Floor. In the novella Second Son, Jack is merely 13, and in High Heat, he is a 16-years-old teenager.
Where Else Does Jack Reacher Appear in Books?
I was quite surprised a while back to learn that Reacher appeared in books of other authors, including Stephen King in his book Under the Dome. Diane Capri has also written a series called The Hunt for Jack where Reacher is mentioned quite a lot, although he never actually appears in the books as a character.
About Lee Child
Born in 1954 in Coventry England, Lee Child (a pen name for the British author James Grant) moved to at the age of 4 to Birmingham He went to law school where he graduated, but never really practiced law.
Instead, Lee Child went to work the Granada TV in Manchester, where he worked for 18 years before he was downsized in 1995. This is when he decided to try his hands at writing. And it ended up being the best decision of his career ever. Reading the Jack Reacher novels in order proves this very point.
His very first book was Killing Floor, published in 1995. It was also the book that started me on my journey of discovering this great author with his enigmatic character.
In 1998 Lee Child moved to the US where he continued writing his Jack Reacher series, where he met his wife, Jane. He currently lives in New York with his wife and his already grown daughter. A fun trivia I was pleased to read about – he dedicated A Wanted Man (published in 2012) to his wife.
So who is Jack Reacher? He is a drifter who loves to hitchhike or go by bus, and who never wears a watch – yet invariably knows the exact time of day or night any time you ask him. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘drifter’ though. He knows well the art of fighting, he knows how to defend himself and anyone else around him that needs defending. Especially a good-looking damsel in distress.
Have you noticed most book covers have that lone character depicted somewhere walking on a road? I find it kind of sad, the character always choosing to be and leave alone after finishing the current job.
All the stories have a beginning and an end, meaning that reading the Jack Reacher books in order is not really a must. There are no loose ties left at the end of a novel. Wherever he is at the moment, Jack solves the case, saves the needy and terminates the threat – and then moves on to another part of the country he wants to visit.
However, if you do want to read the Jack Reacher books in order, you get to learn more about our hero in every subsequent novel – about his past, his brother, his demons and why he quit the Army Military Police Force to go around the country investigating situations that can get dangerous to people who can’t protect themselves.
So how many Lee Child books in chronological order have been written so far? Well, the Lee Child bibliography for his Jack Reacher book series currently includes 22 main novels and several short stories. The latest short story is titled The Midnight Line, published in 2017. The new Jack Reacher book published in 2018, titled Past Tense.
A small trivia about the author Lee Child – every year he starts his new novels on September 1. This was the very date when he first purchases the paper and the pen he used to write his debut novel, Killing Floor.
Currently, there are two Jack Reacher movies in order available starring Tom Cruise, the last one released in November 2016.