At a Glance
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Last Updated -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 (Jack Reacher #1), 1997
- Die Trying (Jack Reacher #2), 1998
- Tripwire (Jack Reacher #3), 1999
- The Visitor (Jack Reacher #4), 2000 – also under the name of Running Blind
- Echo Burning (Jack Reacher #5), 2001
- Without Fail (Jack Reacher #6), 2002
- Persuader (Jack Reacher #7), 2003
- The Enemy (Jack Reacher #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 (Jack Reacher #9), 2005 – this is the novel that prompted the first movie adaptation in 2012 with Tom Cruise
- The Hard Way (Jack Reacher #10), 2006
- Bad Luck And Trouble (Jack Reacher #11), 2007
- Nothing To Lose (Jack Reacher #12), 2007
- Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher #13), 2009
- 61 Hours (Jack Reacher #14), 2010
- Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher #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 (Jack Reacher #16) – the second book in chronological order, following The Enemy, and 6 months before the events happening in Killing Floor, 2011
- Deep Down (Jack Reacher #16.5) – the story is set early in Reacher’s military career, back in 1986, 2012
- A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher #17), 2012
- High Heat (Jack Reacher #17.5) – this short novella finds Jack as a young 16-year-old, 2013
- Never Go Back (Jack Reacher #18), 2013 – second movie adaptation with Tom Cruise
- Not a Drill (Jack Reacher #18.8), 2014
- Personal (Jack Reacher #19), 2014
- Small Wars (#19.5), 2015 (short story)
- Make Me (Jack Reacher #20), 2015
- Night School (Jack Reacher #21), 2016
- The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher #22), 2017
- The Christmas Scorpion (Jack Reacher #22.5), 2018
- Past Tense (Jack Reacher #23), 2018
- The Fourth Man (Jack Reacher #23.5), 2019
- Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24), 2019
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)
Jack Reacher Book Summaries
Jack Reacher hops off a Greyhound bus at Margrave, Georgia. He wants to find out what happened to Blind Blake, the musician. It only takes him an hour to be arrested for murder. Except, of course, he didn’t do it. There is an attempt on his life, and he is now more than determined to figure out what is really going on. Without realizing, Jack has stumbled upon a major counterfeit operation and he knows he needs to take them down.
Jack is now in Chicago when he comes across Holly Johnson. He helps her cross the street when both he and the woman are abducted at gunpoint. They have no idea where they are being taken and why. The van stops at a remote location and now Jack Reacher and Holly need to figure out how to get out of their predicament. Jack learns that the woman is not just somebody. She is an FBI agent and now the office is also looking for her.
In this book, Jack is in the Florida Keys where he is working as a swimming pool digger while at night he is spending his time as a bouncer at a local strip club. He soon learns that he is a wanted man by someone called Mrs. Jacob, who is actually Jodie Garber, the divorced rich lawyer, daughter of General Leon Garber whom Jack knows from his days back in the Army. Her father is dying and Jodie wants Jack found right away because there is something Leon wants to tell Jack about a project he’s been working on, one that will interest Jack very much.
When women who knew Jack Reacher are found dead, Jack is under suspicion. After all, he was the one thing all these women had in common. Special Agent Julia Lamarr arrests him but then releases him when the body of another woman is found while he is in custody. Now Reacher has to begin investigating because all these killings have to do somehow with his own past in the military.
True to his name, Jack Reacher is a drifter and right now he is drifting somewhere in Texas near the Mexican border waiting for anyone to pick him up on the highway. That someone turns out to be Carmen who is driving a Cadillac. Jack soon finds himself mixed up in a case of domestic abuse, kidnaping, and murder. He can never say no to a woman in distress, even if that woman is Carmen.
Jack Reacher is approached by a secret agent who wants something from him: to find loopholes in their plan to kill the vice president by penetrating her team’s shield. Unfortunately, there is a real group of assassins who want to do just that. Their plan is near perfect. Why near? Because the one thing they haven’t planned on is Jack Reacher.
The Enemy is the prequel to the Jack Reacher series. If you want to read the books in proper chronological order, you should start with this one. It takes place in 1990, when in a motel a 2-star general is found dead. Jack has to contain the situation, but what he can’t control is that the general’s wife is soon killed as well – hundreds of miles away. When all things seem to fall apart, Jack is chosen as the fall guy. But what nobody has counted on is Jack himself. Still, Jack is also fighting his inner demons when he learns secrets about his family and his past. Secrets that will change Jack forever.
When in a small Indiana town a gunman commits the ultimate crime killing five people with six shots, the killer is found. The case is closed. But the shooter says he didn’t do it and he asks for Jack Reacher by name. When Jack sees the news about the shooting, he heads that direction even though he’s many, many miles away. He doesn’t go there because the man asked for him. He goes there because he wants to make sure he is prosecuted – after all, he did get away many years ago when he did the same thing during the Persian Gulf War. And Jack can’t let him get away once more.
The Hard Way
Jack is this time in New York city relaxing and watching the world move by. He sees a guy going towards his Mercedes. Little does he know that he will soon get involved in a case of kidnapping for ransom. Once he starts investigating, he realizes that all the clues led him to the wrong end. Now he has to do it the hard way to get back on track and finally find the kidnapped woman and her child.
Bad Luck And Trouble
Jack is on the move again, this time in Portland. Soon after a man is thrown down a moving helicopter to his death in the California desert, a woman in Chicago learns that her friend, an investigator with a past in the army is dead. When Reacher checks his bank account, he sees more money than he should have. He realizes that the money is actually an encoded message. Now Jack and his Army friends have to investigate the murders before they are next.
Nothing To Lose
As usual on the road, Jack Reacher is passing through two towns: Hope and Despair. What he finds there though is not what he expected and definitely not a cup of coffee. Instead, he is jailed and then is asked to leave town. He is even driven by the police some five miles out of the town edges. But he can’t just leave, because there are some mysteries he definitely needs to solve. He can’t do it otherwise. It’s in his blood.
Jack is in New York and one night he witnesses something bad on the subway. People who know he saw all this contact him and ask him some weird questions. Eventually, he decides that the best course of action is to investigate what happened directly.
Reacher is on a bus that leaves him stranded due to an accident in Bolton, South Dakota, a small town in the middle of winter. The town is the proud neighbor of a military site that seems to be abandoned, and Jack senses all kinds of troubles in the town. As he has nothing better to do, he decides to stay put and investigate. After all, Bolton is a good place as any to stay for a while.
Worth Dying For
By now, Reacher has stopped in a small town with troubles of its own. Soon everyone wants him dead, including the major runner of the town, the Duncans. While he does want to get to Virginia, he senses that he needs to remain there to solve the town’s problems because that’s what he usually does.
For the chronological Jack Reacher books order, this comes as second after The Enemy. This story takes place about half a year before Killing Floor, in 1997. Jack still works in the military police working undercover in Carter Crossing, Mississippi. He currently has to investigate the murder of a woman who was found behind the bar in town. The town is very important to the Army for some secret reason, so no scandals are allowed in town. He soon hooks up (in both ways) with Elizabeth Deveraux, the local sheriff, and together they start to investigate the crime.
A Wanted Man
The book continues the story started in Worth Dying For. Jack Reacher still wants to get to Virginia. He is in Nebraska, standing by the road on an Interstate highway, waiting for a ride. When a car finally stops, he meets two men and a woman, all dressed in matching clothes. What he doesn’t know is that the three have left behind a body, a man stabbed to death. Reacher realizes from their conversations that things are not quite as they seem, and soon he gets, once again, involved in more than most people could handle. Not Reacher, though.
Never Go Back
Well, Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. He decides to visit Major Susan Turner, the new commander officer of the 110th MP, where he once was. But when he gets there, Susan is not at her desk. She seems to be in prison, and what’s worse, Jack himself is charged with two old crimes. Jack says he has no idea what the cases are, but he suddenly finds himself in the army again, at least until all is sorted out. There is a deep conspiracy going on and Reacher will stay at the base only if just to find out what exactly is going on there.
Finally, Jack goes overseas. When someone has tried to kill the president of France from very far away, there is only one man who could have pulled such a feat. And Jack knows him very well. So Jack is now sent to Europe to find the sniper because if he doesn’t, the assassin might take him out instead. Also, Jack was the one who arrested that guy and sent him to prison, so he knows he can do it again.
Jack is back at home, this time getting off a train at a tiny town called Mother’s Rest. The name is strange, to say the least, so Jack wants to find out more about it. He is soon approached by a woman, Michelle Chang, who believe him to be someone else. When she realizes her mistake, Jack tells her that there was noone else on that train as big as Jack. He was the only one. What he soon realizes is that bad guys are in town and they’re watching Chang’s every move. And because of that, those same bad guys have their eyes on him as well. And when he smells the conspiracy that lurks in the town, he must investigate, no matter what.
This is the third book to read if you want to catch the Jack Reacher books in chronological order (after The Enemy and The Affair). It is 1996 and Jack has just successfully completed a mission. Now he is sent to a night school course where he meets two other guys who have equally just finished their own successful missions as well. This is when they all learn that they are not actually in school. Instead, they are to work together on a very secret mission involving Jihadists located in Hamburg, Germany.
The Midnight Line
Reacher is back in Wisconsin when he sees in the window of a pawn shop a very small ring. It is, however, not a simple ring. It is the class ring of West Point 2005. From its size, he knows it belongs to a woman, and Jack becomes curious about the owner. Did she sell her ring? Was it stolen from her? What happened that it ended at the pawn shop? Of course, as usual, Jack Reacher finds plenty of trouble while trying to discover the identity and fate of the ring owner.
On the road again, Jack lands in New England, so he decides to visit the town where his father is from, Laconia. Except when he gets there, there isn’t any mention of a Reacher anywhere. There is a parallel story involving Shorty and Patty who are stranded and have to stop at a hotel which turns out to be weird, to say the least. Eventually, the two stories merge and we learn what the two people and Jack have in common.
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?
Should We Read the Jack Reacher Novels in Order of Publication or in 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.
Lee Child Biography
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.