Whenever I travel, I always take a Jack Reacher novel with me. I find Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books easy to read on a trip, involving, and real page-turners. I decided to read the Jack Reacher series in “Chronological” order, not in the order the books were published. Lee Child has published a few “prequels” to the series–a strategy I’m guessing Child will resort to again.

The Enemy introduces Jack Reacher as a Major in the Military Police. Reacher investigates the death of a General and that leads to a conspiracy. Night School brings Reacher onto a team that’s investigating possible terrorist plots. You can get more details here. Bill Crider makes some funny observations about The Affair (you can read them here). Reacher is sent to investigate the dead of three women in a small town outside a military base. Could someone at the base be the killer?

The first Jack Reacher novel in publishing order is Killing Floor. In the edition I read, Lee Child provides a retrospective on how Jack Reacher came to be and how he decided the kind of books he wanted to write. Jack Reacher gets arrested at the beginning of the book while eating breakfast in a little Southern town. What Reacher discovers has international dimensions. Reacher untangles the bizarre plot and extracts vengeance from the Bad Guys in an explosive conclusion. I’ll continue reading Jack Reacher novels in this order throughout 2020. GRADE: B (for all four books)
The Enemy (2004) Prequel set eight years before Killing Floor
Night School (2016) Prequel set when Reacher is 35
The Affair (2011) This is another prequel set just before Killing Floor
Killing Floor (1997)
Die Trying (1998)
Tripwire (1999)
Running Blind (2000) UK Title: “The Visitor”
Echo Burning (2001)
Without Fail (2002)
Persuader (2003)
One Shot (2005)
The Hard Way (2006)
Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
Nothing to Lose (2008)
Gone Tomorrow (2009)
61 Hours (Spring 2010)
Worth Dying For (Fall 2010)
A Wanted Man (2012)
Never Go Back (2013)
Personal (2014)
Make Me (2015)
No Middle Name (2017) Collection of 12 short stories
The Midnight Line (2017)
Past Tense (2018)
Blue Moon (2019)


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Only read one Jack Reacher novel and didn’t much care for the character. He seems too tough, too resilient, too clever. Much like the Joe Pike character in Robert Crais’s books. Kind of like Matt Helm crossed with MacGyver.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, you’re right about Jack Reacher’s resemblance to Joe Pike and Matt Helm. I enjoy Lee Child’s work occasionally…for the reasons you enumerate: too tough, too resilient, too clever. In small doses, that’s okay by me.

  2. Michael Padgett

    I started reading these in the late nineties when there were only 2-3 and have continued to read new ones as they appeared, and doubt that the series would gain much by being read in chronological order. The ones that stand out for me, to the extent that I can remember the individual titles, are “Running Blind”, “One Shot” (which was the basis of the first Reacher movie) and “Bad Luck and Trouble”. I thought the series began a pretty steep decline with “Never Go Back” (the basis of the second movie) and has not yet recovered. When I’ve read a series as long as I have this one I’m really reluctant to give up on it, but my patience is nearing an end.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    I’ve read them all too. I liked some more than others, in general did enjoy the prequels, and I agree with Michael that most of the recent ones have not been great. They are too long, too samey, too endless in getting to the point already. But, as George rightly points out, they are good, fast travel reads.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, you and I are in complete agreement on the Jack Reacher series. I think the early books are the strongest. Lee Child devised a template for his novels that he still uses today. Books sales remain strong so Child probably figures “Why should I change?”

  4. Jerry House

    George, BLUE MOON is completely over the top. Reacher tries to help an old man in a city that is split down the middle by rival Albanian and Ukrainian gangs and in doing so accidentally sets off a war between the two outfits. Coincidence plays a big part in the blood bath that follows (the body count is higher than the number of fingers and toes on my extended family). As always, Reacher is working against the clock and against impossible odds. The book is almost a parody of the series, yet Lee Child’s prose is as vivid and fast-moving as always and it led me racing to the finish line. I really liked the book and it was only after I finished it did I say, “Wait. What…?” Final verdict: It was good while it lasted, especially if you are looking for an enjoyable way to pass an evening.

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, your review of BLUE MOON coincides with many of the other other reviews I’ve read about that book. Huge body count, breath-less action, over-the-top plotting. I’ll probably read it in 2020.

  5. Rick Robinson

    Barbara has read all but the most recent, which is on her library hold list and will show up eventually. I have read none, but keep thinking when I get through a bunch of other things I’ll try one. If I don’t want to do the prequels, what’s a good one to try? I think she may have given me one to try, but I don’t know the title.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, KILLING FLOOR captures the essence of the Jack Reacher series. But, as Steve has pointed out, there’s a sameness to later books.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, I could not binge on the Jack Reacher series. I’m reserving them for 2020 travel. Steve is right about the samey aspects of the books.


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