How Has Jack Reacher Changed Over the Years?

How Has Jack Reacher Changed Over the Years?

Killing Floor (1997)

In Lee Child’s first nail-biting instalment of his iconic series, we meet Jack Reacher, the loveable rogue with a thirst for justice.

Upon being discharged from the army, Jack Reacher’s fragmented military life has left him rootless. Unable to adjust back to civilian life, the noble loner-cum-lothario drifts across the United States and has no family, no clothes and no ties.

He arrives in Margrave, Georgia and is promptly arrested for a murder he did not commit. But when things take a personal turn and new evidence unlocks a larger conspiracy, Reacher must utilise all of his specialised skills if he wants to stop this deadly, corrupt force.

Die Trying (1998)

If Reacher thought his troubles were over, he was wrong. On a bright Chicago afternoon, while wandering down a sidewalk, Reacher and an unknown woman are abducted and forced into a van at gunpoint. In the suburbs, a dentist is forced into the trunk of his Lexus.

Where they are going or what their captors want from them is unknown. But when Reacher and his beautiful femme-fatal are switched into another vehicle, leaving the dentist in a pool of gasoline with just a match for company, their troubles are only just beginning.

But the woman is not what she seems and while the FBI are desperate to rescue her, Reacher has the snipers aimed squarely at his back.

Tripwire (1999)

This time we find Jack enjoying a sleepy stay in Key West. While working two jobs, he bumps into a PI called Costello who happens to be looking for him. When someone turns up dead, things start to heat up. Reacher jets off across the country, chasing down leads and beating up baddies; but there’s more to this story than he bargained for in this mystery stemming back to the Vietnam War.

As more of his home life is revealed, we start seeing more of Reacher’s big, hidden heart from behind his feral demeanour. With returning characters and a backstory that will make you fall in love with Reacher even more, what this lacks in action it makes up for in edge-of-your-seat suspense.

The Visitor (2000)

Also known by its US title, Running Blind, we encounter Reacher mid brawl with some racketeering thugs. Despite his good deed, he ends up being questioned by the FBI. When they realise who he is, he is questioned again about the murder of two women he previously worked with. He had handled their sexual harassment case and it seems he perfectly fits their killer’s profile.

The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been. No one can be trusted in this FBI-entrenched case of intrigue, bitterness and betrayal. In a world of bizarre murder methods, rivalling crime lords and a body count that keeps stacking up, Reacher must race against the clock if he wants to save himself and his loved ones.

Echo Burning (2001)

Since Jodi left for London, Reacher has continued his nomadic lifestyle and we find him in Texas. After a bar brawl goes bad, Reacher opts to hitchhike his way out of trouble. Here he meets a fiery Mexican beauty, called Carmen Greer.

Carmen, it emerges, is another damsel in distress – her abusive husband is soon to be out of prison and she needs protection. By now we all know that Reacher’s Achilles Heel is a pretty lady with a problem, but with multiple deceits, feuds and betrayals that stem back generations, Reacher may have got himself in too deep…

Without Fail (2002)

In Child’s sixth novel, we find Reacher hitching a ride into Atlantic City from California. Despite all of his efforts to stay off the grid, he is found by Agent M.E. Froelich; yet another beautiful woman with a special request.

Froelich reports that the Vice-President-Elect is receiving threatening letters and she needs to know how Reacher would kill him – hypothetically, of course. Reacher needs to use his expert know-how to identify the weaknesses in order to protect the new VP from assassination. But nothing is as it seems in the world of Jack Reacher and with a covert group of killers already hot on their trail, Reacher has more at stake than ever.

Persuader (2003)

It seems Reacher just can’t get a break and with such a long career of fighting bad guys, his past has finally caught up with him. This time we meet the crime-fighting wanderer neck deep in DEA drama. Reacher needs to catch Zachary Beck, a notorious arms smuggler.

But it’s Francis Xavier Quinn that he is looking for: a ghost from his past with many horrific murders under his belt. Jack is not one to leave loose ends and revenge has never tasted so sweet. Subtlety has never been Reacher’s strong point, so expect tense shoot-outs, vile villains and beautiful women who are not what they seem…

The Enemy (2004)

Reacher was born into a military family and eventually joined himself. He was a rising star in the Army, but every hero has a case that breaks him, changes him, and turns him from a noble solider into a renegade. For Reacher, this case happened in 1990 as we step back in time to see the man before he became a maverick.

When a high-ranking general is found dead in a seedy hotel room with his suitcase stolen, Reacher must control the situation. But with the body count rising and a conspiracy seeped deep in the Army’s world, Reacher finds himself on a deadly hunt that proves closer to him than he thought.

One Shot (2005)

Reacher finds himself entrenched in a vicious case like no other. Victims have been shot, seemingly at random and without motivation by a lone gunman firing from a parking garage. The police think they’ve got the guy, a former Army infantry sniper, James Barr. He declares he is innocent and makes one request: find Jack Reacher.

At first Reacher is convinced of his guilt, but as the plot thickens the truth becomes more elusive. But if it isn’t Barr, then who would want to set him up? “One shot, one kill” is the creed of the military sniper and this is the popular instalment that was the first to be converted into film, in the 2012 blockbuster starring Tom Cruise.

The Hard Way (2006)

This instalment opens in New York City, where ex-military cop Reacher has just witnessed a million-dollar exchange – and it’s only the start of his troubles. Edward Lane – the crooked director of a private military firm offering ‘soldiers for hire’ – made the payment, and he’s willing to make even more if it means getting his family back from their kidnapper.

Lane hires Reacher to help track down the lethal kidnapper; but the deeper the trail leads, the more Reacher uncovers about his employer’s past – and a dark secret that he wants to keep there.

Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)

Ten years on from the military, our hero Reacher thinks he has no ties – no phone, no address, no way of finding him; that is, until an ex-team member from his unit finds him using a unique signal.

Why is she so keen on finding him? A man they both served with has met a gruesome end, falling to his death from a helicopter high over the California desert. After realising the elite team of army investigators is being ticked off one by one, she and Reacher get the old gang back together to get the bottom of a dark mystery – one that leads to the heart of international terrorism.

Nothing to Lose (2008)

Reacher’s a man with nothing to lose; so when he finds himself at odds with an entire town that wants him dead, he’s certainly not going to hold back.

Back in the town of Hope, Reacher establishes an operations base against neighbouring town Despair. Something dodgy is going on in Despair – there’s a secretive, walled-off industrial site, a legion of armed and expertly-trained military cops, and a small plane that leaves every night, returning exactly seven hours later…

Determined to find out what’s going on, Reacher teams up with the beautiful female cop in charge of Hope to expose the secrets of the other town.

Gone Tomorrow (2009)

Trouble seems to find Reacher wherever he goes – in this case, it follows him underground to the New York City subway.

Reacher learnt the eleven physical and behavioural characteristics that suicide bombers display when he was in Israel; now, seated in a subway car at 2am with five other passengers, one particular individual – Susan Mark – is displaying ten of them.

Faced with a difficult situation, Reacher ends up in a cat-and-mouse game through the streets of New York. Will he continue his subsequent investigations when the FBI and Homeland Security warn him off the case? You bet he will.

61 Hours (2010)

Reacher is back on form in this race-against time-thriller, finding himself stranded in the town of Bolton, South Carolina, when a tour bus he was travelling on crashes during a heavy snowstorm.

Meanwhile, an elderly woman in Bolton is about to testify against a sinister drug gang who would rather she kept quiet. Reacher wants to keep moving, but he can’t. There’s an efficient assassin on his way into town, and over the next 61 hours Child’s hulky protagonist must work with the local police force to keep her alive long enough to see that justice is served – risking his own life in the process.

Worth Dying For (2010)

Here we find Reacher in the corn country of Nebraska, recovering from his injuries and trying to hitch a ride to Virginia. But he soon falls foul to a terrifying local gang, the Duncans.

The Duncans want Reacher out of their sights – they’ve got past secrets to keep secret, and connections to a criminal food network that spreads halfway around the world. But rather than distancing himself from the situation, of course, Reacher can’t help but sink further and further into a troubling adventure.

Worth Dying For contains gripping action scenes and some of Child’s most sinister and calculated villains, who rule by fear and are prepared to do anything to succeed.

The Affair (2011)

Set in an earlier time than the previous Jack Reacher novels (1997 in fact, six months before the opening of Killing Floor), The Affair gives the reader a chance to learn more about Reacher’s background, helping us to understand more about his past and present, his values and insecurities.

Child keeps the pace and action moving forwards as narrator Dick Hill describes Reacher’s last investigation before leaving the army.

A woman has been murdered in a small Mississippi town, close to the Kellum army base. Reacher is sent undercover as a civilian, working with the local police force to get to the truth of what happened – discovering more murders along the way.

A Wanted Man (2012)

Things pick up where Worth Dying For left off. Jack is still trying to hitch a ride to Virginia; when he does get picked up on an Interstate highway in the dead of night, he gets far more from his suspicious travelling companions than he bargained for.

Meanwhile, further up the road a man has been stabbed to death by what appears to be a professional killer. As the FBI swoops onto the scene, and other secretive government types get involved, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary homicide case.

Cue a tense journey filled with furious twists and a violent conclusion.

Never Go Back (2013)

Reacher has finally made his way east to Virginia near Washington D.C, and to the headquarters of the old army unit that he once commanded.

Hoping to find Major Susan Turner in charge, he instead finds that she has been arrested and that he himself has been charged with two crimes. According to military law, he must now be reassigned to the unit and under new head Morgan’s orders until the charges have been cleared.

As Reacher struggles against corrupt forces, we are kept guessing about his innocence and Child uses rolling chapters, fast-paced action and sharp dialogue to keep us on our toes.

Personal (2014)

Ex-military cop Reacher is pulled back into service once again, this time for the State Department and the CIA to help track down an old foe.

In Paris, there has been an assassination attempt on the President of France – and the bullet was from the US. Not many snipers can shoot from the best part of a mile away, but John Kott is a particularly good aim. He’s been released from prison, and is back on the loose.

Along with rookie analyst Casey Nice – just one of the new characters we’re introduced to – Reacher must stop Kott once again before the upcoming G8 summit in London. With a host of thugs, mobsters and double agents in their way, it certainly won’t be easy.

Make Me (2015)

Still on the lonesome road, Reacher gets off the train at a small town called Mother’s Rest. Curious about the name of the place, he decides to spend a few days there and find out more from the locals.

But after falling for one local – ex-FBI agent-turned private investigator Michelle Chang, who mistakes Reacher for her partner – the fleeting visit turns into a complicated quest through LA, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco, and the dark underworld of the internet.

This multi-layered story sees Reacher a bit older, wiser and softer… could Chang be the one to tame him and make him finally settle down? Surely not…

Night School (2016)

Those worried that Reacher was going to be married off will be pleased with this prequel instalment that returns to his past, along with some other well-known characters in their younger years.

Child takes us back to 1996, when Reacher was a major in the US army. After receiving a medal one morning, Reacher is sent back to school. By the time nightfall comes around, he and his fellow students – an FBI agent and a CIA analyst – are completely off radar.

The reason for the trio being placed in the ‘school’ soon becomes clear. A dangerous and mysterious transaction has been overheard, and the government only knows the asking price – one hundred million dollars. Reacher and co are tasked with discovering what is being sold and by whom, working inside the system but outside of the law.

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