In this new series of book reviews, we plan to introduce you to some of the best serial literature out there. And to get you excited about reading these series, we’re skipping straight to the best books!
Here at TheShortStoryTeller we have already reviewed several of the Jack Reacher novels. But with more than twenty Reacher novels on the bookshelves, we understand that getting into this series might seem daunting.
So that’s why we picked our #1 top Reacher novel to review. The series is unordered, which means you can pick up any one of these books and expect to fully understand the plot and characters without starting with the first published book.
It goes without saying that we enjoyed One Shot and we highly recommend reading it. It would seem that Hollywood agrees with us, since this is also the book that they based the first Jack Reacher movie upon.
Still not convinced? Still wondering what these books are all about? Read the review and we’re sure you’ll want to pick up this book!
Jack Reacher Books in Chronological Order
For the most part, the best Jack Reacher books can be read in any order. They were not written in chronological order. In fact, we recommend getting into Jack Reacher by starting with One Shot—you can ignite your interest by comparing it to the Tom Cruise movie.
If you want to read the books in chronological order (instead of order of publication), however, here is the list of all of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books in order (both novels and short stories).
Lee Child has written some of these books in first person narration, but most of them in third person. The books written in first person are mentioned in the list below:
The Enemy (Published in 2004, this book was set eight years before the series officially starts. This book is written in first person.)
Night School (Published in 2016, this book includes more of Reacher’s Army career.)
The Affair (Published in 2011, this prequel explains the details of Reacher’s final Army assignment before quitting the service. First person.)
Killing Floor (This was the first published Jack Reacher novel in 1997, written in first person narration.)
Persuader (First person narration)
One Shot (Best-In-Series, and the first to be made into a movie.)
Gone Tomorrow (First person narration)
61 Hours (This is the first book to mention the new commander of the 110th Special Investigators, Major Susan Turner. The next three books describe Reacher’s personal mission to meet her.)
Never Go Back (Another one of the best Jack Reacher books. Reacher finally meets his successor from the 110th Special Investigation Unit. Also, does Reacher have a daughter?)
Personal (First person narration.)
No Middle Name (Short story collection.)
The Sentinel (The first Jack Reacher novel co-authored by Andrew Grant.)
The Protagonist (No Spoilers)
Not many people know this, but our favorite Short Story Teller was inspired (both in comparison and in contrast) by Lee Child’s famous wandering protagonist, his Jack Reacher character.
There is a genre of fiction that is often (misleadingly) referred to as the American Western. Traditionally, this genre involved cowboys and gunfights, but historically, the Western hero archetype evolved from the medieval knight errant, or the Chinese Wuxia. These heroes are not defined by their period, but by their restless travels, or wanderlust.
This type of hero is effectively homeless, and travels from place to place in search of adventure. Each story begins when he arrives in a new town and becomes aware of the local conflict. Each story ends when he rides off into the sunset (or departs in some other dramatic fashion).
The Jack Reacher character is perhaps the best modern example of the wandering hero. Each novel begins in a new place. Reacher sees injustice, and fights the villains to restore justice. He inevitably leaves this place (and all of his new friends) behind at the end of each novel.
How It Compares To The Movie
Okay, we get it: Jack Reacher is big, Tom Cruise is small. Some fans simply cannot get over this irreconcilable casting error. However, here at TheShortStoryTeller we like to focus on other aspects than simply physical appearance.
As we were reviewing the book/movie this time around, we noticed how the movie dialogue is about 95% true to the book. And Cruise delivers Reacher’s lines with the sarcastic wit and intelligence that we would expect.
Most of the investigative clues are also true to the book, although the movie presents them in a slightly different order.
Two of the major side characters in the book, JAG officer Eileen Hutton and NBC reporter Ann Yanni, are missing from the movie. But all of the other characters are represented faithfully, and we were particularly impressed by how well Reacher’s itinerant nature was so quickly and clearly established in the movie.
In fact, I also think the movie represents the marksmanship aspect better than the book.
As far as screen adaptations go, One Shot is one of the most faithful to the source material, in our opinion.
Why This Book Is The Best (No Spoilers)
All Of The Qualities, None Of The Ridiculousness
We’ve read all of the Jack Reacher books (several times, in fact) and found that there are parts that we love and parts that we hate.
The well-written action and fight scenes
The careful and planned-out investigation
The tactfully-placed red herrings
The thrilling conclusions
How Jack Reacher has a supernatural alarm clock inside his head
How Reacher always uses his elbows to fight his enemies, at any range
How sometimes Reacher jumps to unreasonable conclusions to solve the mystery