A few months ago, we reviewed Blue Moon, the last Jack Reacher book written solely by Lee Child. This was a turning point for Jack Reacher, and all of his future escapades will be written by Andrew Child. The Sentinel was written by both authors, as a transition novel.
I’m one of those readers who loves a good mystery/thriller series. When I first discovered Jack Reacher (in Nothing to Lose) I was hooked, and I binged through all of the available books at the time.
But like all series (books or T.V. shows), Reacher quickly became formulaic and predictable. The idiosyncrasies become more noticeable and pronounced over time, while the action scenes blur together.
The Sentinel continues to provide the hard-hitting brute fights that Jack Reacher is famous for. Andrew Child has prepared for the task of putting Reacher into conflict, and violently getting him out of it. If you read the Reacher books for these exciting fights, you won’t be disappointed.
This new author, though, has lost some of the plot-building mystery that made some of the earlier Reacher stories interesting. Frankly, the series was starting to run out of good ideas before Andrew Child took over. But as I was reading The Sentinel, I really felt that they were scraping the bottom of the barrel for plot ideas.
Check out our review of The Sentinel below! And read all the way to the end to get an exclusive first look at E.L. Haines’ first (and only) Jack Reacher short story, Long Arms!
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher Books in Reading Order
For the most part, the best Jack Reacher books can be read in any order. They were not written in chronological order. Only a few books have some minor continuity (mostly about Major Susan Turner, Reacher’s successor in the Army Special Investigators). Even these books can easily be understood and enjoyed in any order, though.
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 (One of the best Jack Reacher books, 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.)
Jack Reacher Movies
The Sentinel Review
New And Improved
While some parts of the plot fall short of fans’ expectations, Andrew Child adds some new literary devices that Lee Child never tried.
For example, the opening scene in the book involves Jack Reacher visiting a music club to listen to a local blues band. There is some precedent for this: in previous books, Reacher has demonstrated a taste for blues guitarists.
This opening scene doesn’t actually have much to do with the rest of the book. It’s an odd way to introduce a new book, by a new author. Until you get to the last page of the book.
Andrew Child is making it clear that under a new author, Reacher will be following new rules. And in defiance of his old rules (Never Go Back, for example) he turns around and goes back to visit the same club that he visited in the first chapter.
Not only is this a way for Andrew Child to leave his mark for a new era of Jack Reacher books, but it’s also referred to in literary circles as “frame structure.” When a book re-introduces a theme, a scene, or a motif at the end of the book that initially appeared at the beginning of the book, it wraps up the entire picture within a frame.
Old And Unimproved
By the 20th book, Lee Child was struggling to create unique villains for Reacher to fight. Already, the readers could tell that he was repeating characters. I get it, it’s hard to create new and interesting characters with unique motivations.
Andrew Child kinda went the other way on that. He used tried-and-true villains. Nazis and Soviet Russians. Not even modern Russian, either. I mean, we have a perfectly reasonable Russian dictator in 2020 to blindly follow, so using Stalinist villains seemed, well, dated. It’s like Andrew Child learned everything about Russians from old James Bond movies.
The Nazis were weird, also. We all know that neo-Nazi fascism is a thing, but most of us know that it’s a different thing than Hitler’s German nationalism. Neo-Nazis don’t memorize Hitler’s birthday or keep Hitler portraits around the house. I don’t think that they necessarily associate with WWII war criminals either.
In this book we discover that Reacher has a particular vendetta against Neo-Nazis. And that’s because his mother was in the French Resistance during WWII. That’s just a weird connection to try to force.
The Recommendation: Don’t Expect The Same Jack Reacher
The Reacher legacy is changing, and there’s no way to avoid that. If, like me, you have been reading the Reacher novels for several years, you will notice the differences. Maybe you’ll appreciate them. Maybe you’ll miss the old style.
The new Jack Reacher isn’t very different. Only the most die-hard fans will notice. And in many ways, this new author brings improvements to a style that was becoming stale.
Check out The Sentinel. Comment below, tell us if you liked it as much as the Lee Child books.
Reacher is the big hero who uses small sentences. Sparrow is the small hero who uses big sentences. Subscribe to our e-mail list using the button below, so that you’ll always get his latest news and updates!
Also, check out E.L. Haines’ first attempt at fan fiction! It’s meant to be a parody of the traditional Reacher narrative style and textual elements. Let us know if you love it or hate it in the comments below!
Long Arms—A Jack Reacher Short Story
Reacher sat in a booth in the diner, sipping coffee. It was his second refill, or his third overall cup. Reacher liked the numbers two and three. They were both prime numbers. The only consecutive prime numbers in the entire number system. Reacher liked prime numbers. Almost as much as he liked coffee. Maybe even more than he liked diners.
The waitress came by and offered to refill his cup. A fourth cup would ruin his prime number record, but Reacher had a rule: never turn down free coffee. The waitress smiled at him and poured. She had dark skin and a round face with pleasant features. Reacher wondered if she had native American heritage. Possibly Algonquin. Which would make sense, because Reacher was in Alaska.
Reacher had a rule: never go to the same place twice. And since he had pretty much seen all of the 48 continental United States, that left only Alaska and Hawaii, and it’s impossible to hitchhike to Hawaii. So, Alaska it was.
Over at the bar, a trucker was finishing his eighth beer and ordering his ninth. Neither eight, nor nine, was a prime number. Some people have no class. But eight was two raised to the third power, and nine was three raised to the second power, so that was something. Reacher liked multiplying numbers in his head. Almost as much as he liked hitting other people in the head.
“Do you think that’s intelligent?” the waitress asked the trucker. “The roads are icy and you’ve already had a lot to drink.”
“Don’t patronize me, woman,” the trucker responded, in surprising lucidity and with unexpected vocabulary. In fact, he spoke in nearly the exact same voice as Reacher. “Also, there is a pedantic difference between intelligence and wisdom. If anything, drunk driving is unwise, not unintelligent.”
Reacher could tell something was wrong. His long career as a Major in the 110th MP Division had trained him to notice danger when it was nearby. In this case, the danger was a drunk driver planning to take his truck out on icy roads.
Reacher had a rule: never get involved. But he always did anyway.
“You just used the word ‘patronize,’” Reacher said, not loudly, not softly, but just enough to get the trucker’s attention. And everyone else’s attention, it turned out. An entire diner full of truckers turned their heads to look at Reacher. “The literal meaning of ‘patronize’ means ‘to be a customer.’ You are literally patronizing the waitress. Not the other way around.”
The trucker scowled. “Are you intentionally trying to start a fight with me?”
Reacher had a rule: never start fights. But always finish them. So he smashed his elbow into the trucker’s face. The trucker went down, hard.
But seven other truckers stood up. Seven was a nice prime number. Reacher liked prime numbers. Almost as much as he liked hitting other people in the head.
Reacher slid out of his booth and stood up. He began his speech. “Fellas. You don’t know this yet, but you’ve already lost this fight. Think about it. You’re nothing but a bunch of fat truck drivers. I’m an unknown variable. Think of me like a heart attack. I strike without warning. I put people in the hospital. Heart disease is the number one killer in America. You don’t want to be another casualty of heart disease. Go back to your country-fried steak and eggs.”
The smart move would have been for them to all pile on top of him. Reacher was a big man, but not even a big man can escape a dog pile of seven fat truck drivers. But these weren’t smart men. They didn’t go for smart moves.
One of them smashed his beer bottle on the table, leaving him with a jagged-edged glass dagger. Reacher knew he would have to deal with him first. He spun around and elbowed the bottle-holding trucker in the neck. The second trucker went down, hard.
The next two truckers tried to attack Reacher in unison, but Reacher stuck out both elbows and hit them both in their groins. With loud groans, truckers 3 and 4 went down, hard.
The fifth trucker was all the way on the other side of the diner. About 12 feet away. That trucker reached under his table and pulled out a shotgun. Reacher wasn’t worried. Most people can still miss with a shotgun at that range. Reacher slammed his elbow down on top of the shotgun-wielding trucker’s head. He went down, hard.
Trucker number six looked like he might have once been a Canadian Mountie. Reacher had never fought a Canadian Mountie before. The Mountie performed a series of flashy punches and kicks, meant to intimidate Reacher, but Reacher wasn’t intimidated. Reacher had learned fighting from the U.S. Army. He didn’t use flashy punches or kicks. Reacher fought dirty. He elbowed the Mountie in the rib cage, and then planted his feet and elbowed the Mountie in the back of the neck. The Canadian Mountie went down, hard.
The last trucker panicked and bolted for the front door of the diner. He got outside, and started sprinting across the snow-packed parking lot toward his truck. Reacher swung his right elbow at the trucker’s feet, tripping him up. The trucker fell, face first, into a snow drift. He was dead on impact.
The waitress stood in shock, surveying the carnage in her diner. Reacher approached her, trying to seem non-threatening. “Can I get the check, please?” She wordlessly handed him a slip of paper. $2.39 was his total, with tax. 239 was a prime number. Reacher liked prime numbers. He paid in cash, as usual, adding a nice tip on top because the waitress had such a pleasant smile.
Reacher had a rule: always tip the waitress at the diner.