The Best Reading Order For Lee Child books

Last Updated on April 28, 2020

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James Dover Grant, better known by his pseudonymous Lee Child, is a well-recognized author. He focuses primarily on thriller novels and is most popularly known for his Jack Reacher saga.

Since 1997, Child received 10 literary awards, so the quality of his books isn’t in doubt. 

The question, so, is not whether to read or not his work, but rather, in what order you should sink into it. 

We propose two different orders, and we hope this helps enhance your reading experience, by not skipping any important book or discovering a plot twist ahead of time. 


Start with Lee Child’s short stories!

Perhaps jumping straight into a full-on novel might be a bit overwhelming for some readers. If that’s your case, then we recommend you start with Child’s short story collections. The two recommended order of reading comes right after you are done with these wonderful tales and novellas.

  1. James Penney’s New Identity – 1999
  2. Guy Walks into a Bar – 2009
  3. Second Son – 2011
  4. Knowing you’re Alive – 2011
  5. Deep Down – 2012
  6. The Hollywood I Remember 2012
  7. High Heat – 2013
  8. Everyone Talks – 2013
  9. Not a Drill – 2014
  10. Good and Valuable Consideration – 2014
  11. No Room at the Motel  2014
  12. Small Wars – 2015
  13. The Picture of the Lonely Diner – 2015
  14. Maybe they Have a Tradition – 2016
  15. Faking a Murderer – 2017
  16. Too Much Time – 2017
  17. The Christmas Scorpion – 2017
  18. The Fourth Man – 2019

After getting a good sense of Child’s style, you should jump right into the Jack Reacher saga. It’s hard putting those books down, so make sure you have ample time before you dive in!

In publishing order

Child first published the Jack Reacher saga back in 1997, and it’s been a big hit. Though it’s not a linear story, it’s the way the author decided to release Jack’s adventures. Because of this, we recommend this as an ideal reading order, following the road Child set for the audience. 

This allows the reader to discover each twist and turn in the order intended by the author, even if certain books go back to Jack’s youth to reveal details and adventures the reader was not aware of.

  1. Killing Floor – 1997
  2. Die Trying – 1998
  3. Tripwire – 1999
  4. Running Blind – 2000
  5. Echo Burning – 2001
  6. Without Fail – 2002
  7. Persuader – 2003
  8. The Enemy – 2004
  9. One Shot – 2005
  10. The Hard Way – 2006
  11. Bad Luck and Trouble – 2007
  12. Nothing to Lose – 2008
  13. Gone Tomorrow – 2009
  14. 61 Hours – 2010
  15. Worth Dying For – 2010
  16. The Affair – 2011
  17. A Wanted Man – 2012
  18. Never Go Back – 2013
  19. Personal – 2014
  20. Make Me – 2015
  21. Night School – 2016
  22. No Middle Name – 2017
  23. The Midnight Line – 2017
  24. Past Tense – 2018
  25. Blue Moon – 2019

In chronological order

Sometimes, publishing order simply doesn’t do it for every reader. They don’t want to jump back and forth in time when following their hero’s adventures. They prefer knowing precisely how the events transpired in the way the protagonist experienced it.

There will be no peeks at the past and jumps to future events when reading Jack Reacher’s books this way. It’ll guide you through Jack’s adventures in the order he lived through them, and grant you a different outlook on the saga.

These three books occur soon before the Killing Floor, which was Child’s introduction of the character. It allows the reader to discover more about Reacher’s past before his adventures began.

Whatever order you decide to read Child’s books in, you’ll enjoy them greatly. Child is a skillful author, and his Jack Reacher saga is filled with thrilling twists and a charismatic, alluring protagonist.

Jack used to work as a major in the Military Police Corps in the USA. In 1997, he decided to quit his position, disenchanted by the reality of being a soldier. From that point on, he made a living by accepting odd jobs and investigating several crimes, having a craving for roaming the world aimlessly. He often finds himself in life-threatening situations, and on several occasions displays gestures of sympathy and kindness to the victims of violent crimes.

The Jack Reacher saga can be divided into those told from a first-person perspective and the ones narrated in the third person. The former is featured in 6 books, and the former, in 18. One of the novels narrated in the third person includes portions that switch to the second person instead, which is a rarity in most literary works. 

This saga has been adapted into film twice, with Tom Cruise playing the titular character. The first movie came out in 2012, and was based on the plot featured in the book “One shot”. The second one, reaching movie theaters in 2016, focused instead on the novel “Never go back”. Child seemed to approve of both movies, making a cameo in the second part as a TSA agent.

Lee Child has been described as mostly a commercial writer, and many of his literary decisions seem to be aimed at improving his book’s sales. A perfect example of this is the fact that one of Reacher’s parents was French instead of American. This detail was included in order to avoid ostracizing the international public. Child stands behind his works of fiction and has declared he does not believe there is anything wrong with the commercial nature of his books.

Are you a fan of Lee Child’s books? We would love to discover alternative reading orders to enjoy Jack Reacher’s story to the max! If you have an alternative order to suggest, let us know by tweeting at us @WiredForYouth!

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