Written by Graeme McGaw

Well, love it or hate it – and I’m sure most people hate it – the new Jack Reacher movie is out. However a lot of people LOVED it and are looking for more Jack Reacher – so I thought I would write this article listing the Top 10 Jack Reacher Books.

Just so you know my background – the Reacher books are my favourite books ever. I’ve read each one at least 3-4 times, and the ones at the top of this list I’ve read a few times more. I know the #1 book I’ve read 8 times and am coming up for a 9th reading soon. If you go with ANY of these books, you won’t be disappointed.

If you want to see the publication and chronological order of the Jack Reacher books, click here.

And don’t worry – this is practically a spoiler-free version of the Top 10 Jack Reacher books. I will be adding a brief description and some high points but I’ll be sure to be vague, so you can enjoy them yourselves without any spoilers. I’ve also listed the best place to buy that particular Reacher novel afterwards.

#10 Best Jack Reacher Book: The Enemy

The Enemy(2004) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

The Enemy was the very first flashback novel that Lee Child wrote, going back to 1990 while Reacher was still in the Military. It involves a general being murdered, and Reacher being sent on the case. This was a solid book that gave us good insight into the Jack Reacher in the military, and was a great mystery.

#9 Best Jack Reacher Book: One Shot

One Shot(2005) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

The one they made the movie about. Everyone loves snipers, and that’s what you have here. 5 murders in 6 shots is how the book starts, and the sniper utters just 4 words when caught: “Get me Jack Reacher”. They can’t get him Jack Reacher. Why? Because Reacher already saw the news, and Reacher is already on his way! This was a thrilling book from start to finish.

#8 Best Jack Reacher Book: Worth Dying For

Worth Dying For(2010) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

The sequel to 61 Hours this is Jack Reacher at his best. Put him in a small town, spread it across a short time period, and put him up against a bunch of guys who he gets to beat the crap out of. Even better is due to what happens in 61 Hours Reacher isn’t at his best. A fantastic story full of action, with one of the best kill scenes in the history of books!

#7 Best Jack Reacher Book: 61 Hours

61 Hours(2010) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

What I really like about Lee Child is he isn’t afraid to try new techniques. This is one of those – where the whole book is basically a countdown. Prior to the book coming out too, the rumour was that the 61 hours was a countdown to Reachers death. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book fast enough. This was a great book and a lot of humour on it too – with other people doing the “______ said nothing” gimmick, along with Reacher.

#6 Best Jack Reacher Book: Bad Luck and Trouble

Bad Luck And Trouble(2007) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

Again, Lee Child isn’t afraid to try new things. Loner Jack Reacher is the secret of his success – but this time he meets up with all his old military buddies. This book really captured the atmosphere of the places they were in and painted an amazing picture. I still get goosebumps thinking of one scene in the novel, where the four of them are walking around, a gunman appears behind them and shoots, and….well, you’ll have to read the book to find the outcome of that.

#5 Best Jack Reacher Book: Running Blind

Running Blind(2000) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

Known in the UK as The Visitor. This was the 4th Reacher book and Lee Child again extended his depth by focusing more on a murder-mystery. It also has a fantastic opening that really defines Reacher, and the back-and-forth between Reacher and the FBI is fantastic. I know quite a few people who will think this one is too high on the list – but it’s one book that I find is a fantastic story and even though I know the outcome, I continue to go back to it again and again.

#4 Best Jack Reacher Book: The Hard Way

The Hard Way(2006) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

The opening of this book is fantastic. Reacher, who never drinks coffee in the same place twice, decides to actually drink coffee in the same place twice. This results in Reacher being involved in a million dollar kidnapping, but not everything is as it seems. Lee Child writes a fantastic story here with a very satisfying ending.

#3 Best Jack Reacher Book: The Affair

The Affair(2011) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

One of the more recent Reacher books – this one is a personal favourite. I actually read it, finished it and then read it again immediately. It goes back to Reachers last days in the Military. What’s funny is I read the reason Lee Child went into the past in this novel, was because Reacher hadn’t had sex in the last two books and wouldn’t in the next book in chronological order. Child thought Reacher shouldn’t go without sex in 3 novels in a row, which is why he wrote this.

Whether true or not – Reacher does have sex in this book. A LOT of it – surprisingly descriptive scenes too. But where the book really shines is you can tell how much fun Lee Child was having while writing Reacher. It’s the typical Reacher storyline -he’s in a small town, investigating a mystery. But the character of Reacher in this book was amazing, and there are a lot of suspenseful parts to it.

#2 Best Jack Reacher Book: Killing Floor

Killing Floor(1997) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

The very first Jack Reacher book. It has won numerous awards and for good reason – it does an amazing job at introducing you to Jack Reacher, and creating a great character right off the bat. Most characters take a few books to get nailed down – but Child gets Reacher practically perfect on his very first outing. Add in a fantastic story that keeps you going – just when you think you’re getting closer the door closes – and it’s almost the best book Lee Child has ever written.

Almost.

#1 Best Jack Reacher Book: Persuader

Persuader(2003) Best Hardcover PriceBest Paperback PriceBest Kindle Price

The opening chapter of Persuader is one of the best chapters in any book I’ve ever read. A wild start that ends in a manner where you know you’re in this book for the long haul. There’s an extremely interesting and intriguing main storyline, with a back story that gets you emotionally hooked in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Then you have Paulie, who is probably Reachers biggest arch rival to date. Here’s just a slight portion to help you understand:

“I kicked him in the kidney. It was the kind of kick that would have sent a football out of the stadium and into the parking lot. It would have cracked a utility pole. It would have put most guys in the hospital all by itself. It would have killed some of them.

It had about as much effect on Paulie as a polite tap on the shoulder. He didn’t even make a noise. He just put both hands on the door frame and slowly pushed himself upright.”

Awesome. Those are what I feel are the Top 10 Jack Reacher / Lee Child Novels – if you agree or disagree then post in the comments below. Although surely no-one can disagree with the #1 choice, Persuader.

The Worst Jack Reacher Books:

And let’s round this off with, in my opinion, the Top Worst Jack Reacher books. Thankfully only a few make the list of Worst Jack Reacher books and ones you can skip.

Nothing To Lose is the one I hate the most. I just found it an incredibly dull book with some ridiculous scenes – in particular, when the whole town comes out to form a human wall and block Reacher from entering. Another bad one was A Wanted Man – this book just seemed to build and build, with a payoff that just seemed so unlike Jack Reacher.

Die Trying was another one. It had its moments, but when I go back and read the Reacher series from the beginning, which I do every year or so, I skip this one now. There were just too many boring parts to it.

What Reacher books do you hate? Post in the comments below!

If you want to see the publication and chronological order of the Jack Reacher books, click here.


Order of Books » Blog » Top 10 Jack Reacher Books
  • Le Chiffre

    Thank you for sharing this list! I’m guilty of falling in love with Tom Cruise’s character in the movie first. Earlier this year I found a few Reacher novels at garage sales and thrift shops. Luckily one of them was The Killing Floor which I soon started. A couple chapters in, I sought the remaining novels out and ordered the rest online. I’ve finished that novel and am several chapters into Die Trying now. Needless to say, even though I’m not even two books in, I’m hooked! Reacher is amazing. It’s also helped me regain my passion for reading, regrettably something I lost interest in for several years.

  • Doc

    I just started the series. And am on book 4. Killing Floor was greatness.Die Trying started weak, but got better about halfway through. Tripwire was pretty good. I am not too crazy about Running Blind. I hope the series has some more great ones like Killing Floor.

  • Rizal

    I completely agree that Persuader is the undisputed #1. Deeply satisfying from the first sentence to the last.

    I categorize his books as really, really good; really good; ok; and boring.

    Really, really good: Persuader.

    Really good: Worth Dying For, Tripwire, One Shot, Gone Tomorrow, The Enemy, The Affair, Killing Floor.

    Really good (but slightly bizarre): Die Trying.

    Ok: Echo Burning, Bad Luck and Trouble.

    Boring: The Visitor/Running Blind, Without Fail, The Hard Way, 61 Hours, A Wanted Man.

  • Pmarsh

    This is a great list, I definitely think Persuader is the best. And agree about A Wanted Man, Die Trying, and Nothing to Lose.

  • Bill Kendall

    I have just read Persuader and actually thought it was the worst up to now, I thought it was too complicated and hard to follow,however it was interesting waiting to see how Reacher would beat Paulie.

  • Porhatai

    Honestly, I am surprised that this series is a hit. I bought the first book, Killing Floor, out of a good review and didn’t like it very much. He lost me since half of the book. But since everybody says it is good I keep reading. Didn’t like Die Trying either and now I am reading Tripwire. If I still couldn’t like this one I think I might give up.

  • jess

    Bad luck and trouble resonated well with me . I enjoyed running blind because I didn’t expect its ending . Looking forward to persuader which I hear is the best JR novel

  • Rick Dufay

    Nothing to Lose is truly awful. If not for Child’s distinctive writing style I’d swear someone else wrote it. Easily his worst. The best one? I’d go with Bad Luck and Trouble.

  • 3eyedjohnny

    Just got started and figured I’d start at the beginning (Killing Floor). I’m confused as to why all the love and accolades. I’m trudging through it (page 234) and wondering when it’s going to get exciting/good/well-written or something —- anything.
    If Killing Floor is the 2nd best in the series…I’m done when I finish this book.

  • Fletch

    I’ve read a couple of the books, and while I like the character of Jack Reacher and the stories are interesting, I just find some of the violence in the books a bit too much for me. I know they are supposed to be thrillers and all, but some things are too much (the torture part in Gone Tomorrow, etc).