The Jack Reacher novels are a staple of any serious military crime thriller’s bookshelf. Written by successful British author, Lee Child, the Jack Reacher series has sold over 100 million copies combined.
The premise of the Jack Reacher books revolves around the titular protagonist, Jack Reacher, who used to hold the position of Major in the Military Police as part of the U.S. Army.
When the books begin, Jack Reacher has left the army but continues to investigate crimes and bring criminals to justice.
At the start of the first Jack Reacher book, which is titled Killing Floor, Reacher is arrested on suspicion of a murder he has not committed.
The protagonist ultimately convinces the police that they have the wrong man and joins the investigation, with thrilling and potentially deadly consequences.
If you would like to read more crime thriller books like Jack Reacher, check out our list of 9 similar books.
Some are standalone novels while others are part of a series, but all explore the same themes of crime, heroism, and revenge.
If you have read all the Jack Reacher novels and want similar books to satisfy your crime thriller cravings, you will also love books like The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, Manhunter by Chris Ryan, and No Man’s Land by David Baldacci, plus 6 more exciting novels about crime and justice.
Themes In Jack Reacher
As you would probably expect from a series of books in the crime thriller genre, one of the main themes running through every single Jack Reacher novel is crime.
It can be said of the character Jack Reacher that although he doesn’t go looking for trouble, trouble always seems to find him.
Reacher lives a nomadic lifestyle, always moving from place to place, and near the beginning of each book, he somehow finds himself drawn into a new mystery with a crime to be solved.
The Archetypal Hero
Jack Reacher himself is a character who embodies the archetypal hero. His role in the plot line of every novel in the series is to walk into places and right the wrongs he finds there.
Much like the archetype of the heroic protagonist, he is a loner and doesn’t give away a lot of information about his past or his plans for the future.
Instead, he relies on his uncompromising sense of justice and combat skills to avenge victims of crime and prevent further destruction before disappearing to his next destination.
Vengeance And Justice
In addition to crime, vengeance, and justice are key themes in the Jack Reacher series.
When it comes to Jack Reacher’s moral compass, vengeance, and justice are often one and the same.
Reacher as a character is fairly self-righteous and believes that in many cases, taking revenge is the best form of justice.
Note that in most situations, Reacher’s revenge is not for himself, but for those who have been victimized by the criminal(s) in question.
Books Like Jack Reacher
If you’re looking for another military crime thriller series to get your teeth into, we recommend The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum.
You may already have seen the film, but trust us when we say that if you love Lee Child’s work, you’ll want to read these novels as well.
To start with, we recommend reading the first book, which is simply titled The Bourne Identity.
The book begins by introducing Jason Bourne, who has just been in combat in the Mediterranean Sea.
When he is rescued from the ocean, he doesn’t remember anything, including his own identity, but the mysterious implant in his hip leads him to chilling discoveries.
The Bourne Identity is a thought-provoking crime thriller that deals with the theme of morality, making it an excellent read for fans of Jack Reacher who feel compelled by the protagonist’s moral code.
- Compelling plot
- Fast-paced and thrilling
- Deals with complex psychological themes effectively
- Some repetitive dialogue
Themes: Crime, military, identity, memory, morality
Manhunter by Chris Ryan is a fast-paced, action-packed crime thriller, so it’s everything fans of Jack Reacher will be looking for in a follow-up read.
This novel is the first in a series in which the protagonist, soldier Josh Bowman, is selected to join an undercover unit in the SAS following a mobster’s deadly chemical attack at a royal wedding.
Like Jack Reacher, Josh Bowman is driven by a desire for vengeance – in this case, vengeance for his family, who were killed by a criminal gang.
Jack Reacher fans looking for a similar hero are sure to appreciate the parallels between Reacher and Bowman, as well as the nail-biting action this novel delivers from start to finish.
- Plot moves quickly
- Gripping storyline
- Partly based on the author’s experience
- Differences from other Chris Ryan novels may catch fans off guard
Themes: Crime, military, loss, revenge, mental health
David Baldacci is one of the most celebrated writers in the crime thriller genre, and No Man’s Land is one of this author’s most beloved works.
If you couldn’t put down the Jack Reacher books, you should pick up this one next.
In No Man’s Land, John Puller, a special forces agent, sets out to uncover the truth behind his mother’s disappearance many years ago, but a violent and vengeful adversary stands in his way.
Fans of the revenge arcs throughout the Jack Reacher series will love this book, as will those who are simply looking for more classic military crime thrillers to read.
It’s worth noting that No Man’s Land is the fourth book in the John Puller series, but it works as a standalone novel and can also be followed by other books in the series.
- Suspenseful and intriguing plot twists
- Well fleshed-out characters
- Action-packed and fast-paced
- Some unbelievable moments
Themes: Crime, military, secrets, family, revenge
How a Gunman Says Goodbye is the second book in Mackay’s four-book Glasgow Trilogy, but you can dive straight into this gripping thriller whether you’ve read the first book or not.
The protagonist in this novel is Frank MacLeod, a gunman approaching retirement.
When a mission goes awry, and Frank is faced with the possibility that his career might truly be at an end, he determines to do what remains to be done, despite the potential consequences.
This is a fascinating crime thriller novel that deals with the deep psychological impact of retiring from fighting crime (a parallel with Jack Reacher) as well as committing it, while also keeping readers on the edge of their seats.
- An interesting exploration of criminal psychology
- Exceptionally well-written
- Believable character development
- Slow-moving plot at times
Themes: Crime, retirement, beginnings and endings, age, mystery
If you love Jack Reacher but want something shorter and easier to get through after a 27-book series, A Brewing Storm by Richard Castle could be just what you need.
This is a short novella of around 106 pages and the first in a trilogy. Like Jack Reacher, Derrick Storm has retired from the Secret Service – an act that involved faking his own death.
Now, he must return to investigate a kidnapping, but the stakes are higher than ever, and solving the mystery will lead Storm into a labyrinth of personal and political secrets.
- Short and easy to read
- Full of twists and turns
- Lots of build-up and suspense
- A cliffhanger ending can feel unsatisfying
Themes: Crime, kidnapping, mystery, politics, secrets
Andy McNab is one of the biggest names in crime fiction, so we recommend his novel, Remote Control, for fans of Jack Reacher.
Remote Control is the first in a series of 21 books, so if you’ve been longing for a new crime thriller series, this book is a great place to start.
It follows Nick Stone, who has been forced to retire from the SAS and join British Intelligence after a botched mission.
After a brutal attack, Stone, like Reacher, goes on the run with the only survivor: a young girl, who is his only hope of identifying the criminals.
- Emotional yet action-filled plot
- Immersive, realistic dialogue
- Inspired by the author’s own experiences
- Pacing shifts from fast to slow throughout
Themes: Crime, mystery, survival, innocence versus experience
If you’re interested in fictional portrayals of the darker side of United States Intelligence and enjoyed Jack Reacher, you should read Hard Road by J.B. Turner.
This is the first installment in an eleven-book series. It centers around Jon Reznick, who works as a black-ops specialist and is grieving the death of his wife when an important mission goes wrong, resulting in him going on the run with the intended target.
When Reznick’s family is threatened once again, he must use all his resources and skills to apprehend those responsible – before it’s too late.
- Fast-paced and full of action
- Complex, interlinking plotlines
- In-depth, realistic characters
- Readers may need to suspend disbelief in places
Themes: Crime, grief, family, survival, mystery, politics
A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais is the penultimate book in a 19-book series.
This one is a little different since the protagonist isn’t in the military or the Special Forces.
Instead, Joe Pike is a regular man who accidentally ends up saving a woman from being abducted.
However, Joe’s act of heroism only leads him to uncover a web of crimes and secrets. He must now make life-or-death choices and question everything he thought he knew.
Despite being different from Jack Reacher in many ways, A Dangerous Man covers the same themes of crime, heroism, and revenge.
- Well-paced storyline
- Skillful writing
- Believable characters that inspire empathy
- Longer than necessary
Themes: Crime, secrets, mystery, revenge, heroism, morality, choices
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is another crime thriller that is quite different to Jack Reacher in a lot of ways but has enough similarities that fans of Lee Child’s work will be interested.
This novel follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and tough-as-nails hacker Lisbeth Salander as they are hired to investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger.
What they discover is beyond what either of them could have imagined and leads them into a thrilling and terrifying journey that spans the rest of this four-book series.
The heroics of the protagonists as well as the novel’s psychological yet action-packed approach to the themes of crime and justice will have Jack Reacher fans hooked until the end.
- Discusses important political and social issues
- Psychological depth and insight
- Thrilling mystery and action
- A long character list can be difficult to keep track of
Themes: Crime, mystery, psychology, morality, gender inequality, politics
There may be a lot of Jack Reacher books to get through, but there are also plenty of crime thrillers by other authors for Lee Child fans to delve into.
If your interest in Jack Reacher is mostly due to the series’ military themes, books like Manhunter, No Man’s Land, A Brewing Storm, How a Gunman Says Goodbye, Remote Control, Hard Road, and The Bourne Identity are perfect for you.
However, if you’d like to branch out into other types of crime thrillers that deal with similar themes while also exploring the mystery, thriller, and crime genres from other perspectives, try A Dangerous Man or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
All 9 books on our list are filled with action and adventure, in addition to insightful, emotional character portrayals.
Many of these books also deal with profound and relevant real-world themes such as politics, gender, and questions of morality, making for thought-provoking as well as exciting reading.
Each of our recommended books like Jack Reacher will keep you entertained for hours and may even introduce you to your new favorite crime thriller series, so get reading today!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Books Are In The Jack Reacher Series?
Lee Child has written 27 Jack Reacher novels. However, there is also a collection of short stories dedicated to the protagonist.
What Age Group Can Read Jack Reacher And Similar Books?
The Jack Reacher books were written for adults over the age of 18 since they contain some adult themes that would be inappropriate for minors. The same applies to the similar books we have recommended here.
Should The Jack Reacher Books Be Read In Order?
You don’t have to read the Jack Reacher books in the order in which they were published. Each story can be read on its own, although reading the books in order can help to provide a sense of structure.
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