THE TERMINAL LIST: Five Questions with Jack Carr


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Debut novels like this don’t come around too often. When they do, you better take note, because it’s a lot like seeing a shooting star. . . you’re not too sure when you’ll catch another one.

In Jack Carr’s case, it’s more like watching a star in the making. A former Navy SEAL, Carr has an intimate knowledge of the scenarios and skill sets often found in action thrillers and the genre’s fictional heroes. He’s the real deal, who, it turns out, can really write.

Carr’s protagonist, James Reece, is a good man with a lethal set of skills. Call it whatever you want — revenge, retribution, payback — Reece wants it after the government intentionally had his men, and later his family, killed. And when a man trained to kill suddenly has nothing left to live for, well, as readers will soon find out, he becomes a pretty serious problem for the bad guys.

As most Book Spy followers already know, this book is special because it’s actually my very first selection for the soon-to-be-launched Real Book Spy online book club! (For more info on that, click here.) I chose to kick things off with this book for a reason, which is actually pretty simple. . . 

Without question, I think Jack Carr’s The Terminal List is the most daring, controversial debut political action thriller since Vince Flynn’s iconic novel, Term Limits. Coincidentally, Carr is actually with the same publisher who launched Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series. And, he works with Emily Bestler (of Emily Bestler Books, an imprint of Atria Books at Simon & Schuster), who happens to be the only editor Flynn worked with in his career.

I’m not saying Carr’s Reece is the next Mitch Rapp, because the two do have major differences, but the comparisons are there and, believe me, they’re valid. 

Leading up to the release of The Terminal List, which comes out tomorrow (Tuesday, March 6th, 2018), I’ve gotten to know Jack Carr, who is a great guy. He and I will be hosting a Facebook Live session on Monday, March 19th, where I’ll interview him before turning it over to a reader Q&A session, so make sure you get this book right away, and that you get it read in time to take part in our scheduled event! 

Even though Carr is getting ready for his first book tour, he was nice enough to go on the record for our Five Questions segment. Check out the interview below, then keep scrolling to learn more about The Terminal List


The Terminal List: Five Questions with Jack Carr

TRBS: You’ve said you always wanted to be a Navy SEAL and an author — and now you finally get to check off both boxes. How long did it take you to write your first book, The Terminal List?

Carr: “From putting pen to paper, or in this case fingers to the keyboard, it took about a year and a half. Then the real work started: the re-reading, the editing and then more re-reading and editing before it was finally at a point where it was ready for submission. I remember how nervous and excited I was to finally mail it to Emily Bestler at Emily Bestler Books in New York. That was a day I’ll never forget.”

TRBS: Your hero, James Reece, is awesome. As a reader, who are some of your favorite protagonists, and who was your inspiration for Reece?

Carr: “James Reece is a combination of all sorts of people, both real and fictional, though not intentionally.  His career mirrors mine in that he was a prior enlisted SEAL who transitioned to the officer ranks, but that is where the similarities end.  I took quite a bit of artistic license to make him much tougher, stronger, smarter, wittier, skilled, and better looking than I ever was, or could ever be.  I wanted him to be likable and have flaws just like we all do.  I didn’t want to make him a stereotypical SEAL as is sometimes portrayed in the media.  I think one of the reasons he is resonating so well with readers is that I took the emotions I’d felt through different experiences over my time in the SEAL Teams and applied those feelings to a fictional character and narrative.  He’s a real guy that can flip the switch and get the job done when he needs to.

“I’ve been reading fictional thrillers as long as I can remember.  My mom was a librarian, so I grew up surrounded by books and was instilled with a love of reading from a very early age.  I felt a connection with Tom Clancy’s character John Clark very early on because of his SEAL lineage, so when Without Remorse came out I was thrilled, as it is essentially the John Clark origin novel.  I loved the protagonists created by Nelson DeMille and David Morrell growing up and devoured everything they wrote.  Later I discovered the characters of Scott Coleman and Mitch Rapp, and then Scott Harvath, all legends in the modern thriller genre.  One of my favorites is Bob Lee Swagger, introduced to us by Stephen Hunter in Point of Impact.  I can’t get enough of him and eagerly await his next adventure.”

TRBS: What’s it like being with the same editor and publisher as Vince Flynn and Brad Thor — two thriller icons who helped shaped the genre into what it is today?

Carr: “It is difficult for me to put into words exactly how humbling it is to be part of Emily Bestler Books.  I have looked up to both Vince and Brad since I first cracked the covers of their books.  To now be an author working with Emily Bestler is an honor I can’t quite describe.  I was fortunate enough to meet Vince Flynn before he passed away and I will always treasure the time we were able to spend together.  And I certainly would not be where I am today without Brad Thor.  I’ll never be able to thank him enough for opening the door for me and for welcoming me into the company of scribes.”

TRBS: Any chance readers might one day see James Reece on the big screen, and who would be your dream casting choice to play him?

Carr: “Funny you should ask, we are in talks right now with the exact person I always envisioned playing James Reece, but for now, I am sworn to secrecy…”

TBRS: Do you plan to make Reece a series character, and what comes next after The Terminal List?

Carr: “There is another book in the works right now scheduled for release in March 2019 with characters from The Terminal List, but which ones and in what capacity, that’s a secret…”



The Terminal List“Double the trouble, twice the action, and quadruple the enjoyment. Careful while reading this one, it could leave a mark.”—Steve Berry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Order

A Navy SEAL has nothing left to live for and everything to kill for after he discovers that the American government is behind the deaths of his team in this ripped-from-the-headlines political thriller.

On his last combat deployment, Lieutenant Commander James Reece’s entire team was killed in a catastrophic ambush that also claimed the lives of the aircrew sent in to rescue them. But when those dearest to him are murdered on the day of his homecoming, Reece discovers that this was not an act of war by a foreign enemy but a conspiracy that runs to the highest levels of government.

Now, with no family and free from the military’s command structure, Reece applies the lessons that he’s learned in over a decade of constant warfare toward avenging the deaths of his family and teammates. With breathless pacing and relentless suspense, Reece ruthlessly targets his enemies in the upper echelons of power without regard for the laws of combat or the rule of law.

An intoxicating thriller that cautions against the seduction of absolute power and those who would do anything to achieve it, The Terminal List is perfect for fans of Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Stephen Hunter, and Nelson DeMille.



Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck is the editor-in-chief of The Real Book Spy, and one of the thriller genre’s most well-recognized critics. He currently lives in southwest Michigan with his wife and their five children. For more information, make sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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