Nope—that headline isn’t a joke.
Lee Child, the mega-popular, New York Times bestselling author, is done writing Jack Reacher books.
According to a report from The Guardian, Child, 65 (whose real name is James Grant), is ready for retirement. But instead of killing Reacher off, a topic he’s discussed in numerous interviews over the years, it appears the writer will instead turn his iconic hero over to his younger brother and fellow author, Andrew Grant.
Grant, 51, has penned a number of successful thrillers himself, including last year’s Invisible, but nothing quite as big as the franchise he’ll be inheriting from his brother—who has reportedly sold over 100 million books and seen his protagonist brought to life on the big screen in a pair of Hollywood movies.
It’s a stunning turn of events, as there’s been no word of a potential move within publishing circles leading up The Guardian’s report, though it’s worth mentioning that last summer Child’s team made it known to media members that he would be “scaling back” from granting interviews. In hindsight, that move probably should have prompted more questions, but it’s not unheard of for famous writers to stop doing interviews or even book signings, for that matter.
When news broke late Friday night, I began reaching out to sources close to Child, and it appears The Guardian’s reporting is, indeed, correct—including one stipulation that would require Grant to take on the name Andrew Child. That said, it’s worth pointing out there has been no official announcement from Grant, Child, his publisher, or his agent, though it sounds like that could come as soon as this weekend.
The Guardian also reports that the next Reacher book, which is still untitled, will include both authors on the cover, reading: “Lee Child with Andrew Grant.” That move in right in line with what we’ve seen from other popular series whose universe transcends the original author, such as Tom Clancy (whose name is smackdab in each title), Vince Flynn (though Flynn’s name appears on the cover, each title reads “by Kyle Mills), and Robert B. Parker, among others.
Jack Reacher, the Hulk-sized nomad, was first introduced to readers in the 1997 thriller, The Killing Floor. Since then, he’s gone on to star in 24 books total, including Blue Moon, which came out back in October, on his way to becoming one of the most-read heroes of our time.
Though the Reacher brand remains strong, things haven’t always been totally hunky-dory. While Tom Cruise twice breathed life into Reacher on the big screen, book fans were nearly unanimous in their displeasure with the casting choice. In the novels, Reacher is six-foot-five and towers over nearly everyone he meets. Crusie, though he remains one of the hottest movie stars on the planet, lacked the physical stature to accurately portray Child’s protagionist. Additionally, some readers and critics have shown signs of tiring from Child’s formulaic approach to writing, which has led to minor Reacher fatigue in recent years.
That said, Blue Moon was widely regarded as one of Child’s better books to date, and now it appears that it will be his last.
Story developing . . .
UPDATE (10:01 am):
As expected, the official announcement came this morning from Child himself, who posted a message to fans through his various social media accounts followed by a statement from his brother, Andrew Grant.
Among the highlights of the announcement is the news that Child plans to work with Grant, who will indeed go by Andrew Child, on the next “few” Reacher books. After that, he’ll turn it all over to Grant and officially step back. Child cited his age as the primary reason for scaling back, noting that his brother is nearly fifteen years younger, and the logical choice to carry Reacher into the foreseeable future—which, for fans of the series, should come as good news.
Additionally, Child announced the 25th Jack Reacher novel, The Sentinel, which is due out sometime this fall.
You can read both statements in their entirety below.
From Lee Child:
“I love my readers and know they want many, many more Reacher stories in the future. I would love to make that promise, but realistically I’m aging out of being able to keep it. A few more, maybe, but not many, many more. So I have decided to pass the baton to someone who can keep that promise. I chose the best tough-guy writer I have read in years – my brother Andrew Grant. We share the same DNA, the same background, the same upbringing. He’s me, fifteen years ago, full of energy and ideas. He was the first to read Killing Floor all those years ago, and was the world’s first Reacher fan. We’re going to work on the next few together, and then he’ll strike out on his own. I’m excited to read what he comes up with, because I’m betting it will be great. If I’m Reacher, then so is he. Maybe more so. Trust me – this is going to be the real deal.”
From Andrew Grant:
“When I first read Killing Floor, I was blown away. Not just by the propulsive writing, or the suspense, or the action. But by Jack Reacher himself. Before I’d even learned his name I thought, I know this guy. I get him. The way his mind worked, the things he did, his moral compass, they all made sense to me. And the more time I spent with him in each new adventure, the more I craved the next. So I know what it’s like to wait for the new Reacher novel. I’ve lived with the anticipation. I understand what Reacher fans want – because I am one. And I’ll do my best to deliver for them. I’ll have to. Because my big brother will be watching…”
The Sentinel, the 25th Jack Reacher novel, by Lee Child and Andrew Child will be published 29th October 2020 in Hardback, Ebook and Audiobook.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.