As we near the premiere of the highly-anticipated second season of the Prime Video series Reacher, starring Alan Ritchson as the famous 6’5″ wandering nomad, now seems like a good time to talk about thrillers you might enjoy if you really dig the show. After all, Reacher is just an adaption of Lee Child’s #1 New York Times bestselling series, with the first season covering the events from Child’s iconic 1997 debut, The Killing Floor.
So, if you love Reacher and you like reading, what other books are a good fit to check out? Try out these ten titles and let us know what you think.
You absolutely cannot make a list like this and not start with Petrie’s Peter Ash, the only character truly worthy of being compared to Jack Reacher. In fact, Lee Child actually had this to say about Petrie’s first book—”Lots of characters get compared to my own Jack Reacher, but Petrie’s Peter Ash is the real deal.” That’s a pretty solid endorsement. So, who is Peter Ash? Well, in many ways, he’s a lot like Reacher. He’s a wanderer, never able to settle down or stay in one place for too long. He’s a war veteran who struggles with PTSD and claustrophobia, direct symptoms of his time over in Afghanistan. But he’s also got a lot of unique traits too. In this book, Peter tries to help the widow of a Marine who recently committed suicide, only to discover a package under her porch steps, which kicks off a deadly chain of events he never could have seen coming. As Peter races to protect the woman, he finds himself pulled further and further down the rabbit hole, and the only way out is to put it all on the line and keep fighting.
Full disclosure, I wrote this book. When I’m not Book Spying and covering thrillers, I’m also writing them. In Fields of Fire, my debut novel, a former Marine Raider named Matthew Redd returns to his little hometown in Montana for the first time in nearly a decade to investigate the death of his adopted father . . . before inadvertently unearthing a global conspiracy that only he can stop. Redd, like Reacher, is a big man. Standing 6’3″ and a whopping 245lbs, Redd is a human battering ram who’s not afraid to get a little violent when the situation calls for it. He’s also searching, though he’s not exactly sure for what. Much like in season one of Reacher, Redd’s family life comes into play here, in more ways than one, as he searches for the truth and swears to make things right no matter the cost. If you like big conspiracies and even bigger action sequences, I wrote Fields of Fire just for you.
David Baldacci is a name known by most thriller enthusiasts. With multiple New York Times bestselling series under his belt and more hit novels in circulation today than just about anyone else, Baldacci is a safe bet if you’re looking for the kind of book that’ll suck you in and never let go. While both Amos Decker (The Memory Man) and Atlee Pine (Long Road To Mercy) are characters Baldacci has built other franchises around, chances are that if you like Reacher, you’ll probably prefer his John Puller books. Puller, a “combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division,” was first introduced in Zero Day—which follows him to a remote, rural area in West Virginia coal country, where he discovers a brutal crime scene. A family is found murdered, but few in the small town seem to really care or want answers. That changes when Puller makes it his mission to get to the bottom of it. A small town with big secrets and heart-pounding conspiracies? That sure sounds like a Jack Reacher book.
Clyde Barr is a great character who reads like a cross between Reacher and one of the cowboys from the bunkhouse in Yellowstone. He’s big, strong, and unflinching. In the first book, Storey sets things up so that his protagonist returns to Colorado, where he grew up, for the first time in nearly twenty years when his sister, Jen, calls him and needs help. Jen frantically explains what’s going on and that she’s in trouble, but before Clyde can ask additional questions, the line goes dead. From there, our hero sets his sights on rescuing his sister—there’s just one problem. Clyde doesn’t know where she is. Someone took her; Clyde knows that. But finding her won’t be easy. Still, nothing short of dying will stop him from tracking down those responsible and making things right—one way or another. Storey followed up his hit debut with A Promise to Kill, which brings Barr back for another action-packed adventure. Probably the most underrated title on this list, for my money, it’s perhaps one of the very best and an absolute must if you want a hard-hitting Reacher-like experience.
Most of the time, Child’s books open with Jack Reacher accidentally stumbling into a scenario or situation that quickly snowballs, pulling the wandering nomad deeper and deeper inside until he breaks it all wide open with his two bare hands. Well, New York Times bestselling author Rober Crais opens his 18th Elvis Cole and Joe Pike crime novel with Pike entering a bank on what seemed to be a perfectly ordinary day. Pike, for his part, never intended to find himself in a position to try and save a young woman, but—when he witnesses the bank teller who helped him being abducted in the parking lot—that is exactly what happens. Pike is able to run them down and save the woman, who is okay, and that should have been the end of it all. Instead, it’s just the beginning . . . Crais is one of the genre’s premier writers, and both Cole and Pike are phenomenal characters. Child’s fans should quickly devour this whole series, but if you’re looking for a place to start and give it a try, I would recommend A Dangerous Man.
Interestingly enough, Nick Heller once teamed up with Jack Reacher. Well, kind of. Lee Child and Joseph Finder co-wrote a short story called Good and Valuable Consideration: Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller in the ITW short story anthology, FaceOff. So, the two characters have some history together, even if their encounter isn’t technically considered canon. Here, in Guilty Minds, all you need to know is that Heller, a Boston-based private spy, is called in to help when the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who is accused of having liaisons with an escort, needs to prove his innocence. The said woman in question is ready to tell her story to a gossip website, bearing all the details. The chief justice, however, has a rock-solid alibi. One that Heller can confirm. So he knows his client is innocent, but there’s one problem. The chief justice refuses to let that alibi go public. Heller gets to work trying to figure out who would want to cook up such a story and why, and in the end, unearths a conspiracy he never could have imagined. If you love twists, Finder executes one of the best twists I’ve read in years towards the end of this one.
First of all, if you aren’t reading Rob Hart’s stuff, change that ASAP. From a pure writing standpoint, he might just be the most talented author on this list. And he can write anything. But of all the stuff he’s written, nothing is a better fit for Reacher fans than his Ash McKenna books—more specifically, Potter’s Field. First, a couple of things. McKenna isn’t Reacher. Nobody is. But he is a great character, and the two have similar traits—including a smart mouth. Secondly, this is actually the last book in the series. While I definitely recommend going back to the beginning (New Yorked), I think Lee Child’s fans would especially like this one because, after more than a year on the road, McKenna—an amateur private investigator—finally returns home, where plenty of trouble is just waiting for him to arrive. (Tell me that doesn’t have a Reacher vibe to it!) McKenna soon finds himself taking a job that lands him in the middle of the heroin trade on Staten Island. . . and Hart delivers a riveting, epic conclusion to this underrated series.
There’s a good chance that if you’re reading Lee Child, you’re probably already reading or are aware of Nelson DeMille and his work. If you only know Reacher from the Amazon show, though, then here’s a tidbit worth noting: DeMille’s had his work adapted too. Remember The General’s Daughter (1999), starring John Travolta? That movie was based on the book by the same name, written by DeMille (who’s had other novels turned into movies, too)—a prolific New York Times bestselling author. The Deserter, co-authored with his son, Alex, kicks off a new series featuring characters Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. (See the Reacher connection? You do not mess with the special investigators!) In this book, the duo is tasked with bringing in a former Delta Force operator who willfully deserted his post before being seen rubbing elbows with the Taliban. It’s the kind of high-stakes storytelling that Lee Child’s fans will appreciate.
Nick Mason did some bad things, but he also had some bad luck. That combination landed him in federal prison for the rest of his life, that is, until an offer comes along that he just can’t pass up. In exchange for walking out of prison for the first time in five years, Nick agrees to become a “fixer” of sorts for someone very powerful. The terms, for the most part, are simple. Nick gets to exit his prison cell and return to Chicago, where he’s given a fancy house, fast cars, and money to burn. But there is, of course, a catch. He’s also given a cell phone, and anytime it rings, he’s to answer it and do exactly what he’s told—no questions asked. Soon, Nick learns that he’s not truly free after all. Instead, he’s traded in one prison for another, albeit the new one does come with some serious perks. But as the voice on the other end of the phone tests Nick’s dedication and obedience, it doesn’t take long for him to start looking for ways to fight back and change the terms of his deal—kicking off an action-packed chain of events that Reacher fans will love.
If you’re a fan of Reacher, you might be surprised to find out that there’s actually a whole series of books dedicated to another character tracking down everyone’s favorite drifter. That’s right, New York Times bestselling author Diane Capri has been in the driver’s seat since the first book, You Don’t Know Jack, hit stores in 2012. The book takes Kim Otto, who’s been tasked with building a file on Reacher, back to Margrave, Georgia (where The Killing Floor was set) to investigate how exactly Reacher was part of it. The books are more than that, though, and while they do pack tons of fun moments and Easter eggs for Racher fans, Capri has done a fine job building out her own main character and secondary cast to go with. In fact, Lee Child even offered up this resounding endorsement: “Kim Otto is a great, great character – I love her.” So, if you like Reacher and want more Jack, well, you should probably check this series out ASAP.
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 is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.