Featured Review: ‘Only the Dead’ by Jack Carr


Jack Carr’s #1 New York Times bestselling James Reece series continues with Only The Dead, his longest, most shocking, and most brutal novel to date.

Following the cliffhanger ending in his last book, In The Blood (2022), Carr kicks off his latest thriller with James Reece in a special housing unit of the Florance Administrative Maximum Prison Facility. Previously, shots were fired at President Alec Christensen during a Veteran’s Day parade in the nation’s capital. He was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where, a short time later, he was pronounced dead. Then, readers saw Reece, who was staying at a friend’s cabin in Montana, arrested.

After a brutal year-long gap between books for his fans, during which many waited with bated breath, Carr locks readers in the dark cell with Reece where he’s being held. Here, Reece does everything he can to keep his wits and not surrender to the crushing, depressing elements designed to break him. The cell is small, pitch-black, and cold. But during this time, Carr churns out some of his finest and, certainly, most powerful writing, which also serves as a nice launch point for newcomers to the series. There’s a callback to The Terminal List (which, of course, is now a hugely successful series on Amazon Prime starring Chris Pratt) as Reece fights his demons, keeping his mind and body ready to fight. He doesn’t know who framed him or why, but Reece refuses to die alone in his cell, especially when he knows that things are just getting started.

On the other side of those prison walls is an America that’s suffering from crippling inflation and a world that is on the brink of war. A secret cabal believes they’ve already managed to take the most powerful man—the president—and the most dangerous man—Reece—off the board, but they’re far from done. What they don’t know, though, is that past events are set to come storming back into the present—events that link to Reece . . . setting up an epic, violent showdown unlike anything else in print today.

In a way, this book embodies everything Jack Carr is about. The famous “never tell me the odds” attitude that he became so known for when his debut novel rocked the thriller world to its core in 2018 is front and center here. For Reece, of course, as he defies the odds and goes to war with the shadowy forces behind all the events in this book, but even beyond that, Carr has managed to pack and deliver that message in a way that, frankly, is inspirational to his readers. Though his series is fictional, there’s an unprecedented level of realism at play here too, and it’s done in a way that few other authors can match. Whereas others excel at beating headlines, Carr presses emotional buttons that other writers wouldn’t dare explore. And that makes Reece more human and more relatable than just about anyone else in the genre. Of course, none of that is to say that Carr hasn’t become one of the premier headline-beaters in the game today. To the contrary, he’s hit on a number of things that have played out in real-time. And without giving anything away, let’s just hope that isn’t the case this time around.

In the span of five short years, Jack Carr has gone from a high-flying debut author to a #1 New York Times bestseller. I’ve never seen anything like it. From his books to his podcast to the numerous appearances he’s made across the internet and television, few writers have had the kind of influence and recognition that he now carries. And yet, Only The Dead proves that, in a lot of ways, he’s just getting started. Carr is already a superstar, but if he can continue his hot streak into the future, it’s possible that he’ll become the next truly iconic thriller author, similar to Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum before him.

When James Reece picks up his tomahawk and sniper rifle, you know it’s about to go down. And, boy, does it . . . A perfect thriller from the hottest author on the thriller scene today, Only The Dead is a must-read for all. 

Book Details

Author: Jack Carr
Series: James Reece #6
Pages: 576 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1982181699
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Real Book Spy Rating: 10/10



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.

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