Echo Burning

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Echo Burning
Echo burning book.jpg
2001 Hardcover edition
Author Lee Child
Country United States
Language English
Series Jack Reacher
Genre Thriller novel
Publisher Bantam (UK), Putnam (US)
Publication date
UK: 2 April 2001
US: 25 June 2001 [1]
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 384 pp
ISBN 0-399-14726-8
OCLC 45172110
Preceded by Running Blind
Followed by Without Fail

Echo Burning is the fifth novel in the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child. It was published in 2001 by Putnam in America and Bantam in the United Kingdom.

Plot summary[edit]

Jack Reacher breaks a bully's nose and finger after being repeatedly provoked in a Texas saloon, so when the bully turns out to be a local sheriff and shows up with three of his colleagues the following day to arrest him, Reacher decides it's time to move on. He chooses hitchhiking as the fastest escape and hooks up with a driver of Mexican heritage named Carmen Greer. She says that the only reason she stopped, however, is because she has a problem, a really big problem. Her tax-evading husband, Sloop, is coming out of prison soon, and he will inevitably continue beating her as he did so many, many times before. Carmen has been diligently searching for candidates to kill him, and she thinks Reacher's military background may qualify him for the job. Reacher initially refuses and even leaps out of the car and back into the sweltering 110-degree (Fahrenheit) heat, but then he expeditiously changes his mind and agrees to accept a ride back to the ranch. It is there that Carmen, her husband Sloop and the rest of his family live, and Reacher is promising nothing more than to look into the situation and, if necessary, to act as her bodyguard. Carmen and Jack then proceed to pick up her daughter Ellie who gets on well with Reacher.

During this time we also see the introduction of two hired threesomes of people: the first group, named "The Watchers", is composed of two men and a boy and has been keeping a vigil over the ranch where the Greers live. This trio is later terminated without pay by a group of stone-cold assassins called "The Killing Team" who have previously done away with Sloop's defence lawyer Al Eugene.

Carmen and Reacher arrive back at the ranch, but Jack does not receive a warm welcome from Sloop's mother, brother or the two ranchers who work there. Nonetheless, Reacher manages to get himself hired on as a horse wrangler. In the days leading up to Sloop's release, Jack teaches Carmen how to fire a pistol and falls into a fracas with the aforementioned hired hands. Sloop comes home and takes a dislike to Jack, and he eventually gets the Texas Rangers to take Reacher away.

The Rangers bundle Jack into their cruiser with intentions of letting him out in Pecos, but the troopers are called back to the Greer Ranch, or the "Red House", whilst Reacher is still in the car. Sloop has been shot and killed, and the authorities think it was Carmen. While she is incarcerated, furthermore, she suddenly confesses to the murder and assiduously denies legal help from Alice Amanda Aaron, the pro bono attorney whom Reacher procures for her.

Alice and Jack, nevertheless, are convinced of Carmen's innocence and stubbornly continue trying to prove it, despite the presumably credible and damaging claims of Hack Walker. But as this character is the self-serving Pecos County's district attorney as well as Sloop's oldest friend, the investigative twosome remains unconvinced of his allegations. Complications (like Ellie's kidnapping) and backstories (like wasted teenage years) abound, and there are deceptions within deceptions which muddy the waters enough to keep the reader guessing throughout most of the multiple storylines.


Child finished writing Echo Burning in March 2000. The book was released in the United Kingdom and its territories on 2 April 2001, and the American publication followed on 25 June of the same year.[1]

The original idea for Echo Burning came from two sources. The first was an idea he had in which he wondered what it would be like to a woman whose husband was returning home from jail, but she didn't want him to return. He also took inspiration from seeing the grave of the gunfighter Clay Allison who "never killed a man that did not need killing." He wondered what it would be like if Reacher was confronted by a man he had been told needed killing.[2]

Child wanted Carmen Greer to appear as a character whom readers would not know whether or not to trust. He has also said how we wanted Alice Amanda Aaron, the Harvard educated, vegetarian, lesbian, attorney Reacher hires, to be a reflection of how diverse America is; he can be quoted as saying "she's totally normal in New York, but a freak in Texas." [2]


Echo Burning was well received by critics. In a starred review, book review journal Kirkus called it "Smashingly suspenseful," and said "Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence." The Denver Post called it "...a story you can sink your teeth into." Many critics considered this as one of the best books of the year, with the Boston Globe even calling it "The best mystery I [the reviewer] have read this year." In the United Kingdom the book was also well received, with the Daily Mail saying: "In the space of less than five years, Child has established himself as one of Britain's most successful commercial novelists. [Echo Burning is] Child's breakthrough book into the mega-sellers. He is that good."[3]


  1. ^ a b ""Reacher Report" archives on Lee Child's official website.". Lee Child Official Website. Retrieved June 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Internet Writing Journal interview with Lee Child". Internet Writing Journal. Retrieved June 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ "Echo Burning information page on Lee Child's Official Website". Lee Child Official Website. Retrieved June 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]