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Jack Reacher, as played by Tom Cruise, appearing in the theatrical poster of the 2012 film Jack Reacher
|First appearance||Killing Floor (March 1997)|
|Created by||Lee Child|
|Portrayed by||Tom Cruise|
Jack Reacher is a fictional character and the protagonist of a series of books by British author Lee Child. A former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps, Reacher quit at age 36, and roams the United States taking odd jobs and investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations. The twentieth and most recent novel in the series is titled Make Me.
- 1 Development and author's commentary
- 2 Fictional biography
- 3 Demeanor and personality
- 4 Skills
- 5 Habits and beliefs
- 6 Physical appearance
- 7 Family
- 8 Critical reception and analysis
- 9 Accomplices
- 10 Legacy
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes and references
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
At the time Lee Child sat down to write his first novel Killing Floor, he was unemployed having been recently fired from his position as a presentation director for Granada Television. Lee Child has remarked that "I wasn't one of these people that felt compelled to write. It had to keep a roof over our heads, so it was totally, totally 110% commercially motivated."
Critics have, however, perceived other influences in Jack Reacher's creation. Bob Cornwell quotes Lee Child's reply in another interview as having created Reacher 'as an antidote, to all the depressed and miserable alcoholics that increasingly peopled the genre'.
The character's name first came to Child in a supermarket when an old lady noting the span of Child's arms asked for his help in reaching out to a can of pears. On seeing this, Child's wife commented that if his writing career did not work out he could "always get a job as a reacher in a supermarket". Reacher's ex-military background was a specific and tactical choice on his behalf. Child has explained, "I thought that I would do a book that's not the same as everybody else's. Everybody else had their guy working: a private guy in Boston or a police lieutenant in L.A., or wherever. I thought, 'Well, he won't be working, and he won't live anywhere, and let's just take it from there.'" Child also felt that this origin would lend itself to the character's personality and nomadic lifestyle, explaining, "This idea of the rootless alienation has got to come from somewhere, and I noticed that the most alienated people are always ex-military, because it’s like going from one solar system to the other, it’s so different. So that was an easy choice: Make him ex-military. Then make him ex-military police because, broadly speaking, these would be crime novels, and he had to have some investigative experience, and he had to understand procedures and forensics and so on. So that part was all set in stone".
Similarities between Lee Child and his protagonist
Numerous critics have pointed out the various similarities between Lee Child and his creation, Jack Reacher. Bryan Curtis writing for Grantland and Natasha Harding and Caroline Iggulden, in a separate article for The Sun, have brought out the various similarities between Child and Reacher: Child is 6 ft 4 in tall while his protagonist stands at a similar 6 ft 5 in, both writer and creation consume "incessant amounts of coffee", Child "lives in cheap pairs of jeans and T-shirts and says the idea of buying expensive clothes is “crazy” to him" just like Reacher and that "Jack Reacher’s famous physical qualities are based on Lee’s playground memories as a child". Lee Child has stated, "I was huge as a kid and Reacher's stature is me translated as a kid. I enjoyed being bigger and fighting shamelessly. I've done a fair amount of headbutting. It's an awesome manoeuvre."[note 1] Andy Martin notes that "just as Reacher is half-Rimbaud, half-Rambo, Child is both art-for-art's-sake Parnassian and ruthless businessman."
Curtis as well as Harding and Iggulden have also drawn attention to the role Child's unemployment had on the character's development. Harding and Iggulden conclude that Lee Child being "A union rep who hated injustice, Lee poured his anger at his sacking into the character of 6ft 5in Reacher, who always wins against the bad guys." Curtis also notes that "Child created Reacher from the smoldering embers of his own rage. It might seem like a simplistic theory, but it’s true. Like the author, Reacher was workplace surplus: He was a military policeman in an era of Army downsizing. The act of leaving his job turned Reacher into a protective figure, an avenging angel." He finds that Reacher's violent actions are a manifestation of Child's anger at his sacking and that his violent ways of dealing with villains is 'cathartic' to the author.
Author's commentary and interpretation
Lee Child views Jack Reacher as a "happy-go-lucky guy. He has quirks and problems, but the thing is, he doesn't know he's got them. Hence, no tedious self-pity. He's smart and strong, an introvert, but any anguish he suffers is caused by others."
When quizzed about the choice of Tom Cruise being cast in the role of Jack Reacher in the movie of the same name,[note 2] Child replied that "Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force".
He has also referred to Reacher on multiple occasions as a 'knight-errant' and in an interview for the Time magazine describes the character as: " (He’s) two things in one. On the surface, he is an ex-military cop who is suddenly dumped out into the civilian world. He doesn’t fit in, and he spends his time wandering America, seeing the things that he’s never had time to see before. He’s trying to stay out of trouble, but masterfully once a year getting into trouble. He’s also the descendant of a very ancient tradition: the noble loner, the knight errant, the mysterious stranger, who has shown up in stories forever… He is a truly universal character... I’m writing the modern iteration of a character who has existed for thousands of years." 
In another interview for Esquire magazine, Child further analyses the mythology of his character as follows:
The stories that I love are basically about the knight-errant, the mysterious stranger. And the reason why people think that's an essentially American paradigm is the Westerns. The Westerns were absolutely rock solid with that stuff. You know, the mysterious rider comes in off the range, sorts out the problem, and rides off into the sunset. It is just such a total paradigm, but not invented in America. That was imported from the medieval tales of Europe. The knight-errant: literally a knight, somehow banished and forced to wander the land doing good deeds. It's part of storytelling in every culture. Japan has it with the ronin myth; every culture has this Robin Hood idea. So really, that character was forced out of Europe as Europe became more densely populated and more civilized. That character no longer had stories in Europe; it had to migrate to where the frontier was still open and dangerous, which was America, essentially. So the character, I think, is actually universal and historic, most recently, normally represented in America. I think the Westerns saw it firmly adopted by America, so yeah, right now, we think of this as a completely American character, but really, it's more historic than that. But I'm very happy to have that reference made.
Child also views Reacher as a "post-feminist" stating that his protagonist does not parlay in "gender distinction". In his own words "Reacher likes strong, realistic women, and he treats women with respect" and that "he doesn’t cut them any slack, but also he has no negative preconceptions. If you're a woman, he will be your friend; but if necessary, he will kill you (the woman)".
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The Jack Reacher character is described as being a former major in the United States Military Police Corps.
Childhood and formative years
Jack's mother Josephine Moutier Reacher (née Moutier) was a French national, both being fluent in French from early childhood but as Jack admits in The Affair (2011) he speaks the language Un peu, mais lentement ("A little, but slowly").
Military years and profile
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After being shunted around the world, growing up on U.S. military bases as his father Stan was deployed, he gained an education in basic survival as well as an education that allowed him to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point. After four years at West Point (1979 to 1983) Reacher achieved the ranks of 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant, Captain, and Major including an intervening demotion from Major to Captain in 1990 during his tenure in the Military Police. During his 13 years of service, his achievements were recognised in the form of citations and awards including the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Soldier's Medal, Bronze Star, and a second Silver Star and Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983.
While his Silver Star and Purple Heart are cited on his profile, all of the other medal citations involve official secrets and are therefore redacted. However the short story Deep Down hints that he possibly was awarded the Legion of Merit as a result of exposing a female liaison officer who was leaking confidential information to the Soviet Union.
Reacher served in the Army's Military Police branch, resigning his commission and mustering out at the rank of Major. His unit, the fictional 110th Special Investigations Unit, was formed to handle exceptionally tough cases. He left the armed forces in 1997, partly due to a reduction in the forces and partly because he verbally offended a Lieutenant Colonel during an investigation in Mississippi, who then singled him out for discharge.
Among his formal qualifications Reacher is described as the only non-Marine to win the Wimbledon Cup, a US Marine Corps 1000 Yard Invitational Rifle Competition; achieving a record score in 1988. Anecdotally his fitness reports rated him well above average in the classroom, excellent in the field, fluently bilingual in English and French, passable in Spanish, outstanding on all man-portable weaponry, and beyond outstanding at hand-to-hand combat, Reacher describing himself as a brawler, his fighting style being described as akin to a thrown chainsaw with the motor running.
Since leaving the Army, Reacher became a drifter wandering America in part because he had been accustomed to go where he was told to go, when to go and what to do for every day of his life from military childhood to military adulthood. His wanderings are also driven by a desire to experience the country he served for so long without ever having lived in it. Prior to 9/11 Reacher takes the concept of travelling light to an extreme, his only baggage a folding toothbrush, but after the September 11 attacks, with restrictions on wire transfers in the light of fraud he is obliged to carry an ATM card and photo ID in the form of a (generally expired) American passport.
Emily Sargent, while conducting an interview with Lee Child, describes Reacher's post-military life as follows:
You will never find Reacher going to the laundry or doing the ironing. When his clothes get dirty he simply goes to the local hardware store and buys a functional pair of chinos and a workman's shirt and stuffs the old ones in the bin. No mortgage, no wife, no ties, he is a perfectly free agent, unlimited and unbound, incapable of ever settling down.
Lee Child describes Reacher's obsession to wander about as follows:
He's an ex-military policeman, and he was demobilized in his middle thirties after having served all of his adult life in the [U.S.] Army and having grown up on Marine bases, because his father was a Marine. The idea was to have a character that was plausibly rootless. Most people who are wanderers do it for other reasons—they are mentally ill, or something like that. Reacher is completely competent, but he's just habituated to this fragmented life in the military, so he can't settle into civilian society. The idea of staying anywhere for more than a few days is anathema to him.
Demeanor and personality
Reacher, unlike ordinary people, has been depicted throughout the series as leading a wandering life-style, putting up at motels in new places for a short period of time before moving on to other places. He does not have a permanent residence and has become a drifter wandering about in America.
Reacher himself expounds on an interesting hypothesis about this vagrant life-style in Never Go Back. He states that he has a genetic disposition towards roaming about. He cites the examples of the British Empire, the Vikings, and the Polynesians, arguing that they too had a wanderlust. While he accepts that there was an economical necessity behind their voyages, he maintains that "some of them could not stop". He feels that long ago when humans lived in small bands, there was a risk of inbreeding as a result of which a gene developed over the course of evolution such that "every generation and every small band had at least one person who had to wander". This would lead to "mixing up of gene pools" and would be "healthier all around". Reacher concludes by saying:
I think ninety-nine of us grow up to love the campfire, and one grows up to hate it. Ninety-nine of us grow up to fear the howling wolf, and one grows up to envy it. And I'm that guy. Compelled to spread his DNA worldwide. Purely for the good of the species.
Reacher's large physique means his character is sometimes mistaken by other people. For example, in Die Trying, Reacher is wrongly suspected by the FBI of being involved in a kidnapping, which assesses him as (solely on the basis of a few photos) as "The big guy is different. Different clothes, different stance, different physically. He could be foreign, at least partly, or maybe second generation. Fair hair and blue eyes, but there's something in his face. Maybe he's European, perhaps a European mercenary or terrorist." Reacher is aware of this, though. In Make Me Reacher gets off at a remote train station (for no reason other than he liked the name of the town [Mothers Rest]. Not an uncommon practice for him. As it says in the book "he has no place to be & all the time in the world to get there.") he sees a woman coming out of the shadows with a look of expectation. He immediately understood that the person she was waiting for must be very tall (like him) as it's his standout feature on first meeting someone. In Echo Burning, Reacher narrates how he first turned "his fear into aggression". He had been about four when he watched a television show on space adventures. One such episode depicted a space monster which had then terrified the young Reacher. After that Reacher was unable to sleep for days on end, thinking the monster was under his bed and would get him if he tried to sleep. And then according to Reacher his younger self got mad: "Not at myself for being afraid, because as far as I was concerned the thing was totally real and I should be afraid. I got mad at the thing for making me afraid. For threatening me". Reacher then one night "kind of exploded with fury". In his words, Reacher "raced down the monster" and successfully changed his fear into fury. He also stated he had never been scared since.
This fact is later seconded when in Never Go Back, an Army psychological study of fear in children is cited that showed Reacher to have abnormally fast reflexes and aggression levels at the age of six; Reacher believes that this abnormal level of aggression at that age is not due to genetics (as the Army report suggested) but because he got tired of being frightened, and trained himself " to turn fear into aggression, automatically".
This aggression in Reacher often manifests itself in his violent actions. Reacher's attitude during such fights is neatly summed up during a brawl towards the end of The Affair: At the start of Chapter Sixty Six he says while his foe, whom he calls a warrior, was focused on tactical victory, Reacher lived to defile his opponent's grave, meaning that he is focused on winning rather than how he will win.
Reacher tends to be seldom remorseful for the numerous felonies he perpetuates over the varied plots and has a primal sense of justice. For instance in Personal, after killing a thug, he defends his actions to a distraught Casey Nice (his accomplice in the novel) stating that the man he killed had a choice in that he could spend his life performing good deeds such as 'helping old ladies across the street', 'raising funds for Africa' or 'volunteering in the library'. Instead the man had chosen to extort money and hurt people and when he 'finally he opened the wrong door, what came out at him (his death) was his problem, not mine'.
This primitivity on part of Reacher is commented upon in Never Go Back, where Reacher is described by Susan Turner as being like "something feral." (p176) Her specific opinion is, " It's like you've been sanded down to nothing but yes and no, and you and them, and black and white, and live or die. You're like a predator. Cold and hard." (p. 176–177) However, when she witnesses Reacher's outrage at the hurt caused by some men to an innocent waitress, she reconsiders and states that he is not actually not feral as she earlier presumed. Furthermore, she notes that Reacher had till then attempted to solve only her problems, neglecting the problems of his own:
And you’ve done nothing but chip away at my problem. You’re ignoring your own, with the Big Dog. Which is just as serious. Therefore, you still care for others. Which means you can’t really be feral. I imagine caring for others is the first thing to go. And you still know right from wrong. Which all means you’re OK.
This underlying kindness perceived by Turner is visible in many of Reacher's actions: he stands up for the right of women in both Echo Burning (where his helping a woman escape from an abusive husband forms the main plot of the story) and in Worth Dying For (where he breaks the nose of an abusive husband for beating up his wife) and is sympathetic to those in need, as seen in The Hard Way where he bequeaths all of Edward Lane's fees paid to him for the medical treatment of a man Edward Lane had betrayed many years back.
This point is further elucidated in Personal, when Reacher standing in front of his mother's grave reminisces:
She (Reacher's mother) had said, 'You've got the strength of two normal boys. What are you going to do with it?'
I hadn't replied. Our silence was part of the ritual. She answered for me. She said, 'You’re going to do the right thing.'And I had tried, mostly, which had sometimes caused me trouble, and sometimes won me medals of my own.
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Reacher has an innate ability to tell the time without referring to a timepiece, in effect having an internal timer or alarm clock enabling him to rest or wake up at any time he chooses, to maintain a silent countdown or perform time-over-distance calculations in real time. He also has a (possibly related) fascination with and natural facility with, numbers (Bad Luck and Trouble).
Reacher's fighting skills are compounded by his size and strength, his unconventional upbringing and youthful brawls all over the world enhanced by standard military training then amplified by in-depth technical and military knowledge. Techniques he uses frequently include elbow strikes, uppercuts, and headbutts. The martial art Keysi (the Keysi Fighting Method) is used in one of the street fights in the feature film Jack Reacher) His experience, skills, knowledge, and brute strength aid him in fighting numbers of opponents single-handed but occasionally fight physically superior opponents, such the 7-foot-tall (2.13 m), 400-pound (181 kg), steroid-using thug he defeated by lifting him up and dropping him on his head.
While Reacher is skilled in various forms of martial arts he is not an expert in any particular form of hand-to-hand combat. He is similarly versatile in his choice of handguns, from a pair of .44 Magnum revolvers to a plethora of pistols, mainly in nine-milimeter Parabellum, while in Gone Tomorrow he goes into action with a suppressed Heckler & Koch MP5SD sub machine gun and a Benchmade 3300 spring assisted sliding knife (wrongly described as illegal outside of the military and law enforcement under US anti-switchblade legislation).
Reacher is also described as skilled marksman, principally in One Shot, being the only non-Marine to win the US Marine Corps 1000 Yard Invitational rifle competition, he also won the US Army Pistol Championship and served as a pistol instructor. In One Shot, Reacher uses his considerable intelligence with advanced technical and military knowledge during a long range shooting scene—slowing and counting his heartbeat while calculating wind, humidity, trajectory, speed, energy, and force.
Habits and beliefs
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Reacher has a love for music, especially blues. It was this affinity for the blues that inspired Reacher to get off the bus at the start of Killing Floor, and in the same novel reveals that he has a music collection in his head, replaying tracks as he travels without needing the technology others seem to be obsessed with and burdened by. Reacher explains this to detectives investigating an early morning suicide on a near-deserted New York subway near a visit to a Blues club on Bleecker Street (Gone Tomorrow, Chapter 7).
Reacher espouses no personal religious beliefs but is generally accepting of the beliefs of others, though he is scathing in his dismissal of the town boss Thurman's fundamentalist Christian position in the novel Nothing to Lose: When asked if he is "born again" Reacher says "Once was enough for me" and later in the same chapter rhetorically asks Thurman "I'm here to visit the sick and you want to have me beaten up? What kind of Christian are you?" (Chapters 38 and 44). He also mentions at the opening of Bad Luck and Trouble (Chapter 4) that he avoids Alaska Airlines because "they put a scripture card on the meal trays".
Reacher is also critical of the corruption of traditional spelling, such as the use of contractions like "U" for "you", "lo" for "low", disliking then absence of the apostrophe in don't walk pedestrian before they were replaced then noting he also disapproved of replacing words with pictures (Chapter 20).
While Reacher knows how to drive and enjoys driving some cars (Tripwire; Running Blind; One Shot; and Personal, in A Wanted Man he professes to be a bad driver and in Bad Luck and Trouble he says he can't rent a car because he doesn't have a driver's license (Chapter 22) and in Without Fail Agent Frolich trawls various databases for her UNSUB (Reacher) only to discover he is effectively untraceable because without a driver's license she has no photograph and no address, which she concludes is both weird and a pain in the ass (Chapter 1).
His single indulgence - casual sex apart - is coffee, which he drinks more or less constantly:
As Reacher confesses, in The Enemy:
[Joe] was probably the only other human on the planet who liked coffee as much as I did. He started drinking it when he was six. I copied him immediately. I was four. Neither of us has stopped since.The Reacher brothers’ need for caffeine makes heroin addiction look like an amusing little take-it-or-leave-it sideline.
He does not often express an outright political opinion: Reacher does not have an objection to the American wars and military operations around the world, in many of which he took part (and in which his father took part) but that does not necessarily extend to approval of the politicians who started these wars or acceptance of the rationale behind them: in Die Trying, set in 1998, Reacher exclaims 'I did not vote for this President!' implying he either voted Republican in 1996 or did not vote before his lack of a fixed abode made voting impossible. In the same work Reacher, who kills a number of human beings without qualms has an ethical problem with the option of killing dogs loosed against him on the grounds the human beings messed with Reacher at their own risk but the dog is literally obeying orders and so 'can't be considered accountable'. Accordingly, Reacher takes pains to spare the dogs and manages to do so by winning a contest of will, staring them down until they back down. eyes and imposing his will.
Bryan Curtis, in an interview with Lee Child, the author behind the Jack Reacher series, describes Reacher as:
His face looked like it had been chipped out of rock by a sculptor who had ability but not much time.
In A Wanted Man he is described as follows: "He was one of the largest men she had ever seen outside the NFL. He was extremely tall, and extremely broad, and long-armed, and long-legged. The lawn chair was regular size, but it looked tiny under him. It was bent and crushed out of shape. His knuckles were nearly touching the ground. His neck was thick and his hands were the size of dinner plates...A wild man. But not really. Underneath everything else seemed strangely civilized....His gaze was both wise and appealing, both friendly and bleak, both frank and utterly cynical." 
Reacher is described as being 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall, weighing 210-250 (95-113 kg) pounds and having a 50-inch chest;. In Never Go Back, he was physically described as having "a six-pack like a cobbled city street, a chest like a suit of NFL armor, biceps like basketballs, and subcutaneous fat like a Kleenex tissue." In his youth, his physical appearance was described as that of a 'bulked-up greyhound'. He also reveals that his size is purely genetic; he states in Persuader and Never Go Back that he is not much of an exercise enthusiast.
He has various scars, most notably a collection of roughly-stitched scars on his abdomen caused by a bombing in Lebanon, with ugly raised welts that are later instrumental in saving his life, a 3–4 inch thin, white scar that intersects his shrapnel scar that he received during a knife fight in Gone Tomorrow, Reacher attributes his survival to the rough MASH stitch work (Chapter 83).
He also has various other scars: one from a chest shot with a .38 Special. and a powder burn from a near-miss at point blank range, and one on his arm where his brother struck him with a chisel.
He suffers his first ever broken nose in "Worth dying for" at 50+ yrs of age. He resets the bone with a thump from his palm. He later puts on a plaster bandage made of duct tape while there's a doctor ally in the next room.
Reacher's maternal grandfather, Laurent Moutier, was a furniture restorer in Paris, who, at thirty years of age, volunteered for the French Army in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, fighting at Verdun and The Somme.[note 4] Between 1919 and 1929 he was commissioned to produce wooden legs for wounded veterans. Josephine Moutier was his only child. He died in 1974 at age 90. Jack, as a boy, met him three times and is described as having liked him.
Reacher's mother, Josephine Moutier Reacher, born in France, was 30 years old when Reacher was born. She met Reacher's father in Korea and married him in the Netherlands. When she was only 13, she joined the French Resistance and under the alias "Beatrice" worked with Le Chemin de Fer Humain (the Human Railroad), saving 80 men. She garroted a schoolmate, a boy who threatened to give her up to the Nazis, and would later receive the Médaille de la Résistance (the Resistance Medal) for further heroism. She was widowed in 1988,[note 5] and died in 1990 at the age of 60 of lung cancer. Reacher described his mother as "gallic, feminine, obstinate," and "[the] most stubborn woman possible." He also branded her a fatalist as she had concealed her cancer from her children and had refused treatment for a one-year period before her death. However Reacher compares her favourably to his father: "My father hadn't killed the enemy at the age of thirteen. But my mother had. She had lived through desperate times and she had stepped up and done what was necessary." Reacher also has great respect for his mother: at her funeral he buried his Silver Star medal with her, and on learning of her role in World War II, states that he became the man he was because of her.
Reacher's father, Stan Reacher, was a United States Marine Corps captain, who served in Korea and Vietnam. His military service kept his family continually moving all around the world to various military bases. At the time of the short story Second Son, when Jack was 13, he was stationed in Okinawa and involved in preparing contingency plans for an invasion of Mainland China. In the same short story, Stan Reacher is depicted as "a child of the depression," coming from a miserly New England family, and as a result was a proponent of the theories of "Waste not, want not," "Make do and mend," and "Don’t make an exhibition of oneself." When describing his father, Jack said, "[He was] a plain New Hampshire Yankee with an implacable horror of anything fancy...he had no use for wealth and excess. Very compartmentalized guy. Gentle, shy, sweet, loving man, but a stone-cold killer. Next to him I look like Liberace". Jack Reacher furthermore highlighted this dichotomy in his father's behaviour by stating that he would be engaging in violent actions such as "how to angle a claymore mine so the little ball bearings explode outward at exactly the right angle to rip the enemy's spines out of their backs with maximum efficiency" one day, and the next day would be doing something calmer, like "watching birds," After military service, "there was no place left for people like him." He died in 1988. James Stanfield, in an article concludes that "Reacher clearly looked up to and idolised his father, and though Reacher’s reasons for leaving the service were very different to his dad’s, they’ve ended up at the same point."
Jack had only one sibling, brother Joe Reacher, who was two years older than Jack. Physically, Joe was one inch taller 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) and a "little slighter" than his younger sibling, weighing 220 pounds (100 kg). Joe was born on a military base in the Philippines, and Jack is described as helping Joe beat up the kids who gave him trouble in school, and vice versa. However Joe also had scuffles with his own brother, given the scar that Jack had put on his forehead during their childhood. Joe was also a West Point graduate, and spent five years in military intelligence, where he never won any of the "good medals", only the "junk awards." Jack attributed his brother as being pedantic, and called him a perfectionist, "a man horrified with anything less than the best." Joe is described as joining the US Treasury Department, and died at age 38 in the line of duty, having arranged a meeting with a potential investigation subject. Because he was killed in the line of duty, his name can be found on the Treasury Department's Roll of Honor.
Critical reception and analysis
Critics have noted the strong theme of "justice" pervading the character as well as the book series. Claire E. White, characterises the titular protagonist as: "wanderer, a hero who is a bit alienated from the establishment, but whose sense of justice is strong. He reminds (me) a bit of a character from the Old West: the strong, mysterious loner who never stays in town for long.". Mike Ripley detected the influence of Jack Schaefer's western novel Shane in the Reacher novel Echo Burning while Bob Cornwell calls the debut Jack Reacher novel Killing Floor "a classic western".Grantland columnist, Bryan Curtis calls the character "a protective figure, an avenging angel" and quotes the author Michael Connelly describing the Reacher book series as: “These are postmodern Westerns, they’re Shane. A stranger comes to town and sets things right. Then he leaves town.” The critic Emily Sargent says of the fictional Reacher: "just the kind of no-nonsense, ramrod hero an intelligent five-year old would dream up: a strapping, broad-shouldered, idealised father-figure, something akin to God in his wisdom and power, alternately benevolent and overwhelmingly cruel, fair but firm. Good at saving damsels in distress and sorting out bad guys.".
Rick Gekoski, writing for The Guardian takes a similar if darker interpretation of the character: "Reacher is, of course, in a long line of American outcast heroes (how does the Coventry-born ex-TV-man author know so much about this?) who abjure emotional ties, head out into the wilderness and take upon their own broad shoulders the primitive moral conscience of the tribe. Too immature to make a sexual commitment, obsessed with death and terror, this archetypal hero of American fiction was first described in Leslie Fiedler's classic Love and Death in the American Novel (1960).". In the same article he also questions whether Reacher's hypermasculinity is a sign of the character's "repressed homosexuality".
Malcolm Gladwell, in an article for The New Yorker perceives a difference in the Reacher character and the traditional Western characters in terms of the symbolism they represent to the general public. In his opinion "The traditional Western was a fantasy about lawfulness: it was based on a longing for order among those who had been living without it for too long. The heroes conduct themselves according to strict rules of chivalry. They act— insofar as it is possible —with restraint. In the world we live in today, by contrast, we have too much order: we are, as we have been reminded so frequently lately, over-policed. Our contemporary fantasy is about lawlessness: about what would happen if the institutions of civility melted away and all we were left with was a hard-muscled, rangy guy who could do all the necessary calculations in his head to insure that the bad guy got what he had coming. That’s why there are rarely any police in Reacher novels—or judges or courts or lawyers or any discussion or consideration of the law. Nor is there any restraint on the part of the hero. He’s not pointing toward a more civilized tomorrow. He’s leading us back into the wilderness, with the reassurance that our psychopaths are bigger and stronger than the bad guys’ psychopaths."
Sargent also notes the dichotomy in Reacher's character, stating that he is intellectual and generous despite his exterior appearance of being "unkempt, unshaven and out of uniform, a loner, avenger, perpetual outsider at odds with the army". In Sargent's express opinion:
The thing about Reacher is that he is not just a thug, even if a well-meaning thug in the manner of, say, Rambo or Bruce Willis. He is also a thinker, an intellectual, capable of quoting Nietzsche or coming up with the etymology of "vagrant". And he speaks French....
...He therefore brings a certain amount of liberal-leaning finesse and élan to his encounters. He is sympathetic to deserters from the Iraq War and particularly severe on capitalist profiteers. You feel he would probably turn up at an Occupy Wall Street demo. There is something of the hippie in his rootless roaming around America, seeking out injustice and righting wrongs.
Curtis concurs, remarking that "Reacher isn’t just a mindless vigilante. He can also be a liberal do-gooder. He has expressed sympathy for gays in the military and undocumented immigrants. In Child’s latest book (at the time when this article was first published), A Wanted Man, Reacher worries that the Patriot Act will lead to all sorts of 'national security bullshit.' Child has invented a kind of progressive vigilantism. The scumbag is killed, but usually for the right reasons."
Others have been critical of the various implausibilities and contradictions present in the character and his behaviour. Notes The Washington Post journalist Kevin Nance: "The unlikelihoods and outright impossibilities stack up. Ever a frugal sort, Reacher travels mostly by hitchhiking (as he does at the beginning of “A Wanted Man” and 2001’s “Echo Burning,” both set roughly in the time they were written), even though the practice is roughly as current as bellbottoms and even though his appearance is, as previously established, notably simian. (Not that this deters a series of smart, attractive young women, most of them officers of the law, from jumping into bed with him.) And although he’s a loner who seems never so happy — rather like Agent Cooper in “Twin Peaks” — as when sitting quietly in a diner with a cup of black coffee and a piece of pie, he has an uncanny knack for stumbling into the worst kinds of trouble, almost none of it connected to himself."
Michael Cavacini has also noted the last implausibility mentioned by Nance, stating that unlike traditional whodunits, where a detective "simply solves a problem because it's his job", Reacher has no formal reason to be involved in anything and consequently "seems to always wind up in a situation where something goes wrong and he must make right".
Lee Child has described Reacher's accomplices and their characterisation and origin in the following terms: " The whole cast for each book is new. It kind of depends on what the scenario is and what the set up is. Do I use people that I actually know? In a way yeah, because you met people and you regard them as meta-typical as one thing or another – so as a large extent, yes, they are based on people I’ve met but not specific individuals."
- Jill Hemingway, exact age unknown, possibly in her thirties, was a suspended FBI agent operating freelance in New York during 1977. She had been investigating the criminal activities of a New York mobster, Croselli but her investigation had been shut down and she had been suspended, pending review as part of a deal cut by Croselli with the FBI. She had since tried to unsuccessfully bring Croselli down by getting him to boast of his crimes on tape. She admitted that bringing down Croselli had become somewhat of an obsession for her, stating "[Croselli] burns her up." Hemingway is described as a thin, pale, nervous, blonde woman and she teams up with a nearly seventeen year old Reacher in the novella High Heat to incriminate Croselli. She suffered from heart-related ailments and she died near the end of the story due to a heart attack after having accomplished her goal. Reacher described her death as: " She died young, but she had a smile on her face."
- Elizabeth Deveraux, late thirties, is a former Marine serving as a county sheriff in Carter Crossing, Mississippi in 1997. She appears in The Affair, where she tacitly condones Reacher's highly illegal ways of getting rid of some unsavory characters. She was a potential lover for Reacher, as they had sex several times, but ended up drifting apart.
- Karla Dixon, age unknown, possibly late 30s is a forensic accountant; formerly a Major in the Army and part of Reacher's 'Special Investigators Unit', which he formed and led in the 90s. They are reunited in Bad Luck & Trouble and secretly rekindle an affair, which they regret not starting back in the Army. She is described as 'dark, very pretty, comparatively small' and slim. She is extremely good with numbers and shares Reacher's fascination with mathematics.
- General Leon Garber, retired, was Reacher's former commanding officer, mentor and close friend. His only child is Jodie. He risked his life to help Reacher in Die Trying, and willed him his house, as his daughter is wealthy, didn't want it and already owns her own New York City home. He also appears in The Enemy and The Affair, and (through his funeral) in Tripwire.
- Jodie Garber-Jacob, 30, is the daughter of General Leon Garber. She met and fell in love with Reacher when she was 15 and was off-limits to him. In Tripwire, she is divorced, using her married name, working as a corporate attorney and reunites romantically with him after her father's funeral. She and Reacher lived together in New York City and upstate New York in Leon's house which was left in his will to Reacher, his surrogate son. She is mentioned in Echo Burning as having moved to Europe. She appears in Tripwire, and Running Blind (The Visitor in the United Kingdom and Australia).
- Eileen Ann Hutton, age unknown, is a Brigadier General in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps. She and Reacher had a relationship prior to, and featured in, One Shot.
- Dominique Kohl, 29, was a Sergeant First Class on the way up and assigned to Reacher's unit when he was a captain in the Army. She appears in Persuader, where Reacher remembers the events that lead to her death ten years earlier. Kohl is mentioned again in Personal, when Reacher partners with a woman who reminds him of Kohl.
- Duncan Munro, late thirties, is a member of Reacher's old 110th MP unit. He appears in The Affair.
- Frances Neagley, late thirties, is a partner with a successful private security firm, and former Army Master Sergeant and Military Policeman. She is of medium height, slim, and has dark hair and eyes. She spends large amounts of time in the gym and has a purely platonic relationship with Reacher, not liking to be touched. Her demeanor suggests that she could be considered a female counterpart to Reacher. Rarely impressed, Reacher describes her as sometimes scary. She appears in Without Fail, The Affair and Bad Luck and Trouble and Small Wars and is mentioned in Never Go Back. The first page of Bad Luck and Trouble includes a dedication "For the real Frances L. Neagley", who won a Bouchercon charity auction for the naming rights to a character.
- Stan Lowrey, late thirties, is a member of Reacher's old 110th MP unit. He is handsome, youthful, and full of energy. A kind of man that gets the job done. He appears in Bad Luck and Trouble and The Affair.
- Dave O'Donnell, late thirties, is a member of Reacher's old 110th MP unit. He appears in Bad Luck and Trouble. He is "tall, fair, handsome, like a stockbroker...carries an army blade in one pocket and a pair of ceramic brass-knuckles in the other." The ceramic knuckles are made from a composite stronger than steel, harder than brass and gets past any metal detector. He is meticulous, doesn't mind paperwork, and is usually underestimated because he looks like a white-collar office worker.
- Lieutenant Summer, 25, is an African-American Lieutenant in the Army Military Police. She is petite and slender, and appears in The Enemy. She is Reacher's accomplice throughout the novel and they have a brief relationship. She is promoted to Captain at the end of the novel.
- Officer Elizabeth Roscoe, 30, is a Margrave, Georgia police officer in Killing Floor.
- Holly Johnson, an FBI agent, appears in Die Trying.
- Lisa Harper, another FBI agent, appears in Running Blind (The Visitor in the United Kingdom and Australia).
- Alice Amanda Aaron, an attorney,appears in Echo Burning.
- Carmen Greer, a woman with an abusive husband, appears in Echo Burning.
- M.E. (Mary Ellen) Froelich, a Secret Service Agent, appears in Without Fail.
- Susan Duffy, appears in Persuader.
- Vaughan, exact age unknown, is a police officer in Hope, Colorado. She appears in Nothing to Lose.
- Helen Rodin, only appears in One Shot and in the live action movie "Jack Reacher" based on the book.
- Detective Theresa Lee an NYPD Detective, appears in Gone Tomorrow.
- Lauren Pauling, appears in The Hard Way.
- Julia Sorensen, 47, teams up with Reacher in A Wanted Man.
- Susan Turner, the Commanding Officer of Reacher's old unit, appears in 61 Hours and Never Go Back.
- Casey Nice, 28, described as having "blonde hair and green eyes and a heart shaped face" is a CIA analyst lent out to the State Department. She reminds Reacher of Dominique Kohl and he sees her as a "young, fit woman in the peak of condition, lean, smooth, somehow flexible and fluent and elastic". She is shown to take anti-anxiety medication and shares a platonic relationship with Reacher. Casey was born and raised in downstate Illinois, is a graduate from Yale University and has a distinct American accent which is exploited by Reacher when she accompanies him to London in Personal.
- Michelle Chang, an ex-FBI agent turned private investigator. Appears in Make Me.
- The 2012 film, Jack Reacher was adapted from the 2005 novel One Shot and starred Tom Cruise in the titular role. The film was directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
- It was announced in September 2014 that Tom Cruise would take on the role again in a sequel. The movie will be an adaptation of the 18th Jack Reacher book Never Go Back. Christopher McQuarrie will not be directing due to other commitments with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation also starring Cruise. On May 19, 2015, Deadline reported that Edward Zwick would direct the film and rewrite the script along with Marshall Herskovitz, last scripted by Richard Wenk.
- Reacher is mentioned several times in the Stephen King novel Under the Dome, where he is described by the character Colonel Cox as "the toughest goddam Army cop that ever served, in my humble opinion."[this quote needs a citation] Lee Child's endorsement of Under the Dome appears on the cover of at least one edition of the book.
- Reacher is referred to in the Hunt for Reacher series of novels and short stories by Diane Capri, but is never explicitly seen. Capri has said in an interview that the series was inspired by her wondering "What's [Reacher] doing between books?"
- In the introduction to Good and Valuable Consideration, it is mentioned that while creating his 'Nick Heller' series character, Joseph Finder borrowed many cues from Lee Child's Jack Reacher series.
Notes and references
- It is to be noted that the headbutt had often been attributed Reacher's "signature move "
- Tom Cruise's casting as Jack Reacher was met with severe criticism from fans of the book series, primarily because the disparity in their heights with Reacher portrayed as 6 ft 5 in tall in the novels while Cruise is 5 ft 7 in tall in real life
- He has no middle name, known as 'Reacher' even to his family as a child. Regular references are made to the fact that Reacher's given name is Jack, that it is not a nickname for John, and that he has no middle name. His military record officially refers to him as Jack (none) Reacher. From the time he was a boy, his family, even his mother, called him simply "Reacher", an appellation that has stayed with him, but was never given to his brother.
- The final days in the life of Reacher's grandfather, with flashbacks to various earlier times in his life, appear in the story Second Son, taking place when Reacher was 13 years old.
- It is mentioned in the novel Personal that Josephine Reacher died in 1990 while according to Lee Child's official website, her husband died two years before her. Thus simple arithmetic dictates her husband is bound to have died in 1988
- Curtis, Bryan (2012). "The Curious Case of Lee Child: Before Tom Cruise could become Jack Reacher, Jim Grant had to become Lee Child". Grantland (20 December). Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Hewit, Chris (2014). "Lee Child Talks The Next Reacher Movie". Empire (16 September). Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Fischer, Russ (2014). "Lee Child Comments on Next Jack Reacher Film". /Film (16 September). Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- White, Claire (2001). "A Conversation With Lee Child". The Internet Writing Journal. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Cornwell, Bob. "Lee Child Interview". TwBooks. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Sargent, Emily (2011). "Killer instinct: Is Tom Cruise the right man to play Lee Child's savage anti-hero on screen?". The Independent (30 October 2011). Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Bidinotto, Robert (17 March 2011). "Thriller: Lee Child and the creation of Jack Reacher". The Atlas Society. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- Harding, Natasha; Iggulden, Caroline (2015). "Writing Jack's love scenes gives me the performance anxiety you get with real sex". The Sun (UK) (July 2015). Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Martin, Andy (2015). "Lee Child on Jack Reacher: How the best-selling author writes his mysteries". The Independent (January 2015). Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Kellogg, Carolyn (21 December 2012). "Reader reactions to 'Jack Reacher': The fans are furious". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Sachs, Andrea (2012). "Lee Child on His New Thriller, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher and Wandering Heroes". Time (September 2012). Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Stansfield, James (22 November 2012). "Who is Jack Reacher?". Den of Geek. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Berenson, Alex (2014). "What Lee Child Has Learned from Writing the Jack Reacher Books". Esquire (December 2014). Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Child, Lee (April 2005). The Enemy. Dell Publishing Company. ISBN 9780440241010. Chapter 19
- Child, Lee. "The Official Website of Lee Child and Jack Reacher". Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- Child (2004). The Enemy.
- Bad Luck and Trouble. p. 11.
- Child, Lee (2004). The Enemy. TransworldDigital. ISBN 0-553-81585-7. Chapter 25
- Child (2010), 61 Hours, p. 229. Quote: "...Reacher had been an army liaison officer serving with the Marine Corps at the time of the barracks bombing. He had been badly wounded in the attack...The wound had healed fast and completely. It had left what the army called a disfiguring scar, which implied a real mess."
- Child, Lee (2012). Deep Down. Delacorte Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-345-53710-2.
- Child, Lee (2015). Make Me. Delacorte Press. ISBN 9780804178785. Chapter 23
- Child, Lee. Die Trying.a good instance of Reacher's shooting prowess
- Child, Lee (2005). One Shot. Transworld Digital. ISBN 0-385-33668-3. Chapter 12
- Child, Lee. 61 Hours."..like having a running chainsaw thrown at you.."
- Nance, Kevin (14 December 2012). "Why is the character of Jack Reacher so popular?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Drummond, Steve (2011). "Lee Child's 'The Affair': Sixteen Books In, Has Jack Reacher Still Got It?". npr (20 October 2011). Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Child, Lee (2013). Never Go Back. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781409030805.Chapter 38
- Die Trying, Chapter 22.
- Child, Lee (2001). Echo Burning. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 0-515-13331-0.Chapter 6. Quote:One night I just kind of exploded with fury. I yelled O-K-, come out and try it! Just damn well try it! I'll beat the shit right out of you! I raced it down. I turned the fear into aggression.
- Child, Lee (2013). Never Go Back. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781409030805.Chapters 30 & 38
- Child, Lee (2014). Personal. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781473508774.Chapter 28
- Child, Lee (2013). Never Go Back. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781409030805.Chapter 35
- Child, Lee (2010). Worth Dying For. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781407083131.Chapter 6. Quote: Reacher hit him, a straight right to the nose, a big vicious blow, his knuckles driving through cartilage and bone and crushing it all flat.
- Child, Lee (2006). The Hard Way. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 0-385-33669-1.Chapter 47. Quote: I'm going to send Hobart down to Birmingham or Nashville and get him fixed up right. I'm going to buy him a lifetime's supply of spare parts and I'm going to rent him a place to live and I'm going to give him some walking-around money because my guess is he's not very employable right now. At least not in his old trade. And then if there's anything left, then sure, I'll buy myself a new shirt.
- Child, Lee (2014). Personal. 61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781473508774.Chapter 18
- Child (1997), Killing Floor, p. 522.
- Bad Luck and Trouble. p. 15. ISBN 9780440244981.
- Child, Lee (2004). The Enemy. Transworld Publishers. ISBN 0-553-81585-7. Chapter 5
- Lee Child, A Wanted Man, 2012, p. 169
- Child, Lee (2013). High Heat. Delacorte Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-345-54664-7.
- Child,Lee, Persuader(2003) Chapter 3, Quote: I never work out.
- Child (1999), Killing Floor, pp. 2f. Quote: "He had served thirteen years in the Army, and the only time he was wounded it wasn't with a bullet. It was with a fragment of a Marine sergeant's jawbone."
- Never Go Back, Lee Child, Chapter 35
She traced around his ear, and his neck, and his chest. She put the tip of her pinkie in his bullet hole. It fit just right. "A .38," he said. "A weak load."
- Child, Lee (2004). The Enemy. London: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 0-553-81585-7.Chapter 6
- Child, Lee (2011). "13". Second Son. Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9781446497111.
- Child, Lee (2002). Without Fail. Transworld Publishers. ISBN 978-0-515-14431-4. Chapter 11
- Child, Lee (2004). The Enemy. Transworld Publishers. ISBN 0-553-81585-7. Chapter 14
- Child, Lee (1997). Killing Floor. 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA: Penguin Group (USA) Inc. ISBN 1-4295-1117-6. Chapter 10
- Gekoski, Rick (29 August 2013). "Why I love Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Gladwell, Malcolm (9 September 2015). "The Lawless Pleasures of Lee Child's Jack Reacher Novels". The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Cavacini, Michael (2014). "An Interview With International Best-Selling Author Lee Child". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Flanagan, Amie (9 September 2014). "An Interview With Lee Child". Keys To The Page. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- High Heat. Delacorte Press. 2013. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-345-54664-7.
- High Heat. Delacorte Press. 2013. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-345-54664-7.
- "Characters welcomed! And you can be one, too". Weblogs.sun-sentinel.com.
- Child, Lee (2014). Personal. Bantam Press. ISBN 9780593073827. Chapter 2
- Child, Lee (2014). Personal. Bantam Press. ISBN 9780593073827. Chapter 30
- Fleming, Mike (15 July 2011). "Tom Cruise Locked To Play Jack Reacher In 'One Shot' For Paramount And Skydance". Deadline. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
- McWeeny, Drew (20 October 2010). "Why hasn't Paramount started making Jack Reacher movies?". HitFix. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
- Schaefer, Sandy (September 2014). "'Jack Reacher' Author Says the Movie Sequel Will Have a New Director". Screen Rant. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- Fleming Jr, Mike (May 19, 2015). "Ed Zwick In Talks To Direct 'Jack Reacher' Sequel". deadline.com. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- Chester's Mills' police officer Jackie Wettington is revealed to have previously served as a military policewoman in Germany, and she is recommended to Colonel Cox by Reacher.
- "Don't Know Jack: Interview With Diane Capri | Simplycreating". Sharonkowensimplycreating.wordpress.com.
- Good And Valuable Consideration. Sphere. 2014. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-7515-6349-8. Quote: "When Joseph Finder decided to try a series character, he took many cues from Lee Child’s Jack Reacher."
- Child, Lee (1997). Killing Floor. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0515123447. OCLC 38994823.
- Child, Lee (1999). Die Trying. New York: Jove. ISBN 0515125024.
- Child, Lee (2002). Without Fail. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0399148612.
- Child, Lee (2003). Persuader. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 9780440245988.
- Child, Lee (2004). The Enemy. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385336675.
- Child, Lee (2010). 61 Hours. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 9780440243694.
- Child, Lee (2011). The Affair. New York: Dell. ISBN 9780440246305.
- Child, Lee (2014). Personal. London: Bantam Press. ISBN 9780593073827.
- Child, Lee (2013). High Heat. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-0-345-54664-7.
- Curtis, Bryan (20 December 2012). "The Curious Case of Lee Child: Before Tom Cruise could become Jack Reacher, Jim Grant had to become Lee Child". GRANTLAND. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Author Lee Child's Official website