Lee Child

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Lee Child
Lee Child at Bouchercon XLI, 2010
Lee Child at Bouchercon XLI, 2010
Born James D. Grant[1]
(1954-10-29) 29 October 1954 (age 63)
Coventry, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Author
Nationality English
Period 1985–present
Genre Crime fiction, mystery, thriller
Notable works Jack Reacher series of novels


James D. "Jim" Grant (born 29 October 1954), primarily known by his pen name Lee Child, is a British author who writes thriller novels, and is best known for his Jack Reacher novel series.[2] The books follow the adventures of a former American military policeman, Jack Reacher, who wanders the United States. His first novel, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony Award, and the Barry Award for Best First Novel.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Jim Grant was born in Coventry, England.[5] His father was a civil servant.[6] He is the second of four sons;[7] his younger brother, Andrew Grant, is also a thriller novelist. Grant's family relocated to Handsworth Wood in Birmingham when he was four years old so that the boys could receive a better education.[8] Grant attended Cherry Orchard Primary School in Handsworth Wood until the age of 11. He attended King Edward's School, Birmingham.[9]

In 1974, at age 20, Grant studied law[10] at University of Sheffield, though he had no intention of entering the legal profession and, during his student days, worked backstage in a theatre.[6] After graduating, he worked in commercial television.[10] He received a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree from the University of Sheffield in 1977 and returned to the University to receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) in 2009.


Television production career[edit]

Grant at Bouchercon XL, 2009

Grant joined Granada Television, part of the UK's ITV Network, in Manchester as a presentation director.[11] There he was involved with shows including Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. Grant was involved in the transmission of more than 40,000 hours of programming for Granada, writing thousands of commercials and news stories.[12] He worked at Granada from 1977 to 1995[6] and ended his career there with two years as a trade union shop steward.[13]

Writing career[edit]

After being made redundant from his job due to corporate restructuring,[11] Grant decided to start writing novels, stating they are "the purest form of entertainment."[14] In 1997, his first novel, Killing Floor, was published, and he moved to the United States in the summer of 1998.[10]

Grant starts each new installment of his book series on the anniversary day he began writing the first book in the wake of a job loss. [15]

His pen name "Lee" comes from a family joke about a heard mispronunciation of the name of Renault's Le Car, as 'Lee Car'. Calling anything 'Lee' became a family gag. His daughter, Ruth, was 'lee child'.

Happily for Grant, 'Child' places his books alphabetically on bookstore and library shelves between crime fiction greats Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.[11]

Grant has said that he chose the name Reacher for the central character in his novels because he himself is tall and when they were grocery shopping his wife Jane remarked: "'Hey, if this writing thing doesn't pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket.' ... 'I thought, Reacher — good name.'"[6]

Some books in the Reacher series are written in first person, while others are written in the third person. Grant has characterised the books as revenge stories – "Somebody does a very bad thing, and Reacher takes revenge" – driven by his anger at the downsizing at Granada. Although English, he deliberately chose to write American-style thrillers.[11]

In 2007, Grant collaborated with 14 other writers to create the 17-part serial thriller The Chopin Manuscript, narrated by Alfred Molina. This was broadcast weekly on Audible.com between 25 September 2007 and 13 November 2007.

On 30 June 2008, it was announced that Grant would be taking up a Visiting Professorship at the University of Sheffield from November 2008. In 2009, Grant funded 52 Jack Reacher scholarships for students at the university.[16]

Grant was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America in 2009.[17]

Movie adaptations[edit]

In 2012, his ninth novel, One Shot, was adapted into Jack Reacher, an American thriller film starring Tom Cruise. The movie was directed and written by Christopher McQuarrie. Grant made a cameo appearance as a police desk sergeant in the film.[18]

In 2016, his eighteenth novel, Never Go Back, was adapted into Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, with Tom Cruise reprising the role. The film was directed by Edward Zwick, and the screenplay was written by Richard Wenk, Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz. In the film, the final scene is set in New Orleans, which was not a location in the book. The author approved this addition to help the New Orleans economy.[19] In the film, Grant made a cameo appearance as a TSA agent.[20] In the bonus footage on the Blu-ray disc, Child explained that in both films, his cameo appearance involves passing judgment on the character of Jack Reacher, and speculated that he will repeat these type of appearances in future Jack Reacher movies.[21]

Writing style[edit]

Grant's prose has been described as "hardboiled" and "commercial" in style, with short sentences, often without a verb, more exclamations than sentences. A 2012 interview suggested that many aspects of the Jack Reacher novels were deliberately aimed at maintaining the books' profitability, rather than for literary reasons. For instance, making Jack Reacher have one parent who was French was suggested as being partly because the presence of only American members of Reacher's family would limit the series' appeal in France. The same interview stated that Grant "didn't apologise about the commercial nature" of his fiction.[22]


In January 2012, Grant donated £10,000 (about US$16,000 at the time) towards a new vehicle for Brecon Mountain Rescue Team in Wales. His brother is a senior member of the team. The team's former control vehicle was written off after a collision in 2011.[23]

Grant is an annual sponsor and original member of Thrillerfest. [24]

Personal life[edit]

Grant married his wife Jane in 1975,[6] They reside in her native New York.[10] They have a daughter.[6]

Grant is a fan of Aston Villa Football Club[25] and has been known to include the names of Aston Villa players in his books.[26]

In 2013, the Daily Mail quoted him saying that he writes while intoxicated ("high") by cannabis and that he has smoked the recreational drug five nights a week for 44 years.[27] However, in a phone interview in November 2013, he clarified his comments to the Irish Examiner, saying he's never written while high. "Yeah, that's true," Child told The Post-Standard. "I mean, people say to me, 'There was that story in the newspaper,' and I say, 'No, that's The Daily Mail.' In Britain, that's not a newspaper, you know, that's a scandal sheet where they make stuff up. It's not very reliable. And certainly I don't deny smoking the occasional joint, but I don't work when I'm stoned because you don't get much done that way."[28]

Novels and awards[edit]

Title Year ISBN Voice Awards/Nominations
1 Killing Floor 1997 0-593-04143-7 1st Person Anthony Award; Barry Award; Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize; Dilys Award nominee; Macavity Award nominee
2 Die Trying 1998 0-593-04144-5 3rd Person WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award
3 Tripwire 1999 0-593-04393-6 3rd Person
4 The Visitor (US title: Running Blind) 2000 0-593-04399-5 3rd Person
5 Echo Burning 2001 0-593-04659-5 3rd Person
6 Without Fail 2002 0-593-04686-2 3rd Person Dilys Award nominee; Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee
7 Persuader 2003 0-593-04689-7 1st Person Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee
8 The Enemy 2004 0-593-05182-3 1st Person Barry Award; Nero Award; Dilys Award nominee
9 One Shot 2005 0-593-05183-1 3rd Person Macavity Award nominee
10 The Hard Way 2006 978-0-593-05184-9 3rd Person
11 Bad Luck and Trouble 2007 978-0-593-05701-8 3rd Person Shortlisted for Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2009[29]
12 Nothing To Lose 2008 978-0-593-05702-5 3rd Person
13 Gone Tomorrow 2009 978-0-593-05705-6 1st Person
14 61 Hours 2010 978-0-593-05706-3 3rd Person Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2011
15 Worth Dying For 2010 978-0-593-06566-2 3rd Person
16 The Affair 2011 978-0-593-06570-9 1st Person
17 A Wanted Man 2012 978-0-593-06573-0 3rd Person Specsavers' National Book Award, Thriller & Crime Novel of the Year[30]
18 Never Go Back 2013 978-0-593-06574-7 3rd Person
19 Personal 2014 978-0-593-07382-7 1st Person RBA Prize for Crime Writing valued at €125,000[31]
20 Make Me[32] 2015 978-0-593-07388-9 3rd Person
21 Night School[33] 2016 978-0-593-07390-2 3rd Person
22 The Midnight Line 2017 978-0-593-07818-1 3rd Person
23 Past Tense[34] 2018 978-0-593-07819-8 3rd Person

Note: For consistency, ISBN shows Bantam (UK) hardcover, first printings only.

Honorary Degrees[edit]

James Grant A.K.A. Lee Child has received honorary degrees from several universities. These include:

Location Date School Degree
 England 2009 University of Sheffield Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) [35]
 England 21 July 2011 De Montfort University Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) [36]

Other awards[edit]

Other books[edit]

  • 2017 – No Middle Name. Includes an original novella ("Too Much Time"), and the following short stories: "Deep Down", "Everyone Talks", "Guy Walks into a Bar", "High Heat", "James Penney’s New Identity" (the original version which is longer), "Maybe They Have a Tradition", "No Room at the Motel", "Not a Drill", "Second Son", "Small Wars", and "The Picture of the Lonely Diner".

Short stories[edit]

Child receiving a Barry Award in 2005 for The Enemy.
  • "James Penney's New Identity" from Fresh Blood 3 (edited by Mike Ripley and Maxim Jakubowski) and from Thriller (US)
  • "The Snake Eater by the Numbers" from Like a Charm (edited by Karin Slaughter)
  • "Ten Keys" from The Cocaine Chronicles (edited by Jervey Tervalon and Gary Phillips)
  • "The Greatest Trick of All" from Greatest Hits (edited by Robert J Randisi)
  • "Guy Walks into a Bar..." (a prequel to Gone Tomorrow, in The New York Times[38]
  • "Me & Mr. Rafferty" from The Dark End of the Street (edited by Jonathan Santlofer and S. J. Rozan)
  • "The Bodyguard" from First Thrills (edited by Lee Child)
  • "Second Son" (electronic short story about Jack Reacher, 15 August 2011)
  • "Addicted to Sweetness" from The Rich and the Dead (edited by Nelson DeMille)
  • "Everyone Talks" (Reacher short story, in Esquire (June/July 2012, US edition)
  • "Deep Down" (electronic short story about Jack Reacher, 16 June 2012)
  • "The Hollywood I Remember" (Short story about Jack Reacher, in short story collection Vengeance, edited by Lee Child, 2012)
  • "High Heat" (electronic short story about a teenaged Jack Reacher, 6 August 2013)
  • "Good and Valuable Consideration" from Face Off (with Joseph Finder, edited by David Baldacci) June 2014
  • "Not a Drill" (electronic short story about Jack Reacher, 29 July 2014)
  • "Small Wars" (electronic short story about Jack Reacher, 18 August 2015)
  • "Faking a Murderer" from Matchup (short story about Jack Reacher and Temperance Brennan, 6 June 2017) (with Kathy Reichs)


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  2. ^ Smith, David (22 June 2008). "Sacked at 40 and on the scrapheap. Now Brummie tops US book charts". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  3. ^ Child, Lee (2012-10-30). Killing Floor. Penguin. ISBN 9780515153651. 
  4. ^ "The Barry Awards: A Literary Award for Crime Fiction". awards.omnimystery.com. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  5. ^ Glass, Ben (2 December 2008). "If you don't know Lee Child, you don't know Jack". It's All About Coventry. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Karim, Ali (May 2003). "The Persuasive Lee Child". January Magazine. Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  7. ^ "Saved by the Beatles in Gray Britain", Marc Myers, Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2017
  8. ^ Cornwell, Bob. "A Reacher Moment...or Two". twbooks.co.uk. Tangled Web Books UK. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  9. ^ Smith, David (22 June 2008). "Sacked at 40 and on the Scrapheap: Now Brummie tops US Book Charts". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 June 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c d White, Claire E. (August 2001). "A Conversation With Lee Child". The Internet Writing Journal; writerswrite.com. Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c d 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.com. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  12. ^ "Lee Child". BookBrowse.com. 1 May 2004. 
  13. ^ "A Reacher Moment…or two". twbooks.co.uk. Tangled Web UK. 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "Select Editions". Readers Digest; RD.com. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  15. ^ "Salon Talks". Salon Talks; Salon.com. Retrieved 26 May 2018. 
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (July 30, 2009). "Students offered scholarships from fictional crimefighter, Jack Reacher". The Guardian. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  17. ^ "People and Publishing: Milestones". Locus: 8. April 2009. 
  18. ^ "Jack Reacher (2012)". IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Movies". LeeChild.com. 
  20. ^ "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)". IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Lee Child's cameo in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back". YouTube.com. Lee Child. January 20, 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  22. ^ Maher, Kevin (25 August 2012). "Lee Child on creating Jack Reacher". The Times. 
  23. ^ "Author Lee Child's £10k to Brecon Mountain Rescue Team". BBC News. 24 January 2012. 
  24. ^ http://thrillerfest.com/
  25. ^ "Exclusive interview with ace author Child in matchday programme". AVFC.co.uk. Aston Villa Football Club. 15 September 2011. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  26. ^ Child, Lee (1 September 2014). "Lee Child". Simon Mayo Drivetime. Interviewed by Simon Mayo. Radio 2; BBC. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  27. ^ Witheridge, Annette (17 August 2013). "'I've smoked cannabis five nights a week for 44 years and my dealer's on speed dial': Shock confession by bestselling thriller writer Lee Child". Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Herbert, Geoff (15 December 2013). "'Jack Reacher' author Lee Child talks Tom Cruise and marijuana before Syracuse lecture". Syracuse.com. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston's Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". digyorkshire.com. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009. 
  30. ^ Flood, Alison (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  31. ^ "British author Lee Child receives the "prestigious" RBA Prize for Crime Writing". CatalanNewsAgency.com. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  32. ^ "Jack Reacher Book #20". leechild.us. United States. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  33. ^ "Jack Reacher Book #21". leechild.us. United States. 2 December 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  34. ^ "[Post on Lee Child's Facebook account]". United States. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 
  35. ^ http://calendar.dept.shef.ac.uk/calendar/21_hon_grad.pdf
  36. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-14231981
  37. ^ Flood, Alison (12 February 2013). "Lee Child gets away with major crime writing award". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  38. ^ Child, Lee (6 June 2009). "Guy Walks Into a Bar... ". The New York Times.

External links[edit]