One Shot (novel)

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One Shot
Book cover
AuthorLee Child
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesJack Reacher
Release number
GenreThriller novel
PublisherBantam Press (UK), Delacorte Press (US)
Publication date
UK: 4 April 2005
US: 14 June 2005
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded byThe Enemy 
Followed byThe Hard Way 

One Shot is the ninth book in the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child. The book title is based on "One shot, one kill," the military sniper's creed. The novel was adapted into the 2012 film Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise as the title character. This book is written in the third person.


In an Indiana city, a gunman in a parking garage fires into a rush-hour crowd in a public plaza, killing five apparently random victims with six shots. The shooter leaves a trail behind for the police to track him down. Evidence of a shell case and a quarter bearing the same fingerprints, points to James Barr, a former Army infantry sniper. He is arrested, but will only say two things to the police: "They got the wrong guy," and "Get Jack Reacher for me." Reacher, a former Army military police officer and now a drifter, is 1,500 miles (2,400 km) away, but sees the news on CNN and gets on a bus to Indiana. Reacher has no job, no home, no car, and a shrinking savings account from his past military pay.

Instead of clearing Barr, Reacher wants to assist the prosecution in convicting him. When Reacher was an investigating military policeman years past, Barr had gone on a killing spree similar to the Indiana shootout, murdering four men during the war in Kuwait. Convoluted military politics and a technicality let Barr walk free. Reacher swore to track the sniper down if he ever tried it again. Reacher believes Barr is guilty, but Barr's sister Rosemary is convinced of her brother's innocence. She entreats lawyer Helen Rodin to defend him. Helen's father is the district attorney who will prosecute the case. When Reacher arrives in Indiana, Barr has been beaten so badly while in prison that he cannot remember anything about the day of the murders. Local NBC news reporter Ann Yanni is looking for information about the case, and Reacher includes her in his investigation, in exchange for the use of her car and a guaranteed public exposé on Barr. Reacher knows that 35 yards, the parking garage shooting distance to the victims, is point-blank range for a trained military sniper like Barr. That would indicate that the shooter missed one shot on purpose.

Reacher drives to Kentucky to the shooting range where the sniper practiced and learns more facts from Gunny Samuel Cash, the former US Marine who owns the place. This makes Reacher doubt the solidity of the case against Barr. Cash is unwilling to reveal information or his records to Reacher, but grudgingly agrees to talk if Reacher hits a paper target dead center at 300 yards with one shot. After succeeding, Reacher is shown 32 sheets of target paper from three years' worth of Barr's practice shootings, every single sheet with dead-on maximum scores. Reacher deduces that the target sheets were faked by using a handgun at point blank range.

After the visit to the shooting range, Reacher adds Cash's information to the case evidence. Helen and Rosemary sift through the clues and get Reacher to conclude that Barr is innocent, which means someone set up Barr as the sniper. Someone is also trying to get Reacher off the case, which formerly seemed a slam-dunk, but is now falling apart. Reacher is teamed with Helen, working against a prosecution team that has a secret of its own. Reacher gets closer to the unseen enemy pulling the strings, leading him to the real perpetrators, a Russian gang masquerading as legitimate businessmen. The gang's 80-year-old capo spent much of his life in a Soviet gulag and is known only as the Zec (prisoner). Reacher outwits the mob guards in the Russian gang's fortress, dispatching five hoods before confronting the boss and forcing him to come clean on the conspiracy: covering up the murder of the one victim he wants dead with the other four victims. The real killer is shot, the Zec chooses to confess to the authorities who arrive on the scene, Barr goes free, and Reacher moves on.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Film adaptation[edit]

The novel was adapted into the 2012 film Jack Reacher. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the film stars Tom Cruise as the title character. The film entered production in October 2011, and concluded in January 2012. The setting, however, was changed from Indiana to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the film was shot in its entirety. Lee Child has a cameo role as the property desk officer in the police station after Reacher's arrest. The film was released on 21 December 2012. A premiere at Pittsburgh's Southside Works megaplex on 15 December, to have been attended by the film's stars and Child, was postponed following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Macavity Award winners and nominees". Mystery Readers. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2009.

External links[edit]