Lee Child Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Lee Child’s key decision in creating Jack Reacher was to make him free from any psychological problems; unlike other modern thriller/mystery heroes, Reacher is in no way dysfunctional. In this way, Reacher resembles the character that initially inspired Child when he was thinking about creating a mystery/thriller hero: John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. Reacher is consciously constructed as an almost mythical hero, whose antecedents stretch back to Homer and beyond. Even though Reacher appeared before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he is the perfect hero for the post-9/11 world, being smart, capable, ruthless, and always in search of justice, yet able to temper action with mercy when appropriate. Child’s audience has grown with each book in the series, and his popularity has been strengthened by the regularity with which each book appears and the works’ overall high quality. Child has said that he regards his promise to produce a book a year as an obligation not only to his publishers but also to his fans. The books have been generally well received, and fans of the novels have organized Web sites about Reacher. Child does pay attention to fans’ concerns, questions, and suggestions; he informed readers as to how Reacher became the man he is by writing The Enemy (2004), which takes place when Reacher was an officer in the military police.

Lee Child Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anderson, Patrick. The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction. New York: Random House, 2007. Contains a short biography of Child along with analysis of Without Fail and One Shot.

Child, Lee. Interview with Lee Child by David Thomas. The Sunday Telegraph, April 1, 2007, p. O16. This interview with Child examines why he writes and includes a discussion of thrillers. Child was asked to write a James Bond novel but refused.

Child, Lee. “Lee Child: Late to the Crime Scene.” Interview by Dick Donahue. Publishers Weekly 251, no. 22 (May 31, 2004): 44-45. A detailed yet concise interview with Child, covering the main facets of his career.

Child, Lee. “Lee Child: The Loner They Love.” Interview by Benedicte Page. Bookseller (March 24, 2006): 20-21. Contains an interview with Child at a tenth anniversary party for his Reacher series.

Child, Lee. The Official Site of Lee Child and Jack Reacher. http://www.leechild.com. Child’s Web site has valuable links to online interviews and a forum for his fans, also known as Reacher’s Creatures.

Maslin, Janet. “Intrepid Hero Coolly Navigates a Grisly World of Hurt.” Review of The Hard Way, by Lee Child. The New York Times, May 11, 2006, p. E11. This review of the tenth Reacher novel, The Hard Way, emphasizes Child’s skill in plotting and in documenting Reacher’s thought process.

Trachtenberg, Jeffrey. “Odd Twist for Hero of Popular Thrillers: Women Like Him, Too.” The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2006, p. A1. Shows that women make up a large portion of Child’s readers and attributes this popularity to an increasing acceptance by women of violence in the media and a post-9/11 outlook on the world’s dangers.