Contribution

(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.