Action & Adventure

10 Thrilling Books Like Jack Reacher

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Over the course of 26 novels and counting, Jack Reacher has become one of the most popular characters in the thriller world. Physically imposing, Reacher is a brilliant character. He’s a patriot who served his country honorably in the military who rejects consumer culture and traditional American life. Restlessly wandering the country, Reacher is continually drawn into deadly adventures because he can’t stomach injustice. If you’re seeking two-fisted thrillers that capture the same precision of worldbuilding and character development combined with heart-racing action, here are 10 thrilling books like the Jack Reacher series by Lee and Andrew Child.

1. The John Puller Series, by David Baldacci

If you’ve run out of Jack Reacher novels, David Baldacci’s John Puller Series is the obvious solution. Like Reacher, Puller was forged in the military, is physically fit, and is deceptively brilliant. The main difference is that Puller remains in the military, investigating crimes that involve military personnel, property, or interests. Puller’s role sees him travel the world much in the same way Reacher does, but with more purpose and the benefit of a rank and authority. But that doesn’t make him any less imposing—or the stories any less exciting.

2. The Jason Bourne Series, by Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader, and Brian Freeman

Like Jack Reacher’s distant cousin, Jason Bourne is not like other men. After a sterling military career and incredible personal loss, Bourne takes on the identity of an extraordinarily dangerous assassin. He’s emotionally complex and extremely deadly. The Jason Bourne Series was originated by Robert Ludlum and continued by Eric Van Lustbader and Brian Freeman. The plots are less grounded than Reacher’s, and Bourne is usually more concerned with survival and revenge than justice, but the one-man-army aspect of Bourne will appeal to fans of Childs’ books. As will the way Bourne often relies on his training and intelligence to outwit his foes, a Reacher trademark that also serves to amplify the satisfaction of Bourne’s victories.

3. The Glasgow Trilogy, by Malcolm MacKay

Calum MacLean, the star of Malcolm MacKay’s Glasgow Trilogy, is very different from Jack Reacher. He’s a criminal, after all, a paid assassin for whom one imagines Reacher would have little respect. But MacLean’s thoughtful, often poignant existence will hit the same pleasure centers as Jack Reacher. Over the course of a trilogy that’s really three parts of a larger story, MacLean tires of his existence and begins to plan decisively for a clean exit. But anyone who has ever read a crime novel knows getting out clean is never easy. Smart, precise, and conflicted, MacLean is cut from similar cloth as Reacher, but more selfish and less altruistic. Luckily, that doesn’t make MacKay’s tightly-plotted thrillers any less exciting or surprising.

4. The Bosch Series, by Michael Connelly

Bosch shares many characteristics with Jack Reacher. He’s both part of the establishment and firmly opposed to it. He starts as a veteran LAPD detective, but he constantly butts heads with his superiors and flouts the rules. Later, he resigns and becomes a private investigator, free to do things his own way. His sense of right and wrong and his refusal to be intimidated will satisfy anyone who loves Reacher’s implacable sense of justice. Michael Connelly also builds a gritty, believable world in The Bosch Series that’s less mobile than Reacher’s—but no less deeply imagined. It’s a world filled with police and criminals from all points on the intelligence spectrum. Like the Reacher books, these stories never overlook the basic humanity at the center of every crime.

5. The Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series, by Robert Crais

In Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series, private investigator Elvis Cole is a former military man  like Jack Reacher. He’s also a man who can’t let an unjust situation persist. With his partner Joe Pike, Cole lends his talents both physical and mental to the righting of wrongs. While Cole’s life is more structured than Reacher’s, he’s always in the role of helping the powerless against the powerful in Hollywood and Los Angeles. And just like Reacher, he and Pike usually find themselves up against well-funded, ruthless criminals who seem to have every advantage. Except one, that is—they’re not Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

6. The Millennium Series, by Stieg Larsson and David Lagercrantz

Superficially, Lisbeth Salander doesn’t seem to resemble Jack Reacher at all. She’s not physically imposing, and she’s motivated more by revenge and rage than any moral sense. But in The Millennium Series, Salander demonstrates a clear sense of right and wrong. She frequently goes out of her way to punish those who deserve it. She also sports the same clear-eyed intelligence as Reacher. Though she lacks his military background, her own time in the grimy underground gives her the same sort of edge. If you want a little variation on the Reacher formula, Salander is a good bet.

7. The Sam Dryden Series, by Patrick Lee

If you love Jack Reacher but wouldn’t mind a little sci-fi action in the mix, Patrick Lee’s Sam Dryden Series is a perfect choice. Sometimes described as Jack Reacher meets The X-Files, the series follows Sam Dryden, a retired special forces veteran dealing with terrible personal tragedy. Dryden’s moral code and sense of justice push him into dangerous situations dealing with forces both conventional and uncanny. Like Reacher, Dryden’s a one-man army who surprises his enemies with his skills, intelligence, and refusal to back down. Blending mind-bending ideas with pulse-pounding action, Lee’s series is a perfect choice for Reacher fans.

8. The Jack Parlabane Series, by Christopher Brookmyre

With plots that unfold at a breakneck pace and a dark, scathing style of humor, Christopher Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane Series is a little left-of-center from Jack Reacher. Parlabane, an investigative journalist who refuses to give up once he’s on the scent of a story, is kind of an anti-Reacher. He’s frequently hungover and not physically skilled or intimidating. But once he begins investigating a crime, there is no force in the universe that can convince him to give up before he’s uncovered the truth. If you’re looking for a series that combines Reacher’s action and twisty plots with dialog that’s usually described as “sparkling” (a nice change of pace from a character who so often says absolutely nothing at all), this is the series for you.

9. The Mitch Rapp Series, by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills

After his high school sweetheart dies in a terrorist attack, Mitch Rapp is recruited by the CIA as an unofficial counter-terrorism agent. The CIA then proceeds to transform Rapp into a one-man killing machine, more than capable of enduring physical suffering that would break a normal person. Rapp’s approach to taking down evil men is right up Reacher’s alley—smart, unflinching, and exceedingly violent. If you love Reacher’s adventures but would love to see them play out on the world stage with global stakes, the Mitch Rapp Series is an ideal choice.

10. The Ben Hope Series, by Scott Mariani

Jack Reacher with a twist of James Bond and Dan Brown, Ben Hope is a former SAS officer who frequently finds himself engaged to find missing people, particularly children. Over the course of the Ben Hope Series, Hope forms a team of like-minded people who square off against increasingly dangerous and ruthless elements, almost always with a historical artifact or legend complicating things. Hope struggles with mental health and despair, but like Reacher, he can’t help but see every case through to the end. Even if that means killing a whole lot of very bad people.

About Author

Jeff Somers ( was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. He is the author of nine novels, a book on the craft of writing, and numerous short stories. His guitar playing is a plague upon his household and his lovely wife The Duchess is convinced he would die if left to his own devices.

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