So this big guy walks into a bar…
Now, I’m as big a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, the best-selling, coffee-slurping palooka, as the next jasper, and I’m happy for his success–Lee’s a great guy. He’s generous to a fault, and kind to other writers and fellow human beings. I’ve had the good fortune to interview him, and have run into him a number of times. I wish him well.
But come on! Of course, everyone should have friends, and I don’t begrudge Reacher making new friends occasionally–it can be fun seeing the big lug stray from his comfort zone. Despite the rumours, Reacher can play well with others, as evidenced in these short stories co-written by Child:
- “Good and Valuable Consideration” (2014, FaceOff)
Co-written with Joseph Finder, featuring Finder’s ex-Special Forces bad ass turned “corporate intelligence specialist” Nick Heller.
- “Faking a Murderer” (2017, Matchup)
Co-written with Kathy Reichs, featuring Montreal forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
- “Cleaning the Gold” (May 2019, audio/digital) | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
Co-written with Karin Slaughter, featuring her Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Trent.
For fans, these are enjoyable little forays, and I don’t think Reacher’s Creatures mind much about Child and Reacher’s occasional hook-up with another author.
But whole series and publishing careers by other writers have sprung up in Reacher’s wake that pretty much owe their entire raison d’etre to the man with the folding toothbrush. They all function more-or-less within Reacher’s universe (and apparently with Child’s approval), but they remind me of nothing so much as those tiny parasites that attach themselves to a shark’s skin, and go along for the ride. Sure, they serve a purpose (the wheel of life, etc.), but you have to wonder… why?
- The Jim Grant Thrillers
By Colin Campbell
A “friend” of Lee Child, who blurbed the first book, calling it “very real, very good,” Campbell’s Jim Grant is essentially a clone of Reacher’s, a former British cop wandering the U.S. of A., a freelance trouble-magnet with no fixed address. Campbell at least gets points for cheekiness– Jim Grant is Lee Child’s real name.
- The Jack Reacher Cases
By Dan Ames
Lauren Pauling, a former FBI agent turned private eye, keeps crossing paths with Reacher, but never quite hooking up. Always the bridesmaid?
- Jack Reacher’s Special Investigators Series
By Dan AmesNot content with penning the Jack Reacher Cases (above), the ever-prolific coattail rider Ames double dips with this series. Supposedly, while travelling across the USA armed only with a bankcard and a toothbrush, Reacher somehow finds the time to handpick “a group of the smartest, toughest and most fearless individuals in the Army’s 110th MP to form an elite unit.” And of course it’s once again “set in the Reacher universe by permission of Lee Child.” Really, Lee?
- The Hunt for Jack Reacher Series
By Diane Capri
FBI Special Agents KIM OTTO and CARLOS GASPAR have a special, off-the-books assignment–find Reacher. But somehow, over a dozen or so novels, they always seem to just miss him, and find themselves cleaning up the messes he leaves behind.