The Reacher Guy: A Biography of Lee Child

The Reacher Guy: A Biography of Lee Child

by Heather Martin


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An exquisitely written and nuanced biography of an exceptional individual and writer who has created the # 1 international bestselling hero Jack Reacher, revered by dedicated and loyal readers worldwide.

Lee Child has a great public persona: he is gracious and generous with readers and fans. But Jim Grant is a reticent and very private man.

This rags-to-riches literary and social biography is based principally on disarmingly frank personal conversations and correspondence with the author since 2016 and privileged access to archival materials. It consists almost entirely of original material, and is the nearest thing the world is likely to get to the autobiography he does not intend to write.

There are a handful of great Lee Child/Reacher stories that have been recycled over and over again. They are so good that no one has bothered to look beyond them. This book revisits (and sometimes revises) those irresistible stories, but goes back further and digs deeper. The emphasis on chronology, accuracy and specificity is unprecedented.

The Lee Child origin myth is much loved. But mostly it sees him springing fully formed from the brow of Granada Television. There are glancing references to Aston Villa and the schoolyard, but no one has examined the social and historical detail or looked closely at where Lee really came from: the people, places and period.

This is the first time someone has described the Lee Child arc: from peaceful obscurity in the Yorkshire Dales and Upstate New York to cult figure, no. 1 in America, rock star, celebrity and publishing institution through to backlash, the changing zeitgeist, and intimations of retirement. The analysis of the emotional power and significance of Lee’s work in the final chapters—the themes of happiness, addiction, dependency, loneliness, and existential absurdity—and the first-hand retrospective accounts of his life and second-act career are all exclusive to this definitive biography.

Editorial Reviews

The Times - Dominic Maxwell

[B]limey, future biographers will be hard pushed to outdo Martin for details.

The Irish Times - Paraic O'Donnell

"[Martin] is a skilled and audacious interlocutor... but her subject is just as adept an interviewee... The superhuman Reacher may be loved by millions, but it's the Reacher Guy who has the edge: he knows what [it] is to be human."

The Telegraph - Michael Deacon

The Reacher Guy is a must-buy for any aspiring novelist, thanks in particular to its terrific insight into how Child’s first book was written..."


"Martin touches on the dark poetry that runs at the base of these violent thrillers."

The Sydney Morning Herald - Fiona Capp

"This superbly crafted biography of Lee Child... is a homage to the bestselling thriller writer even as it casts a wry eye over the man and his tough guy hero Jack Reacher."

(Praise for Lee Child) - George RR Martin

Lee Child ought to be illegal.

A couple of years ago, I was supposed to receive an award from him at a banquet. I had never read any of this books, so thought I had better check one out before I met him. I picked up a Jack Reacher book, entirely at random, and figured I'd try a few pages. Next thing I knew I'd read it all. "Hey, that was really good," I thought. "I'll try another." I did. And then another, and another, and another, and... well, you get the idea. There are an awful lot of Jack Reacher books, and now it seems I have read them all, and cannot wait for Lee to write a new one.

His books are utterly addictive. You can't stop reading them. Or at least I can't.

Surely that should be a crime.

The Best Crime and Mystery Criticism of 2020 CrimeReads

"By the end of reading this one [The Reacher Guy], you just might find yourself liking Jim Grant even more than his novels."

Kirkus Reviews

A life-spanning biography of bestselling novelist and critics' favorite Lee Child.

Born James Grant in Coventry, England, in 1954, Child felt “so unloved as a child” that he devoured books about orphans. As an unsettled teen, he broke a rival kid's arm and played in a rock band. He worked in theater and studied law before settling in at Granada Television in the late 1970s, where he enjoyed success as a presentation director. Partly owing to his stance as a union organizer, he was fired after 18 years, becoming a writer "because he couldn't think of anything else to do." After turning out more than 20 thrillers featuring the hulking, Zen-like, all-American problem solver Jack Reacher, Child announced he would be turning over the series to his younger brother, mystery writer Andrew Grant, with whom he co-wrote the forthcoming Reacher book, The Sentinel. In her first biography, based on personal correspondence with Child, Martin offers a variety of intriguing stories about her subject. However, the narrative is so crowded with extraneous material (the author profiles seemingly anyone who ever knew Child) and so prone to redundancies and head-scratching allusions—e.g., the lasting impact of tennis great Chris Evert's "glow"—the reading experience becomes a chore. The publisher says that Martin had "disarmingly frank" conversations with her subject, whom she calls "Lee" or "Jim" throughout, but he is only superficially revealing, leaving her to hold up excerpts from his novels as mirrors to his soul. As for Child's exceptional style as a novelist, the fawning Martin offers little critical analysis beyond comparing him to Camus and Borges. "He feels, as much as thinks, his books into being," she writes, while noting his obsession with figuring out the right “ratio” among “overall number of pages, number of lines per page and number of characters per line.”

An exhaustive and exhausting account for only the most committed fans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643135861
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 09/29/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 369,671
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

Customer Reviews