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.
Heather Martin grew up in Aix-en-Provence, Paris, and Perth, Australia, where she would fall asleep to the sound of the Indian Ocean. She read Languages at Cambridge, where she also did a PhD in comparative literature, and has held teaching and research positions at Cambridge, Hull, King's College London, and most recently, the Graduate Center, City University New York. Heather is a long-time Reacher fan. While waiting to get her hands on the next in the series, she once read a Lee Child book in Spanish and wound up writing to the author about the fate of his character in translation. The Reacher Guy is her first biography. She is based in London but visits America regularly.
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.
– George RR Martin, (Praise for Lee Child)
"By the end of reading this one [The Reacher Guy], you just might find yourself liking Jim Grant even more than his novels."
– CrimeReads, The Best Crime and Mystery Criticism of 2020
"[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."
– Paraic O'Donnell, The Irish Times
“[B]limey, future biographers will be hard pushed to outdo Martin for details.”
– Dominic Maxwell, The Times
“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…"
– Michael Deacon, The Telegraph
"Martin touches on the dark poetry that runs at the base of these violent thrillers."
"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."