In the final pages of The Reacher Guy, Heather Martin’s expansive biography of Lee Child, she includes a ‘final rumination’ from the mega author, in his words a ‘kind of epitaph’:

People ask, am I happy now I have retired? The truth is, I retired because now I’m happy. The times I grew up in, and the place, and my family, all left me with an implacable horror of being mediocre. Finally, after all these years, I have grown to accept I escaped that fate.’

And that fear of mediocrity is what seemingly drives the man we meet in this long, authorised biography.

In many ways it’s a story of true grit. Of Jim Grant, born in Coventry, England, and initially famous for being ‘tall’, who reinvented himself, after being made redundant by Granada Television, after it restructured, to become the best-selling writer and global phenomenon Lee Child.

And Child’s career is truly impressive: some 100 million sales under his belt, translations of his books into more than forty languages, his ‘Jack’ portrayed on the big screen by Tom Cruise, no less, and now, in the forthcoming Amazon series, by Alan Ritchson. It’s not a rags-to-riches story, but it certainly has elements of it.

Based on extensive research, including copious interviews with the author himself – and pretty much anyone in Child’s sphere, it seems – The Reacher Guy draws obvious parallels between Lee Child and his other creation, Jack Reacher.

It’s a tad unwieldy at times, as there’s so much information, so many stories, so many interviews, but it’s a fine summation of the perseverance that got Child to where he is today. And if you’re a Lee Child fan – and it would be difficult to find someone who hasn’t enjoyed a Jack Reacher novel at some point – this is definitely the book for you. You’d be hard pushed to get more information on the minutiae of Child’s remarkable life anywhere else and it is entertaining.

So, perfectly timed for Thanksgiving and Christmas, The Reacher Guy is that ultimate gift for the book lover in your life. Or for you.

The Reacher Guy: the authorised biography of Lee Child | Heather Martin | September 2020 | Constable | hardback | £20.00

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Acknowledgements: Quoted text from The Reacher Guy © Heather Martin 2020, unless the text copyright is held by Lee Child. This review is published as part of the virtual book tour organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours, to whom we offer great thanks as always, and to the publisher for sending us a review copy. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other wonderful reviewers on this tour and please share them. And finally, and not least, a very happy birthday to Lee Child.

Also of interest:Alice Walker and the power of poetry‘; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Sylvia Plath on poetry‘; ‘WB Yeats, “The Journey of the Magi“‘; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is copyright © 2021 by The Literary Shed. All rights are reserved. All opinions expressed are our own. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please contact us for permission and provide the necessary credit. Thank you so much. We welcome your feedback.

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