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Lee Child

Lee Child
Lee Child at Bouchercon XLI, 2010
Born Jim Grant
(1954-10-29) 29 October 1954
Coventry, England, UK
Occupation Novelist, writer, author
Nationality British
Period 1985–present
Genre Crime fiction, mystery, thriller
Notable works Jack Reacher series of novels

Lee Child's voice
Recorded December 2013 from the BBC Radio 4 programme Bookclub


Jim Grant (born 29 October 1954), better known by his pen name Lee Child, is a British thriller writer.[1] His first novel, Killing Floor, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

Each of Child's novels follows the adventures of a former American military policeman, Jack Reacher, who wanders the United States.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Television production career 2.1
    • Writing career 2.2
    • Writing style 2.3
  • Philanthropy 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Novels and awards 5
    • Other awards 5.1
  • Short stories 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Jim Grant was born in Coventry, England.[2] His father was a civil servant[3] and his younger brother, Andrew Grant, is also a thriller novelist. Grant's parents moved him and his three brothers to Handsworth Wood in Birmingham when he was four years old, so that the boys could get a better education.[4] Grant attended Cherry Orchard Primary School in Handsworth Wood until the age of 11. He attended King Edward's School, Birmingham.[5]

In 1974, at age 20, Grant studied law at University of Sheffield, though he had no intention of entering the legal profession and, during his student days, worked backstage in a theatre.[3] After graduating, he worked in commercial television.[6]


Television production career

Grant at Bouchercon XL, 2009

Grant joined Granada Television, part of the UK's ITV Network, in Manchester as a presentation director.[7] There he was involved with shows including Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. Grant was involved in the transmission of more than 40,000 hours of programming for Granada, writing thousands of commercials and news stories.[8] He worked at Granada from 1977 to 1995[3] and ended his career there with two years as a trade union shop steward.[9]

Writing career

After being made redundant from his job due to corporate restructuring,[7] Grant decided to start writing novels, stating they are "the purest form of entertainment."[10] In 1997, his first novel, Killing Floor, was published, and he moved to the United States in the summer of 1998.[11]

His pen name "Lee" comes from a family joke about mispronunciation of the name of Renault's Le Car, with "Child" indicating where Grant would place his work on bookstore shelves, i.e., between crime fiction stars Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.[7]

Grant has said that he chose the name Reacher for the central character in his novels because he himself is tall and, in a supermarket (Asda in Kendal, Cumbria, when he was living in Kirkby Lonsdale), his wife Jane told him: "'Hey, if this writing thing doesn't pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket.' ... 'I thought, Reacher — good name.'"[3] Some books in the Reacher series are written in first person, while others are written in the third person. Grant has characterised the books as revenge stories – "Somebody does a very bad thing, and Reacher takes revenge" – driven by his anger at the downsizing at Granada. Although English, he deliberately chose to write American-style thrillers.[7]

In 2007, Grant collaborated with 14 other writers to create the 17-part serial thriller The Chopin Manuscript, narrated by Alfred Molina. This was broadcast weekly on between 25 September 2007 and 13 November 2007.

On 30 June 2008, it was announced that Grant would be taking up a Visiting Professorship at the University of Sheffield from November 2008. In 2009, Grant funded 52 Jack Reacher scholarships for students at the university.[12]

Grant was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America in 2009.[13]

In 2012, his novel One Shot was adapted into Jack Reacher; an American thriller film starring Tom Cruise. Grant has a cameo appearance as a police desk sergeant in the film.

Writing style

Grant's prose has been described as "hardboiled" and "commercial" in style. A 2012 interview suggested that many aspects of the Jack Reacher novels were deliberately aimed at maintaining the books' profitability, rather than for literary reasons. For instance, making Jack Reacher have one parent who was French was suggested as being partly because the presence of only American members of Reacher's family would limit the series' appeal in France. The same interview stated that Grant "didn't apologise about the commercial nature" of his fiction.[14]


In January 2012, Grant donated £10,000 [about US$16,000] towards a new vehicle for Brecon Mountain Rescue Team in Wales. He offered the donation because his brother is a senior member of the team. The team's former control vehicle was written off after a collision in 2011.[15]

Personal life

Grant's wife Jane[3] is from New York.[11]

Grant is a fan of Aston Villa Football Club[16] and has been known to include the names of Aston Villa players in his books.[17]

In 2013, the Daily Mail quoted him saying that he writes while high on marijuana, and that he has smoked cannabis five nights a week for 44 years.[18] However, in a phone interview in November of 2013, he clarified his comments to the Irish Examiner, saying he's never written while high. "Yeah, that's true," Child told The Post-Standard. "I mean, people say to me, 'There was that story in the newspaper,' and I say, "No, that's The Daily Mail.' In Britain, that's not a newspaper, you know, that's a scandal sheet where they make stuff up. It's not very reliable. And certainly I don't deny smoking the occasional joint, but I don't work when I'm stoned because you don't get much done that way." [19]

Novels and awards

Publication order Title Year ISBN Voice Awards/Nominations
1 Killing Floor 1997 ISBN 0-593-04143-7 1st Person Anthony Award winner Barry Award winner Dilys Award nominee Macavity Award nominee Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize winner
2 Die Trying 1998 ISBN 0-593-04144-5 3rd Person WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award winner
3 Tripwire 1999 ISBN 0-593-04393-6 3rd Person
4 The Visitor (known as Running Blind in the US) 2000 ISBN 0-593-04399-5 3rd Person
5 Echo Burning 2001 ISBN 0-593-04659-5 3rd Person
6 Without Fail 2002 ISBN 0-593-04686-2 3rd Person Dilys Award nominee Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee
7 Persuader 2003 ISBN 0-593-04689-7 1st Person Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee
8 The Enemy 2004 ISBN 0-593-05182-3 1st Person Barry Award winner Dilys Award nominee Nero Award winner
9 One Shot 2005 ISBN 0-593-05183-1 3rd Person Macavity Award nominee
10 The Hard Way 2006 ISBN 978-0-593-05184-9 3rd Person
11 Bad Luck and Trouble 2007 ISBN 978-0-593-05701-8 3rd Person Shortlisted for Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2009[20]
12 Nothing To Lose 2008 ISBN 978-0-593-05702-5 3rd Person
13 Gone Tomorrow 2009 ISBN 978-0-593-05705-6 1st Person
14 61 Hours 2010 ISBN 978-0-593-05706-3 3rd Person Winner, Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2011
15 Worth Dying For 2010 ISBN 978-0-593-06566-2 3rd Person
16 The Affair 2011 ISBN 978-0-593-06570-9 1st Person
17 A Wanted Man 2012 ISBN 978-0-593-06573-0 3rd Person Specsavers' National Book Award, Thriller & Crime Novel of the Year[21]
18 Never Go Back 2013 ISBN 978-0-593-06574-7 3rd Person
19 Personal 2014 ISBN 978-0-593-07382-7 1st Person RBA International Prize for Crime Writing valued at €125,000[22]
20 Make Me[23] 2015 ISBN 978-0-593-07388-9 3rd Person

Note: For consistency, ISBN shows Bantam (UK) hardcover, first printings only.

Other awards

Short stories

Child receiving a Barry Award in 2005 for The Enemy.
  • "James Penney's New Identity" from Fresh Blood 3 (edited by Mike Ripley and Maxim Jakubowski) and from Thriller (US)
  • "The Snake Eater by the Numbers" from Like a Charm (edited by Karin Slaughter)
  • "Ten Keys" from The Cocaine Chronicles (edited by Jervey Tervalon and Gary Phillips)
  • "The Greatest Trick of All" from Greatest Hits (edited by Robert J Randisi)
  • "Guy Walks into a Bar..." A prequel to Gone Tomorrow published in The New York Times[25]
  • "Me & Mr. Rafferty" from The Dark End of the Street (edited by Jonathan Santlofer and S. J. Rozan)
  • "The Bodyguard" from First Thrills (edited by Lee Child)
  • "Second Son" (Electronic short story about Jack Reacher)
  • "Addicted to Sweetness" from The Rich and the Dead (edited by Nelson DeMille)
  • "Everyone Talks" (Reacher short story published in the June/July 2012 US edition of Esquire Magazine)
  • "Deep Down" (Electronic short story about Jack Reacher, published 16 June 2012)
  • "High Heat" (Electronic short story about Jack Reacher, published 6 August 2013)
  • "Good and Valuable Consideration" from Face Off (edited by David Baldacci)
  • "Not a Drill" (Electronic short story about Jack Reacher, Published 29 July 2014)
  • "Small Wars" (Electronic short story about Jack Reacher, 18 August 2015)


  1. ^ David Smith (22 June 2008). "Sacked at 40 and on the scrapheap. Now Brummie tops US book charts". London: Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  2. ^ Glass, Ben (2 December 2008). "If you don't know Lee Child, you don't know Jack". It's All About Coventry. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Interview in January Magazine, May 2003". Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  4. ^ Bob Cornwell. "A Reacher Moment...or Two". Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  5. ^ David Smith (22 June 2008). "Sacked at 40 and on the Scrapheap: Now Brummie tops US Book Charts". London: Retrieved 22 June 2008. 
  6. ^ Claire White (1 August 2001). "A Conversation with Lee Child". Writers Write. 
  7. ^ a b c d Curtis, Bryan (20 December 2012). "The Curious Case of Lee Child: Before Tom Cruise could become Jack Reacher, Jim Grant had to become Lee Child". Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Lee Child". BookBrowse. 1 May 2004. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Tangled web Books, 2005". Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  10. ^ Readers Digest. "Select Editions". Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  11. ^ a b "Interview in Writers' Write Journal, August 2001". Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  12. ^ Alison Flood, Students offered scholarships from fictional crimefighter, Jack Reacher, Guardian
  13. ^ "People and Publishing: Milestones", Locus, April 2009, p.8
  14. ^ Maher, Kevin (25 August 2012). "Lee Child on creating Jack Reacher". The Times. 
  15. ^ "Author Lee Child's £10k to Brecon Mountain Rescue Team". BBC News. 24 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Exclusive interview with ace author Child in matchday programme". Aston Villa Football Club. 15 September 2011.
  17. ^ Interview with Simon Mayo on Radio 2 on 1st September 2014.
  18. ^ I've smoked cannabis five nights a week for 44 years and my dealer's on speed dial': Shock confession by bestselling thriller writer Lee Child"'". 17 August 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Jack Reacher' author Lee Child talks Tom Cruise and marijuana before Syracuse lecture"'". 15 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston's Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009. 
  21. ^ Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards".  
  22. ^ "British author Lee Child receives the "prestigious" RBA Award for Crime Writing". Catalan News Agency. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  23. ^ "Jack Reacher Book #20". United States: 26 November 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Alison Flood (12 February 2013). "Lee Child gets away with major crime writing award". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  25. ^ Child, Lee (6 June 2009). "Guy Walks Into a Bar... ". The New York Times.

External links

  • Lee Child's & Jack Reacher's Official Web Site, featuring Lee Child's blog, forum, bibliography and excerpts
  • Reacher Creatures Fan Site
  • Lee Child's books from U.S. Publisher Bantam Dell
  • Lee Child at the Internet Book List
  • Macavity Awards Site
  • Podcast interview with Lee Child
  • Daily Telegraph, 1 April 2007
  • Daily Telegraph, 14 July 2007
  • Times, 25 August 2012
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