Lee hands Reacher to his novelist brother
Writer name must be Andrew Child
- Published 19.01.20, 12:50 AM
- Updated 19.01.20, 12:50 AM
- 3 mins read
The thriller writer Lee Child has decided not to kill off or retire his hero Jack Reacher but hand him over for further adventures to his younger brother in what is being hailed as a literary first.
Lee Child, whose real name is James Grant, has made only one condition: this is that his brother, Andrew Grant, who also writes mystery novels, should adopt the name, Andrew Child.
Reacting to Lee’s announcement, the crime novelist Ian Rankin said: “Not much surprises me these days but this news did — front page of today’s Times.”
Lee told the paper that he had thought of ways to kill off Reacher — “a bruising 6ft 5in vigilante hero who roams the United States seeking odd jobs, after leaving the army as a major in the military police at the age of 36”.
“First of all I thought he would go out in a blaze of bullets, something like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It would take an army to bring him down.”
However, he eventually decided killing him off or retiring him would do his fans a disservice. He said: “Reacher had to have an afterlife after I was done.”
He added: “It feels like a natural development. My brother is a good writer… Now he has a hero.”
The first rebooted Reacher novel, titled The Sentinel, will be released in October. Although it will be written by 51-year-old Andrew, the cover will read: “Lee Child with Andrew Child.”
Andrew, an established novelist in his own right who has written three thriller series and a standalone novel, Run, said: “I knew the character from the very first sentence. Reacher is thoughtful and analytic but also driven by a strong moral sense.
“I’m a Reacher fan so I understand what (the fans) need...we don’t want them to say ‘this is completely different’. They must see the kind of book they’ve loved for the last 24 years.
“It will be the same but different. So many people love Reacher and want more Reacher. But Lee knew he couldn’t keep on providing Reacher for ever.”
Although Stephen King has done collaborations with his son Joe Hill, this is thought to be the first instance in which authorship has transferred between brothers.
But if Lee is hoping for an easy retirement, he will have to think again. This year he is serving as chairman of the Booker prize jury and will also work as an executive producer on a new Reacher television series produced by Amazon.
Of the forthcoming series, Lee said: “We’re looking for the biggest guy we can find.”
He insisted that fans would not be left short-changed by the authorship swap. “Readers don’t need to know about me or whoever writes the books. They only really care about Reacher. And I know he’s now in safe hands.”
Having sold almost 200 million books in 78 countries since his debut novel, Killing Floor, in 1997 — Reacher has a big fan following in India — Lee is estimated to be worth around £40 million. The creative process behind the Reacher novels reportedly involved a pack of Camel cigarettes and up to 20 cups of coffee a day.
Although Andrew has given up smoking, he claims to drink even more coffee than his brother.
Since 1997, there have been 24 Reacher novels and more than a dozen short stories.
There are other authors who have become tired of their creations. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously killed off Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem, when the great detective plunged into the swirling waters of Reichenbach Falls grappling with Prof. James Moriarty.
One author Lee Child inspired is Abir Mukherjee, a Bengali accountant in London whose life was changed when he watched a TV interview given by the creator of the Jack Reacher novels.
Abir was impressed that Lee’s books were “very simply written but with a very, very good plot — a style I felt I could write”.
Abir decided to “have a go” and began writing his tale in September, 2013, picking crime as his genre. A Rising Man, set in Calcutta in 1919, was published in 2016. He recently published his fourth novel, Death in the East, in the series.