A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher Series #17)

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher Series #17)

by Lee Child

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes Lee Child’s short story “Not a Drill”

“The indomitable Reacher burns up the pages.”—USA Today

Four people in a car, hoping to make Chicago by morning. One man driving, another telling stories that don’t add up. A woman in the back, silent and worried. And a hitchhiker with a broken nose. An hour behind them, the FBI descends on an old pumping station where a man was stabbed to death—the knife work professional, the killers nowhere to be seen.
All Jack Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy, in which nothing is what it seems, and nobody is telling the truth.
“Furious action . . . [Lee] Child keeps the pacing swift and the surprises rolling. . . . [A] feverishly thrilling series.”—The Miami Herald
“Smart, breathless . . . [with] one of the best female characters in the whole Reacher series.”—The New York Times
“Subtle and nuanced [with] seductive writing and irresistible plot twists.”—Newsweek

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440339366
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/11/2012
Series: Jack Reacher Series
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 835
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Lee Child is the author of nineteen New York Times bestselling Jack Reacher thrillers, ten of which have reached the #1 position. All have been optioned for major motion pictures; the first, Jack Reacher, was based on One Shot. Foreign rights in the Reacher series have sold in almost a hundred territories. A native of England and a former television director, Lee Child lives in New York City.


Birmingham, England

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Coventry, England


Sheffield University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The eyewitness said he didn’t actually see it happen. But how else could it have gone down? Not long after midnight a man in a green winter coat had gone into a small concrete bunker through its only door. Two men in black suits had followed him in. There had been a short pause. The two men in the black suits had come out again.

The man in the green winter coat had not come out again.

The two men in the black suits had walked thirty brisk feet and climbed into a bright red car. Fire-engine red, the eyewitness called it. Vivid red. Fairly new. A regular four-door sedan, the eyewitness thought. Or maybe a five-door. Or a three-door. But definitely not a two-door coupe. A Toyota, the eyewitness thought. Or maybe a Honda. Or a Hyundai. Maybe a Kia.

But whichever, the two men in the black suits had driven away in it.

There was still no sign of the man in the green winter coat.

Then blood had pooled out from under the concrete bunker’s door.

The eyewitness had called 911.

The county sheriff had shown up and gotten the story. He was good at hustling folk along while looking patient. It was one of his many talents. Eventually the eyewitness had finished up. Then the county sheriff had thought for a long moment. He was in a part of the nation where in every direction there were hundreds of square miles of emptiness just over the dark horizon. Where roads were long lonely ribbons.

He was in roadblock country.

So he had called the highway patrol, and then he had ordered up the helicopter from the state capital. He had put out an urgent APB on a bright red import carrying two men in black suits.

Jack Reacher rode for ninety miles and ninety minutes with a woman in a dirty gray van, and then he saw bright vapor lights up ahead at the highway cloverleaf, with big green signs pointing west and east. The woman slowed the van, and stopped, and Reacher got out and thanked her and waved her away. She used the first ramp, west toward Denver and Salt Lake City, and he walked under the bridge and set up on the eastbound ramp, one foot on the shoulder and one in the traffic lane, and he stuck out his thumb and smiled and tried to look friendly.

Which was not easy. Reacher was a big man, six feet five inches tall, heavily built, and that night as always he looked a little ragged and unkempt. Lonely drivers wanted pleasant and unthreatening company, and Reacher knew from long experience that visually he was no one’s first choice of companion. Too intimidating. And right then he was further handicapped by a freshly broken nose. He had patched the injury with a length of silver duct tape, which he knew must make him look even more grotesque. He knew the tape must be shining and glittering in the yellow light. But he felt the tape was helping him medically, so he decided to keep it in place for the first hour. If he didn’t get a ride inside sixty minutes, he would consider peeling it off.

He didn’t get a ride inside sixty minutes. Traffic was light. Nebraska, at night, in the wintertime. The cloverleaf he was at was the only significant interchange for miles around, but even so whole minutes passed with no action at all. Up on the bridge the through traffic was fairly steady, but few people seemed keen to join it. In the first hour only forty vehicles showed up to turn east. Cars, trucks, SUVs, different makes, different models, different colors. Thirty of them blew past without even slowing. Ten drivers checked him out and then looked away and accelerated onward.

Not unusual. Hitchhiking had been getting harder for years.

Time to shorten the odds.

He turned away and used a splintered thumbnail to pick at the edge of the duct tape on his face. He got half an inch of it loose and gripped that makeshift tab between the pad of his thumb and his forefinger. Two schools of thought. One went for the fast rip. The other advocated a slow peel. An illusory choice, Reacher thought. The pain was the same either way. So he split the difference and opted for a fast peel. No big deal on his cheek. A different story across his nose. Cuts reopened, the swelling lifted and moved, the fracture itself clicked and ground.

No big deal on the other cheek.

He rolled the bloodied tape into a cylinder and stuck it in his pocket. He spat on his fingers and wiped his face. He heard a helicopter a thousand feet overhead and saw a high-power searchlight beam stabbing down through the darkness, resting here, resting there, moving on. He turned back and put one foot in the traffic lane again and stuck out his thumb. The helicopter hung around for a spell and then lost interest and hammered away west until its noise died back to nothing. Traffic heading cross-country on the bridge stayed sparse but steady. Feeder traffic heading north and south on the county road got thinner. But almost all of it turned one way or the other on the highway. Almost none of it continued straight. Reacher remained optimistic.

The night was cold, which helped his face. Numbness dulled the ache. A pick-up truck with Kansas plates came out of the south and turned east and slowed to a roll. The driver was a rangy black guy bundled into a thick coat. Maybe his heater wasn’t working. He eyeballed Reacher long and hard. He almost stopped. But he didn’t. He looked away and drove on by.

Reacher had money in his pocket. If he could get to Lincoln or Omaha he could get a bus. But he couldn’t get to Lincoln or Omaha. Not without a ride. He took to tucking his right hand under his left arm between cars, to stop it from freezing. He stamped his feet. His breath pooled around his head like a cloud. A highway patrol cruiser blew by with lights but no siren. Two cops inside. They didn’t even glance Reacher’s way. Their focus was up ahead. Some kind of an incident, maybe.

Two more cars almost stopped. One out of the south, and one out of the north, minutes apart. They both slowed, stumbled, stuttered, eyeballed, and then picked up speed and drove on by. Getting closer, Reacher thought. It’s coming. Maybe the late hour was helping. People were more compassionate at midnight than midday. And night driving already felt a little out of the ordinary. Picking up a random stranger wasn’t such a big leap.

He hoped.

Another driver took a good long look, but kept on going.

And another.

Reacher spat on his palms and slicked his hair into place.

He kept the smile on his face.

He remained optimistic.

And then finally, after a total of ninety-three minutes on the ramp, a car stopped for him.

Chapter 2

The car stopped thirty feet upstream of him. It had a local plate, and was a reasonable size, and American, and dark in color. A Chevrolet, Reacher thought, probably dark blue, or gray, or black. It was hard to tell, in the vapor light. Dark metallics were always anonymous at night.

There were three people in the car. Two men in the front, and a woman in the back. The two men were twisted around in their seats, like there was a big three-way discussion going on. Like a democracy. Should we pick this guy up or not? Which suggested to Reacher that the three people didn’t know each other very well. Such decisions among good friends were usually instinctive. These three were business colleagues, maybe, a team of equals, thrown together for the duration, exaggeratedly respectful of each other’s positions, especially the outnumbered woman’s.

Reacher saw the woman nod, and he lip-read her yes, and the men turned back and faced front again, and the car rolled forward. It stopped again with the front passenger’s window alongside Reacher’s hip. The glass came down. Reacher bent at the waist and felt warmth on his face. This car’s heater was working just fine. That was for damn sure.

The guy in the front passenger seat asked, “Where are you headed tonight, sir?”

Reacher had been a cop in the army for thirteen years, and then for almost as long had lived on his wits, and he had survived both phases of his life by being appropriately cautious and by staying alert. All five senses, all the time. Deciding whether or not to take an offered ride depended mostly on smell. Could he smell beer? Weed? Bourbon? But right then he could smell nothing at all. His nose had just been broken. His nasal passages were clogged with blood and swellings. Maybe his septum was permanently deviated. It felt entirely possible he would never smell anything ever again.

Touch was not an option in that situation, either. Nor was taste. He would learn nothing by groping around like a blind man, or by licking things. Which left sight and sound. He heard neutral tones from the front passenger, no marked regional accent, an educated cadence, an air of authority and executive experience. On all three of them he saw soft uncalloused hands, unmuscled frames, neat hair, no tans. Indoor people. Office folk. Not at the top of the tree, but a long way from the bottom. They each looked somewhere in their middle forties, perhaps halfway through their lives, but more than halfway through their careers. Like lieutenant colonels, maybe, in army terms. Solid achievers, but not superstars.

Each of them had on black pants and a blue denim shirt. Like uniforms. The shirts looked cheap and new, still creased from the wrapper. A team-building exercise, Reacher figured. Some kind of corporate bullshit. Fly a bunch of middle-ranking executives out from their regional offices, get them together in the wilderness, give them shirts, set them tasks. Maybe all the hoo-hah was making them feel a little bit adventurous, which was why they were picking him up. And maybe there would be candid mutual critiquing afterward, which was why they had labored through the big three-way democratic discussion. Teams needed teamwork, and teamwork needed consensus, and consensus needed to be unforced, and gender issues were always sensitive. In fact Reacher was a little surprised the woman wasn’t riding in front, or driving. Although driving might have been seen as a subservient role, for the only woman in a trio. Like fetching coffee.

A minefield.

“I’m heading east,” Reacher said.

“Into Iowa?” the front passenger asked.

“Through Iowa,” Reacher said. “All the way to Virginia.”

“Hop in,” the guy said. “We’ll get you some of the way there.”

The woman was sitting behind the front passenger, so Reacher tracked around the trunk and got in on the driver’s side. He settled on the rear bench and closed the door. The woman nodded to him a little shyly. A little cautiously, maybe. Perhaps because of his busted nose. Maybe the sight upset her.

The guy at the wheel checked his mirror and took off up the ramp.

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A Wanted Man: A Jack Reacher Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 531 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good jack reacher book. I would recommend to all fans of jack reacher. But i have a question. Why is tom cruise playing jack in movies? Tom cruise is not 6' 5" tall nor does he weigh 250. He does not gave dirty blonde hair, hands the size of dinner plates or ice blue eyes and he certainly doesnt look rugged. I dont thinj i can go see this movie. It would ruin my picture of jack reacher. Watch movie trailer nice well groomed cruise as jack? Doesnt work for me
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
The action in this newest in the Jack Reacher series begins with a body discovered in what is apparently an abandoned pumping station in rural Nebraska, an eyewitness able to give only scant details of the two men he saw with the victim, and who drove away in a bright red car afterwards. Very shortly thereafter, in addition to the local police, representatives of several governmental agencies designated by groups of letters such as CIA and FBI descend on the area. An alert is quickly put in place on all highways along the area interstates for the two men. Jack Reacher is variously described here as ex-military, specifically a former major in the Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police, now unemployed and essentially homeless, self-described, most pertinently here, as “just a guy, hitching rides.” On the same mid-winter night, he has been standing at the side of an on-ramp for over an hour when he is given a ride in a car with two men and a woman inside, his ultimate destination being Virginia. That destination and his present appearance, the main feature of which is a badly broken nose, are the aftermath of events at the end of the last book in the series; an imposing figure overall, the broken nose is probably the main reason why it took so long for him to be offered a ride. Initially the points of view alternate between Reacher and Julia Sorenson, the FBI Special Agent first called to the crime scene, a very capable 25-year Bureau veteran out of the Omaha field office. Eventually their paths cross, and they work together to get to the bottom of what turns out to be anything but your average murder. The book is everything one can expect in a Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel, including terrific plotting and characterizations, and especially Reacher himself, who, when asked by one of the men in the car that picked him up, “You don’t like to be pushed around, do you, Mr. Reacher?” responds “I don’t know. I’ve never been pushed around. If it ever happens, you’ll be the first to find out whether I like it or not.” He demonstrates once again his vast knowledge of relatively arcane trivia, such as the population and area codes of almost any spot in the United States. It’s great to have him back, and the novel, one I swiftly devoured, is highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a die hard Reacher fan, I was disappointed with this book. More of an intellectual Reacher book with minimal signature Reacher violence. Low impact until the last few chapters. Somewhat anti-climatic. My least favorite Reacher book to date. Not sure what's more baffling: this mundane release or Tom Cruise (5'7") as the big screen version of Jack Reacher (6'5").
Riverman1 More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Reacher series books (big fan of the Big Man) and this is the most disappointing. The "plot twists" and "revelations" are cumbersome and convoluted rather than illuminating and detract from the narrative, especially in the book's final 100 pages Multiple sets of FBI agents working incognito from one another and at cross purposes, then add an undeveloped CIA component and characters who act illogically - I realize this is a fictional thriller, of course, , but folks should think and behave and react like "real" folks unless they are playing a psychotic role - this all adds up to a thrown-together recipe for a not quite palatable dish of a book. . it's almost as if Child lost his way and said, what the hey, Reacher can shoot twenty or so bad guys at the end, walk (or thumb) away and this will be wrapped up. After all of the anticipation awaiting another Reacher, I'm sorry to say that I'm sorry I bought this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a reacher fan from day one ,l was very disappointed with this book. Hope next one gets back on tract..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
seriously disappointing entry in what was, until now, a fantastic series...and full of digital errors, making it a chore to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow-Wow - Where to begin. Let me start by saying I have been a real fan of Lee Child and the character Jack Reacher. What has happened in this book in particular is that the book has over 360 pages and 299 pages of filler! I'm not sure Lee wrote this book or some high school teacher want a be. Lee has now done what other authors have done to their "hero character", and that is age them when there is no reason to. Vince Flynn with Mitch Rap, Harlan Coben with Myron and Win, Michael Connelly with Harry Bosch. There are dozens of authors who have turned their "super hero" into a old and uninteresting character for no good reason. Robert B. Parker is one author who allowed Spenser to never age through time. So I recommend skipping this book and have Lee Child find a new character as good or better than Reacher!
TrainreaderJR More than 1 year ago
Read every book and was very disappointed. Drove left, drove right, saw a farm, drove some more... First 300 pages were very short on action, the only death was the plot. The "Battle Scene" was confusing and I found it hard to envision (one dot, two dot, think I'll fire another shot). On par with the book where Reacher punched a midget for the action highlight. Lee Child phoned it in, save your money...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lee Child has gotten a bit lazy (e.g, the novella about the young Reacher, which has nothing to do with youth) and apparently greedy; I can't understand why he didnt buy back the movie rights instead of letting Tom Cruise' massive ego derail what should be the next Bond franchise. Compare Ray Stevenson to Tom Thumb Cruise, then hope that Nicole Kidman got the sequel options in the divorce. Its like casting PeeWee Herman as Batman .... but not nearly as funny.
Jack1822 More than 1 year ago
By far the poorest of the series. I struggled to get to the end. Wish I didn't waste my time and money on this dud. Hopefully as an avid lee child reader I an hoping this is not the beginning of the end!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Jack Reacher and have read the entire series with the exception of this one. I have been so hopeful that the books would be made into a movie and was thrilled when I found out they were....UNTIL.....I found out that Tom Cruise would be playing Reacher. What a terrible choice! He does not fit the physical description at all and he does not fit the demeanor of Jack Reacher. I have always pictured a " Trace Adkins" like person as Reacher! (Yes, I know he is not an actor, but physically he fits Reacher to a tee!) As several have posted, I will most likely not go see the movies. Tom Cruise would completely ruin my perception of Reacher. Whoever chose him obviously has not paid attention to Reacher's description found in every single one of the books. Unfortunate!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bummer of a Reacher book. Looked forward to it but there wasn't much story here. And yes, we agree why is Tom Cruise playing Reacher? Hugh Jackman would have been perfect!!
Colin-Craib More than 1 year ago
I see a lot of reviewers complaining that A Wanted Man is slow, boring, and every other adjective possible that would fit under those headings. This is fiction, and any true Reacher fan will be able to appreciate most of this book for the great piece of fiction that it is. The truth is that the latest Reacher book is actually just a continuation of previous ones. Both in terms of plot and writing style. Lee Child has realized that Reacher is aging, and it just isn’t realistic for him to be engaged in constant slug fests with the enemies. Even though he may be a physical freak, aging takes its toll on everyone. The bigger they are the harder they’ll fall, etc. Instead we get to see a side of Reacher explored that has always been overshadowed by his incredible fighting skills; his intelligence. Reacher has always been described as extremely street smart if nothing else, but in A Wanted Man we see it goes beyond that and we get an insight into the way his mind works. More so then in any of the previous books. Look, I understand that some people read these books for the machismo that they inspire and the fact that Reacher is plain and simple a bad ass. But, Child has shown before that he likes to at least acknowledge that life realisms such as aging exists and to expect him to continue on as if Reacher was 29 30 is unrealistic. The fact that it has taken this long for the process to become noticeable is stretching it as is. If you want some pure action, no thinking required book then go pick up any other book that vaguely resembles the Reacher series. Odds are that all realism will be thrown out the door and you can have your non-aging hero and we’ll all be happy. Now, this is not to say that the book is perfect. It isn’t by a long shot, but for a transition book it was pretty well done. Lee Child took a shot in the dark by drastically altering the style of his books, and one should give him credit where credit is due for pulling it off as well as he did. : Warning, Spoilers Ahead: The start of the book is one of the strongest points I think. It does a nice job of giving the reader enough information to allow them to start speculating and creating their own theories while not giving everything away from the get-go. We know that someone important has been killed but we’re unsure as to why they’re important and why they ended up in the middle of nowhere. We know that the people picking up Reacher are almost certainly going to be the ones that did the killing. We do not know why they would pick someone up like Reacher though since most fleeing criminals don’t really want to take hitchhikers with them. From there it becomes a game of trying to catch the murderers and we begin to learn more about all the players involved. We see the gears in Reacher’s head working as we have seen to one level or another before, but more so now. The reader has always been given the sense of his intelligence but this time it is really spelled out by all the small things that he takes into account and calculates in the small spans of time he is given. Nothing of particular note happens until Reacher is almost shot in the motel room. This is the first bit of foreshadowing that indicates not all is as it seems. From there the reader should begin to suspect that this is deeper than it would first appear, though with all Reacher books this should be a given. Time passes, and the kidnapping of Delfuenso’s child gets the wheels turning for the meat of the plot to begin. Why would the child of a dead woman be kidnapped? It seems painfully obvious that Delfuenso is still alive, and I was honestly rather disappointed by this because it was such an obvious plot turn that I thought maybe Child was beginning to go easy on his readers and cater to those action obsessed fans. Fortunately I was proved very wrong. Finding out that Mcqueen was a double agent wasn’t a big surprise but did explain a lot. Finding out that Delfuenso was a sleeper agent though was very surprising and really made me appreciate how unexpected and well-designed Child’s good plot turns can be. From this part out it was a typical Reacher book. Reacher finds out who-dun-it, goes and kills them, gets lost quickly… Except it wasn’t. The end of this book was actually the weakest part in my opinion, and was vaguely disappointing. The plot itself wasn’t bad, in fact it was kind of novel. You don’t hear of terrorist banker bad guys all that often. And, while it sounds implausible at first guess, it worked all right with this book. If that had been the weakest part then I would probably be giving this book 5/5. Tragically though, that was not the weak part of this book. Instead, the weakest part of this book was the action itself. It honestly seemed like something any generic action writer could write. It wasn’t horrible, but Reacher has long been known for suspense that leaves you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next move. There are countless times that I can remember unconsciously holding my breath while reading. Just imagining myself in Reacher’s shoes because of the vivid imagery and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nothing could have been further from the truth this time around. The death of Sorenson was abrupt and should have created a lot of empathy in the reader. The truth though was that it was rather easy to shrug off because there was not much attachment to her. Then Reacher just marched in and killed them easy as 1-2-3. It never really felt like he didn’t have a chance, even when his thoughts were indicating he didn’t think he had one. Then the end was just completely abrupt. It felt like Child didn’t know how to end this one, and it’s really too bad because he had been on fire up until the last 60 pages of it. Still, it was a solid book overall and a transition that I think was needed. My biggest problem though is that I’m still not sure how long Child can keep older Reacher going in a fun manner. I hope he will start writing more about his army days. This will allow him to put more action in it, though I certainly hope he will keep showing some insights like he does in this book. Overall I would say A Wanted Man is a solid 4/5.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first Reacher book that I thoroughly disliked I found the plot disjointed and implausible and Reacher omniscient - poor Agent Sorensen had to be enlighten by our hero on the most obvious fact. I was very disappointed with this book as I've read all the other book in the Reacher series as enjoyed them and was looking forward to his next adventure. Alas,it fizzled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was another good Jack Reacher story, but not the same ass-kicking Jack Reacher I have come to expect. When it came time to take care of business though, Reacher didn't disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too short and obvious marketing plot to squeak out more $$$. Also ridiculous casting of tom cruise as jack reacher. Lee child is not to be trusted for good story or movie anymore.
Quiversquest More than 1 year ago
This newest Jack Reacher novel was very entertaining. I liked how Child developed the other characters and drops clues here and there, although he had me guessing the plot right up to the end. Lots of good humor here, such as when people ask Reacher who he is and he answers, "Just a guy." Gave this novel to my neighbor to read and he loves it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guess Lee Child is too busy making a movie with the WRONG actor playing Jack Reacher to write a really good book. I love this series but A Wanted Man left me luke warm. Will still buy Child's books but am hoping he'll give it more energy next time. Maybe my feelings are colored by the fact that Tom Cruise is playing Reacher. So much of that character is about his physicality and Cruise just does not cut it. Cruise is very athletic, but I was looking forward to seeing a hugely imposing figure on the screen as the personification of Reacher. So sad . . .
renegadeTS More than 1 year ago
what can one say CHILD is a master! can not wait for the next tale!!! the movie however needs a better fitting actor...someone that fits Reacher size!!! Nuff said
Larryb52 More than 1 year ago
lame what happen to Child?, this and his last book are lame, plot is all over the place, I finally sat it down, don't waste your time unless your into over blown plots...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have also read every book in the Reacher series and this one is not in the top 5. The story line was a little slow and lacked the usual Reacher bravado. Also the mental imagery that Child tried to portray fell short. I could never get a good mental image of the bunkers layout. I still liked the book overall and can't wait for the next one to come out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one of his best
Spurs4life More than 1 year ago
I read everything Jack Reacher related including the shorts. This is another great addition to the series and I just can't get enough of Reacher and the way that he handles the situations that are put in front of him. I loved the way that A Wanted Man took off straight after the end of Worth Dying For. I love reading series books because I get invested in the characters and I can't wait for the next installment of Jack Reacher. Thank you Lee for another great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not his best but readable
Anonymous 22 days ago