Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin
Jack Reacher is only the second of Jim Grant’s great fictional characters: the first is Lee Child himself.
Heather Martin’s biography tells the story of all three.
Lee Child is the enigmatic powerhouse behind the bestselling Jack Reacher novels. With millions of devoted fans across the globe, and over a hundred million copies of his books sold in more than forty languages, he is that rarity: a writer who is lauded by critics and revered by readers. And yet curiously little has been written about the man himself.
The Reacher Guy is a compelling and authoritative portrait of the artist as a young man, refracted through the life of his fictional avatar, Jack Reacher. Through parallels drawn between Child and his literary creation, it tells the story of how a boy from Birmingham with a ferocious appetite for reading grew up to become a high-flying TV executive, before coming full circle and establishing himself as the strongest brand in publishing.
Heather Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America, and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession, shedding light on the opaque process of publishing a novel along the way. Drawing on her conversations and correspondence with Child over a number of years, as well as interviews with his friends, teachers and colleagues, she forensically pieces together his life, traversing back through generations to Northern Island and County Durham, and following the trajectory of his extraordinary career via New York and Hollywood until the climatic moment when, in 2020, having written a continuous series of twenty-four books, he finally breaks free of his fictional creation.
I love reading about writers. I find reading about their journey, their influences and what drives them so very fascinating. It’s especially interesting when the subject is one of the most successful authors today, an author whose books his army of readers simply cannot get enough of. So I was intrigued and excited to read this biography of Lee Child.
Now, dare I admit that I haven’t actually read any of the Jack Reacher books? I know, I know, how can I talk about this book when I haven’t even read any of the authors work? Well I can and I’ll tell you why. This biography is, as the blurb says, absolutely compelling. I have of course heard of Lee Child. I know many people who read and love his books and now, after reading this I can’t wait to dive into them myself. Oh and what a backlist of titles I have to look forward to. Now, THAT is the the wonderful thing about coming late to the party.
Heather Martin has opened up a whole new world for me. I have a lot of books on my wish list, the pile is infinite and yet I know that I just have to add Lee Child to it. What I’m trying to say is that it really doesn’t matter if you’re new to Child, a super fan, or anything in between. This biography Is just so fascinating, a real insight into a global phenomenon and the man behind it. As a reader, writer and Librarian it warms my heart to read how important his Library was to him from a young age. He was curious child, always questioning, always looking for stories. ‘…breathed in stories like he breathed in air.’
As well as informative and fascinating, Heather’s writing is beautiful. She puts the literary in biography. The words flow effortlessly and although over a whopping 500 pages, it never felt a slog to read. I also love the fact that it is authorised and you hear a great deal from Jim Grant too. I feel this is the real deal and it feels good to get to know this author and to see the ‘warts and all’ reality of being such an incredible publishing success.
In a nut shell I found this an amazing read and one that I would heartily recommend.
Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and the publisher for gifting me a review copy. It’s been a privilege.
About the author
Heather Martin was born in West Australia. She grew up in Aix-en-Provence, Paris, and Perth, where she would fall asleep to the sound of the Indian Ocean. She left Australia for England to become a classical guitarist but found herself singing with a Venezuelan folk group and learning to speak Spanish instead. 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.