Lee Child‘s bestselling Jack Reacher series features one of the best hard-edged heroes of the genre. If you like tough-guy anti-heroes and are looking for books like Jack Reacher, we’ve compiled a list of similar titles by authors who know how to deliver a one-two punch of pure adrenalin. Check out our recommendations for Lee Child fans below, complete with the publishers’ descriptions.
The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
“Hard, fast, and unflinching—exactly what a thriller should be.”—Lee Child
To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.
But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. Forces like money. And power. And there are men who hold these as the only currency worth fighting for. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness.
But Court Gentry is going to prove that, for him, there’s no gray area between killing for a living and killing to stay alive…
Alex Cross by James Patterson
Alex Cross was a rising star in the Washington, DC, Police Department when an unknown shooter gunned down his wife, Maria, in front of him. The killer was never found, and the case turned cold, filed among the unsolved drive-bys in D.C.’s rough neighborhoods.
Years later, still haunted by his wife’s death, Cross is making a bold move in his life. Now a free agent from the police and the FBI, he’s set up practice as a psychologist once again. His life with Nana Mama, Damon, Jannie, and little Alex is finally getting in order. He even has a chance at a new love.
Then Cross’s former partner, John Sampson, calls in a favor. He is tracking a serial rapist in Georgetown, one whose brutal modus operandi recalls a case Sampson and Cross worked together years earlier. When the case reveals a connection to Maria’s death, Cross latches on for the most urgent and terrifying ride of his life.
From the man USA Today has called the “master of the genre,” Cross is the high-velocity thriller James Patterson and Alex Cross’s fans have waited years to read – and the pinnacle of the bestselling detective series of the past two decades.
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy it’s rumored that the White House debriefed the author. The theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. The story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. Lauded by theWashington Post as “breathlessly exciting,” The Hunt for Red October remains a masterpiece of military fiction by one of the world’s most popular authors, a man whose shockingly realistic scenarios continue to hold us in thrall.
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
For LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch — hero, maverick, nighthawk — the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal.
The dead man, Billy Meadows, was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat” who fought side by side with him in a nightmare underground war that brought them to the depths of hell. Now, Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city to the tortuous link that must be uncovered, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit.
Joining with an enigmatic and seductive female FBI agent, pitted against enemies inside his own department, Bosch must make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, as he tracks down a killer whose true face will shock him.
The Innocent by David Baldacci
America has enemies–ruthless people that the police, the FBI, even the military can’t stop. That’s when the U.S. government calls on Will Robie, a stone cold hitman who never questions orders and always nails his target.
But Will Robie may have just made the first–and last–mistake of his career…
It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn’t seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.
Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn’t an ordinary runaway-her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can’t walk away. He needs to help her.
Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he’s convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents’ deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.
Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl’s life…and perhaps his own.
American Assassin by Vince Flynn
Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world…and then tragedy struck. Terrorists attacked innocent American citizens, and Rapp’s girlfriend was among the murdered. Two hundred and seventy souls perished on that cold December night, and thousands of family and friends were left searching for comfort. Mitch Rapp was one of them, but he was not interested in comfort. Now he wants retribution.
Two decades of cutthroat partisan politics have left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. America must confront Islamic terrorism with full force. Stansfield directs his protege, Irene Kennedy, and his old Cold War colleague, Stan Hurley, to form a new group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command–men who do not exist.
What type of man is willing to kill for his country without putting on a uniform? Six months of intense training have prepared him to take the war to the enemy’s doorstep, and he does so with brutal efficiency. Rapp starts in Istanbul, where he assassinates the Turkish arms dealer who sold the explosives used in the terrorist attack. Rapp then moves on to Hamburg with his team and across Europe, leaving a trail of bodies. All roads lead to Beirut, though, and what Rapp doesn’t know is that the enemy is aware of his existence and has prepared a trap. The hunter is about to become the hunted, and Rapp will need every ounce of skill and cunning if he is to survive the war-ravaged city and its various terrorist factions.
Behind the steely gaze of the nation’s ultimate hero is a young man primed to become an American assassin.
The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of House of Spies comes the first novel in the thrilling series featuring legendary assassin Gabriel Allon.
Immersed in the quiet, meticulous life of an art restorer, former Israeli intelligence operative Gabriel Allon keeps his past well behind him. But now he is being called back into the game—and teamed with an agent who hides behind her own mask…as a beautiful fashion model.
Their target: a cunning terrorist on one last killing spree, a Palestinian zealot who played a dark part in Gabriel’s past. And what begins as a manhunt turns into a globe-spanning duel fueled by both political intrigue and deep personal passions…
Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter
The inspiration for the USA Network series Shooter — “… A harsh, visceral, novel of conspiracy and betrayal by veteran author Stephen Hunter… a distrubing mix that plays on our sense of history while at the same time it appeals to our darkest fantasies of rough justice.” – Chicago Tribune
He was one the best Marine snipers in Vietnam. Today, twenty years later, disgruntled hero of an unheroic war, all Bob Lee Swagger wants to be left alone and to leave the killing behind.
But with consummate psychological skill, a shadowy military organization seduces Bob into leaving his beloved Arkansas hills for one last mission for his country, unaware until too late that the game is rigged.
The assassination plot is executed to perfection—until Bob Lee Swagger, alleged lone gunman, comes out of the operation alive, the target of a nationwide manhunt, his only allies a woman he just met and a discredited FBI agent.
Now Bob Lee Swagger is on the run, using his lethal skills once more—but this time to track down the men who set him up and to break a dark conspiracy aimed at the very heart of America.
The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor
In a daring and chilling debut, Brad Thor draws us into a sinister labyrinth of political intrigue and international terrorism, serving up an explosive cocktail of unrelenting action — and a shattering climax — as one man is pushed to the edge.
On the snow-covered slopes of Utah, the unthinkable has just become a nightmarish reality: thirty Secret Service agents have been viciously executed and the vacationing president of the United States is kidnapped by one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in the Middle East — the dreaded Fatah.
But one man, surviving agent and exNavy SEAL Scot Harvath, doesn’t believe the Fatah is responsible for the attack. Driven by his professional code of duty and honor — and a solemn vow to avenge his fallen comrades — Scot creates his own rules to get some answers. But his search for the truth raises the blood pressure of his superiors… and casts his own life in mortal jeopardy. The deadly machinations have been set in motion by a shadowy coalition, comprising some of the highest-ranking officials in government and business — men who operate above the law, men who realize the threat Scot poses to their hidden agenda… men who will do anything to stop him.
Now framed for murder and on the run, Scot goes for broke and takes his own brand of justice to the unlikeliest place of all — the towering mountains of Switzerland. It is there that he finds an improbable ally in the beautiful Claudia Mueller of the Swiss Federal Attorney’s Office. Together they must brave the subzero temperatures and sheer heights of treacherous Mount Pilatus — and enter the den of the most notorious team of professional killers the world has ever known.
The Bat by Jo Nesbø
The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø’s detective, Harry Hole.
Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.
The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . . . until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.
Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.
It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’ s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize– and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.
Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world–and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees.
Plum Island by Nelson DeMille
Taking the best elements from two of his most outstanding bestsellers, The Gold Coast and The General’s Daughter, Nelson DeMille combines the breathless suspense of an expertly wrought murder mystery with his wry perspective on a peculiarly American social scene to deliver an enthralling and compelling story.
Wounded in the line of duty, NYPD homicide detective John Corey convalesces in the Long Island township of Southold, home to farmers, fishermen — and at least one killer. Tom and Judy Gordon, a young, attractive couple Corey knows, have been found on their patio, each with a bullet in the head. The local police chief, Sylvester Maxwell, wants Corey’s big-city expertise, but Maxwell gets more than he bargained for.
The early signs point to a burglary gone wrong. But because the Gordons were biologists at Plum Island, the offshore animal disease research site rumored to be involved in germ warfare, it isn’t long before the media is suggesting that the Gordons stole something very deadly. Suddenly a local double murder becomes a crime with national and worldwide implications.
John Corey doesn’t like mysteries, which is why he likes to solve them. His investigations lead him into the lore, legends, and ancient secrets of northern Long Island — more deadly and more dangerous than he could ever have imagined. During his journey of discovery, he meets two remarkable women, Detective Beth Penrose and Mayflower descendant Emma Whitestone, both of whom change his life irrevocably. Ultimately, through his understanding of the murders, John Corey comes to understand himself.
Fast-paced and atmospheric, marked by entrancing characters, incandescent storytelling, and brilliant comic touches, Plum Island is Nelson DeMille at his thrill-inducing best.
One Rough Man by Brad Taylor
The first Pike Logan novel from New York Times bestselling author Brad Taylor.
They call it the Taskforce. Commissioned at the highest level of the U.S. government. Protected from the prying eyes of Congress and the media. Designed to operate outside the bounds of U.S. law. Trained to exist on the ragged edge of human capability.
Pike Logan was the most successful operator on the Taskforce, his instincts and talents unrivaled—until personal tragedy permanently altered his outlook on the world. Pike knows what the rest of the country might not want to admit: The real threat isn’t from any nation, any government, any terrorist group. The real threat is one or two men, controlled by ideology, operating independently, in possession of a powerful weapon.
Buried in a stack of intercepted chatter is evidence of two such men. The transcripts are scheduled for analysis in three months. The attack is mere days away. It is their bad luck that they’re about to cross paths with Pike Logan. Because Pike Logan has nothing left to lose.
Rules of Prey by John Sandford
#1 New York Times bestselling author John Sandford’s “haunting, unforgettable, ice-blooded thriller”* that introduced Lucas Davenport…
The killer was mad but brilliant.
He left notes with every woman he killed. Rules of murder: Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used… So many rules to his sick, violent games of death.
But Lucas Davenport, the cop who’s out to get him, isn’t playing by the rules.
The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson
Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gia, Repairman Jack doesn’t deal with electronic appliances–he fixes situations for people, situations that usually involve putting himself in deadly danger. His latest project is recovering a stolen necklace, which carries with it an ancient curse that may unleash a horde of Bengali demons. Jack is used to danger, but this time Gia’s daughter Vicky is threatened. Can Jack overcome the curse of the yellow necklace and bring Vicky safely back home?
A Clean Kill in Tokyo by Barry Eisler
Name: John Rain.
Specialty: Natural Causes.
Base of operations: Tokyo.
Half American, half Japanese, expert in both worlds but at home in neither, John Rain is the best killer money can buy. You tell him who. You tell him where. He doesn’t care about why…
Until he gets involved with Midori Kawamura, a beautiful jazz pianist–and the daughter of his latest kill.
The Cleaner by Mark Dawson
“It’s impossible not to think of Lee Child’s super-selling Jack Reacher. ” — The Times
John Milton is a problem solver. He’s the man the British government calls on to take care of the worst of the worst: the enemies of the state that the Secret Service and the military can’t stop. But years of secret identities and clandestine missions have taken their toll. Milton is troubled by nightmares and resolves to make his next job his last. Then, perhaps, he can start to make amends for everything that he has done.
Milton finds himself in the East End of London. A young mother needs his help to rescue her son from a life on the street. But the gang that has taken the boy in, and the charismatic criminal who leads it, are not about to cooperate with him. As London burns through summer riots, Milton finds himself in unfamiliar territory, dealing with an unfamiliar foe.
And when his employer sends another agent after him, the odds against him are stacked even higher.
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