Ben Hamilton

On Jack’s Back

Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of ‘Make Me’

By

Bantam Press 303pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

This book claims to be among the first of its kind – an over-the-shoulder biography of a novel in progress – and perhaps it is, but as recently as 2012 a similar project was undertaken as part of the BBC’s Imagine… series. The documentary followed Ian Rankin as he wrote one of his Inspector Rebus novels and it was another reminder that, to the naked eye, the work of writing is indistinguishable from daydreaming. No matter how far the camera zoomed into the back of Rankin’s head – at one point the whorl of his hair filled the screen – the viewer failed to catch sight of talent unfolding in real time.

Reacher Said Nothing, which chronicles Lee Child’s writing of Make Me, the twentieth novel in the popular Jack Reacher series, is superior to the Rankin documentary because, at its best, it sidesteps the impossible task of explaining how a thriller gets written page by page. Child’s self-mythologising and his uniquely adoring fan base are the real subjects. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,