Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel

Version: Abridged (Unabridged version available here)
Author: Lee Child
Narrator: Scott Brick
Genres: Suspense, Detective Stories, Action & Adventure
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: November 2018
# of Units: 6 CDs
Length: 6 hours, 30 minutes
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Family secrets come back to haunt Jack Reacher in this electrifying thriller from “a superb craftsman of suspense” (Entertainment Weekly).

Jack Reacher hits the pavement and sticks out his thumb. He plans to follow the sun on an epic trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn’t get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been: the town where his father was born. He thinks, What’s one extra day? He takes the detour.

At the same moment, in the same isolated area, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians had been on their way to New York City to sell a treasure. Now they’re stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. The owners seem almost too friendly. It’s a strange place, but it’s all there is.

The next morning, in the city clerk’s office, Reacher asks about the old family home. He’s told no one named Reacher ever lived in town. He’s always known his father left and never returned, but now Reacher wonders, Was he ever there in the first place?

As Reacher explores his father’s life, and as the Canadians face lethal dangers, strands of different stories begin to merge. Then Reacher makes a shocking discovery: The present can be tough, but the past can be tense . . . and deadly.

Praise for Past Tense

“Child is one writer who should never be taken for granted.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[Lee Child] shows no signs of slowing down. . . . Reacher is a man for whom the phrase moral compass was invented: His code determines his direction. . . . You need Jack Reacher.”—The Atlantic

“Superb . . . Child neatly interweaves multiple narratives, ratchets up the suspense (the reveal of the motel plot is delicious), and delivers a powerful, satisfying denouement. Fans will enjoy learning more of this enduring character’s roots, and Child’s spare prose continues to set a very high bar.”—Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)

“Another first-class entry in a series that continues to set the gold standard for aspiring thriller authors.”—Booklist (starred review)

“With his usual flair for succinctness and eye for detail, Child creates another rollicking Reacher road trip that will please fans and newcomers alike.”—Library Journal (starred review)

Reviews (14)


Written by Anonymous on August 27th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Good read. Enjoy the twist involved toward the end


Written by James B. on August 12th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Great Book and narrator.

Written by Michael A. on July 25th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Best of the Best! Reacher a true hero!


Written by Dave B. on July 15th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Hi people. I am an author myself. I was surprised to hear the story had a Y plot that met in the last part of the book. It takes a brave author to mess with a proven formula of success. I got into the separate narratives easily and my real interest was to see how Reacher was going to be involved in the other part. I was not disappointed in Reachers family story or the canadians story either. I was very pleased when Reacher made his grand entrance just in the nick of time. I could not put it down as we say. Book and plot might be too complicated for simpler minds but I give it high marks....


Written by Clausia C. on June 25th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Certainly not my favorite Reacher. Story was disjointed and confusing. One thing basically had nothing to do with the other :(

Written by Hazel G. on June 7th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book started off slaw and confusing to me. I couldn’t follow it mainly because I was interrupted so often. However when I finally got into it and could identify the storyline, I was set. I wanted to hurry to get to the end. Very entertaining. This is one of my favorite authors and character.

Written by John C. on February 9th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Ok book. Very hard to follow.


Written by Ron H. on February 5th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Reacher is back. Best book in the last 3. Good plot and nice interwoven stories. I really like Scott brick as a reader.

Written by Jack B. on January 30th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent Reacher story.


Written by Holger K. on January 3rd, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Definitely worth the money.

Author Details

Author Details

Child, Lee

Lee Child was born in the exact geographic center of England, in the heart of the industrial badlands. Never saw a tree until he was twelve. It was the sort of place where if you fell in the river, you had to go to the hospital for a mandatory stomach pump. The sort of place where minor disputes were settled with box cutters and bicycle chains. He's got the scars to prove it.

But he survived, got an education, and went to law school, but only because he didn't want to be a lawyer. Without the pressure of aiming for a job in the field, he figured it would be a relaxing subject to study. He spent most of the time in the university theater - to the extent that he had to repeat several courses, because he failed the exams - and then went to work for Granada Television in Manchester, England. Back then, Granada was a world-famous production company, known for shows like Brideshead Revisited, Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect and Cracker. Lee worked on the broadcast side of the company, so his involvement with the good stuff was limited. But he remembers waiting in the canteen line with people like Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Natalie Wood and Michael Apted. And he says that being involved with more than 40,000 hours of the company's program output over an eighteen-year stay taught him a thing or two about telling a story. He also wrote thousands of links, trailers, commercials and news stories, most of them on deadlines that ranged from fifteen minutes to fifteen seconds. So the thought of a novel-a-year didn't worry him too much, in his next career.

But why a next career? He was fired, back in 1995, that's why. It was the usual Nineties downsizing thing. After eighteen years, he was an expensive veteran, and he was also the union organizer, and neither thing fit the company's plan for the future. And because of the union involvement, he wasn't on too many alternative employers' wish lists, either. So he became a writer, because he couldn't think of anything else to do. He had an idea for a character who had suffered the same downsizing experience but who was taking it completely in his stride. And he figured if he brought the same total commitment to his audience that he'd seen his television peers develop, he could get something going. He named the character Jack Reacher and wrote Killing Floor as fast as he could. He needed to sell it before his severance check ran out. He made it with seven weeks to spare, and luckily the book was an instant hit, selling strongly all around the world, and winning both the Anthony Award and the Barry Award for Best First Novel. It led to contracts for at least nine more Reacher books.

Lee moved from the UK to the US in the summer of 1998. He lives in New York and France with his American wife, Jane. They have a grown-up daughter, Ruth. Lee likes to travel, for vacations, but especially on promotion tours so he can meet his readers, to whom he is eternally grateful. His latest thriller, Nothing to Lose was published in 2008.