Why Boris Johnson should take a leaf out of Jack Reacher’s book – Kevan Christie

Tom Cruise, as Jack Reacher, squares up for a fight in the film version of Lee Child's books (Picture: PA)
Tom Cruise, as Jack Reacher, squares up for a fight in the film version of Lee Child's books (Picture: PA)
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After Jack Reacher author Lee Child hands over to his brother, Andrew Grant, Kevan Christie wonders if Boris Johnson might let his brother Jo become Prime Minister. And future King Charles could hand over to Andrew… oh no, perhaps not.

They say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family and, in the case of Andrew Grant, this is no bad thing.

Grant is the younger brother of Lee Child – the guy who writes the Jack Reacher books, the 6ft 5in Superman who was played by the 4ft 1in actor Tom Cruise in the movie of the same name – before he quit acting to join the circus and get fired out of a canon. Bit height-ist that – sorry, not sorry.

Lee, real name James Grant, has passed the laptop to his baby bro’ having turned 65 and decided he’s now too old to write. He wants to spend more time looking for old war DVDs in Dobbies Garden Centre (it’s been a while since their last mention, honest) and watching his beloved Aston Villa.

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Andrew, 51, a writer in his own, er… right, has achieved the literary equivalent of winning a watch in continuing the series, which is somewhat ironic given that his new bestie Jack Reacher doesn’t own one, having an in-built natural clock.

Perhaps Lee has no sense of time either and is really aged 75 but even then he’s a bit young to be giving up the writing which I kind of thought was something you did until your dying breath like Philip Roth and Elmore Leonard, who were both producing quality work well into their 80s.

PG Wodehouse more my style

Anyway, the books starring Reacher, a vigilante drifter and former military police officer who spends his time having ‘square-goes’ with anyone who fancies it and killing those who don’t, have sold more than 100 million copies and grossed around £40 million to date.

“You want some?” ... Andrew clearly does and will now change his surname from Grant to Child – a small price to pay for a large chunk of change.

At this point, I must confess to never having read one of the Reacher books, dear readers.

It’s a bit industrial for my taste and as you know I much prefer to lounge in the coffee parlours of Stockbridge pouring over my well-thumbed copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s classic One Hundred Years of Solitude or the latest PG Wodehouse.

There’s not much to crime writing anyway if you ask me.

All you do is create your own version of Philip Marlowe, the hard-boiled detective created by the master Raymond Chandler who is the benchmark for the genre.

Then you transport him to a city of your choosing – say Edinburgh for instance, give him another name, like Rebus, give him a troubled backstory and a chequered love life – then decide what he’s drinking too much of. Gimlets and/or bourbon in Marlowe’s case.

You can basically take the plotlines out of stories in the local paper and spend the rest of your time deciding how to spend your not-so-hard-earned millions. As if it were that easy – then we’d all be doing it (including me).

Harper Lee conspiracy theories

Andrew is obviously onto a nice little earner here, carrying on where Lee/James left off, although the cover of the next novel will say ‘Lee Child with Andrew Child’ with the younger sibling apparently doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

Lee was quoted as saying: “I’m excited to read what he comes up with, because I’m betting it will be great. If I’m Reacher, then so is he. Maybe more so. Trust me – this is going to be the real deal.”

No pressure then – what could possibly go wrong?

That quote reads like Andrew may have already had a part to play in the writing process but we’ll save the Harper Lee-Truman Capote, To Kill a Mockingbird conspiracy theories for another day.

All this brotherly love comes with the added stress of following in the more famous sibling’s footsteps. There are plenty examples of this where it’s gone well and not so well.

Boris/Jo job swap?

Doug Pitt, younger brother of Brad is a businessman, philanthropist and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Republic of Tanzania.

An all-round good guy, he’s been asked to stand as a candidate for both the Democrat and Republican parties and was also the first man to cycle – with unprecedented government permission – down Mount Kilimanjaro. “OK, so you’re Doug Pitt – that don’t impress me much.”

Again, on the plus side of all this shared-sibling responsibility, I’m sure many people would think it a good idea if Boris Johnson had decided he was going to let his wee brother Jo fill in for him as Prime Minister when he jetted off to Mustique with Carrie Symonds at the first sniff of a war.

Jo, who resigned as an MP last September over the failure of Brexit negotiations to achieve what had been promised by the Vote Leave campaign, might have stayed on if BoJo had let him step up from time to time.

This could have worked a treat, although we should keep an eye out for Prince Charles letting his younger brother Andrew have a shot at being King when he finally steps up to the plate.

Obviously, Andy could handle this – ‘no sweat’ while ordering in his Pizza Express doughballs – but that’s not really the problem with him now, is it?