The author of the Jack Reacher series of novels is retiring and handing over the writing duties to his brother, according to a report.

Lee Child said he has been searching for a way to kill off the title character, portrayed on film by Tom Cruise, for years but has ultimately decided his fans deserve to see him live on in books which will now be written by Andrew Grant.

But Child, who was born James Grant, has reportedly set out a condition for his brother: he too must change his surname to Child.

“For years I thought about different ways of killing Reacher off. First of all, I thought he would go out in a blaze of bullets, something like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It would take an army to bring him down [but] Reacher had to have an afterlife after I was done,” Child told the Times.

Grant is an established author in his own right. “It’s not as if I twisted his arm into doing it. And he didn’t twist mine either. It just happened. It feels like a natural development. My brother is a good writer. Now he has a hero,” Child said.

He added: “Readers don’t need to know about me or whoever writes the books. They only really care about Reacher. And I know he’s now in safe hands.”

Child has sold more than 100m books since embarking on a career as a novelist relatively late in life at 40. Jack Reacher has been turned into a film and is also reportedly being made into a series for Amazon’s Prime service.

According to the Times’ report, the cover of the next Reacher novel – in a series which is published by an imprint of Random Penguin House – will read: “Lee Child with Andrew Child”, in what has been interpreted as a possible sign of the publishing company’s nerves.

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