Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book Review: "The Drifter" by Nicholas Petrie

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam for making it available!

I've said in previous reviews that when I read great thrillers, I often think of my late father, with whom I would trade recommendations of books in this genre. Boy, would he have loved this one. Balancing tightly wound suspense, crackling action, and excellent character development, Nicholas Petrie's The Drifter is the type of book for which series and action films are made.

Peter Ash is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, who returned home after multiple tours of duty plagued by "white static"—serious claustrophobia brought on from the traumatic stress of combat. It's so bad he can barely stand to be indoors for more than a few minutes, which is why he spent the last year traveling the country, sleeping outside.

When he learns that Jimmy, one of his friends from his days in the Marines, committed suicide, he is overcome with guilt that he never tried to see him or make sure he was doing okay. To repay his perceived debt, Peter returns to the "regular" world to help Jimmy's widow and their children by doing some repairs to their house. As he starts fixing the dilapidated porch, Peter discovers that living under the house is the ugliest, meanest dog he has ever seen, and no one is quite sure where it came from.

Underneath the house Peter also finds an old suitcase full of money and explosives. It's not long before he realizes that there have been people watching Jimmy's house, trying to find where he hid the money—which puts Peter and Jimmy's family in harm's way. And as Peter tries to understand just what Jimmy might have gotten himself into, he discovers people willing to help veterans like himself, and he finds both unlikely allies and very dangerous, unlikely enemies. Who can he trust, and of whom should he be wary?

From the very start Petrie reels you into the book, and doesn't let you off the hook until the very end. Peter is a complex, fascinating character, and Petrie really did his research on the challenges veterans have faced after returning home. Even though I had suspicions about where the plot might go, I couldn't stop reading this, and definitely felt my pulse quickening as I raced toward the ending.

The Drifter is a tremendously self-assured debut, and I'll definitely be watching for what comes next from Nicholas Petrie. I hope that this was just the first book in a series featuring Peter Ash—he's a character who deserves to become as familiar as Jack Reacher and others.

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