Summary and book reviews of The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie

The Drifter

by Nicholas Petrie

The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie X
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2016, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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About this Book

Book Summary

An explosive thriller debut introducing Peter Ash, a veteran who finds that the demons of war aren't easily left behind ...

Peter Ash came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with only one souvenir: what he calls his "white static," the buzzing claustrophobia due to post-traumatic stress that has driven him to spend a year roaming in nature, sleeping under the stars. But when a friend from the Marines commits suicide, Ash returns to civilization to help the man's widow with some home repairs. Under her dilapidated porch, he finds more than he bargained for: the largest, ugliest, meanest dog he's ever encountered ... and a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash and explosives.

As Ash begins to investigate this unexpected discovery, he finds himself at the center of a plot that is far larger than he could have imagined ... and it may lead straight back to the world he thought he'd left for good. Suspenseful and thrilling, and featuring a compelling new hero, The Drifter is an exciting debut from a fresh voice in crime fiction.

Chapter 1

There was a pit bull under the front porch and it didn't want to come out.

Young Charlie Johnson said, "That dang dog's been there for weeks, sir. It already ate up all the cats and dogs around here. I can't even let my dang little brother out the front door no more."

The hundred-year-old house sat on a narrow lot on the edge of a battered Milwaukee neighborhood that, like the house, had seen better days. It was early November, not warm, not even by Wisconsin standards. The leaves had already fallen from the skeletal trees that towered overhead.

But the sun was out, which counted for something. And the sky was a high, pale morning blue. Not a morning for static. Not at all.

Peter Ash said, "Just how big is this dog?"

Charlie shook his head. "Never seen it up close, sir, and never in daylight. But it's awfully dang big, I can tell you that."

"Didn't you call animal control?"

"Oh, my mama called," said Charlie. "Two men came, took one look under there,...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What is the significance of the title?
  2. In the first chapter, Peter Ash reflects with guilt on the ostensible suicide of his friend Jimmy, believing it was somehow his fault. Why does Peter feel this way? What does this suggest about Peter's character and about his relationship with Jimmy?
  3. Many of the characters in the novel suffer from war injuries that are "not visible to the eye." Which characters are impacted in this way? How does each character learn to cope (or not) with his unique symptoms?
  4. What do you think of the character Lewis? Did your opinion of him change over the course of the novel?
  5. The dog, Mingus, is a character unto himself. What does he bring to the story?
  6. The lives of returning veterans are a central concern of the novel...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Petrie knows what he’s doing as he paints Ash’s ease with children and dogs. We like this guy from the get go. That Peter refuses to act on his physical attraction to his best friend’s widow brings him into sharper nice-guy focus. He is intelligent, gentle when need be and has a sharp wit. We’re rooting for him even if he occasionally behaves as if he’s still in a war zone. Ingrained behaviors are hard to shake.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (871 words).

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Media Reviews

The Huffington Post

A gripping, beautifully written novel.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

[The] lean prose, gritty descriptions, and raw psychological depth give the novel a feel that reminded me of early Dennis Lehane.

Publishers Weekly

Petrie's expertly paced plot sets a colorful array of characters on a collision course. Readers will look forward to seeing more of the resourceful Ash

Booklist

[Peter Ash’s] sharply intelligent, witty voice strikes the right tone for an honest exploration of the challenges returning veterans face, and while this wandering veteran will remind some of Jack Reacher, Peter’s struggle to overcome PTSD sets him apart. An absorbing thriller debut with heart.

Library Journal

Petrie's impressive debut thriller is fine tuned, the action gripping, and through Ash offers a well-drawn portrait of a vet who can't escape his combat experience...His discoveries will keep the reader on edge and whet the appetite for more from this author.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A powerful, empathetic, and entertaining tale about the plight many combat veterans face when they come home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Top-notch storytelling.

Author Blurb David Baldacci, New York Times-bestselling author of Memory Man
The pace is like a sniper round, extraordinarily fast and precisely calibrated. The prose is fluid, original and frequently brilliant, the story heart-wrenching and uplifting at the same time.

Author Blurb John Lescroart, author of The Keeper
"With The Drifter, Nicholas Petrie has written just about the perfect thriller. I haven't read such a well-crafted and gripping story in a month of Sundays.

Author Blurb Steve Berry, author of The Lincoln Myth
A tangled tale of intrigue, action, and adventure with a battle-scarred hero who definitely rises to the challenge. The clever plot is firmly conceived and crisp writing makes this a terrific story, told terrifically.

Author Blurb William Lashner,author of The Barkeep
Petrie's novel keeps accelerating even as it burrows ever deeper into the dark heart of the new American dream.  It is a sterling debut.  And yes, the dog is a star.

Author Blurb Owen Laukkanen, author of The Stolen Ones
Teeming with grit and desperation and told in spare, vivid prose, this is not a debut you'll want to miss.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Homeless By Choice

U.S. Marine veteran Peter Ash in The Drifter is homeless – well, houseless. By choice. While he has little money he is not a vagrant. He has skills and does odd jobs. Outdoor jobs. Because Peter is incapable of staying indoors for any amount of time. This incapacity is a consequence of his military tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan where his job required him to search buildings, homes, small outbuildings. These searches often resulted in terrifyingly dangerous encounters where lives – both friendly and foreign – were lost. Now just entering a building, any structure, causes swift and merciless panic attacks.

Peter is a kind of homeless that doesn't fit the mold. He's smart, strong, self-sufficient and ...

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