Nick Petrie’s first two novels

I am always excited when I discover a new author.

About ten years ago my brother-in-law handed me Lee Child’s “Killing Floor” and I read my first Jack Reacher adventure. I was hooked. I read the dozen or so Reacher books that were available then started reading each one as it became available. Between my brother, my brothers-in-law, my son and my nephews, I only had to buy a couple. The rest passed my way as they made their way through the family.

After ten years I am finally able to return the favor, at least in a small way.

I browse the books in the supermarket. I saw Nick Petrie’s “Burning Bright” and read the first chapter before the manager asked me for the third time if everything was okay.

“Burning Bright” was the second Petrie book. The writing was clever and tight. The story was interesting and unexpected. It was good enough that I wanted to read Petrie’s first before I went any further in his second. As soon as I got home I ordered “The Drifter” from Amazon and read it when it arrived 48 hours later.

I’ve read enough books that I don’t often get caught up in a book and have to finish it before I turn off the light. I did with “The Drifter.” I finished it in one reading.

Peter Ash is an ex-USMC lieutenant. He suffers from PTSD. His friend commits suicide while Ash is in the mountains dealing with his own problems. When Ash learned of the suicide, he tried to help his friend’s family only to find out that there was more to the suicide than there seemed at first.

Peter Ash is not the sleeping giant that Jack Reacher is. Ash is just a guy trying to deal with the things he went through in the Middle East and the way those things changed him.

Petrie idealizes veterans a little, but he also shows some of the things veterans have to deal with while serving and after serving their country. He does this while telling a gripping story.

Ash meets some memorable characters who turn out differently than any I have read in other books. Some of the good guys turn out to be not so good. Some of the bad guys are pretty bad, but in unexpected ways. Petrie surprised and pleased me with his handling of both the good guys and the bad guys.

I took a short break then read “Burning Bright.” Peter Ash uses the skills he learned as a Marine and, with the help of some of his veteran friends, takes an out-of-control private contractor out of the game. “Burning Bright” is full of great characters, tomorrow’s technology and some men and women who aren’t what they seem at first blush.

Anyone can write a first novel. It takes a writer to write a second novel. Nick Petrie is a writer.

I can now balance the scales with my brother-in-law. I can turn him on to a series we can share. On the one hand, I’m glad I found Petrie first. On the other hand, I’m sorry I found him when he’d only written two books. I am looking forward to reading more of Peter Ash’s adventures. I’ve read lots of stories. It takes something new to surprise me. Petrie surprised me in both his first and second novels. He won’t get by me next time. I’ll be ready and waiting.