Title: The Drifter
Author: Nicholas Petrie
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 12 January 2016
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.
This book had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while and I’m a little disappointed I left it for so long because it was a great read. I always enjoy novels where the lead character is essentially just a good guy looking to help someone out and they get dragged into crazy situations and The Drifter ticks all those boxes. But what really makes it stand out is how great the characters are. I can honestly say that I have never read another suspense/mystery thriller where I felt I have connected with the main character more.
The Drifter is Nicholas Petrie’s debut novel featuring returned soldier and drifter Peter Ash. Peter has recently returned home after spending many years in war and is suffering from PTSD which has manifested itself in a form of claustrophobia, which Peter calls the “white static”. When Peter gets word that his former sergeant, Jimmy, has committed suicide, he feels guilty that he was never there for him, so he decides to help Jimmy’s family by fixing up their house on his own dime. While fixing the front porch, he finds a suitcase filled with money and explosives and realises that maybe there was more to Jimmy’s suicide than first thought.
The best thing about this book, hands down, is the character of Peter. It is very hard to make a character stand out in this genre because every main character is an alpha-male that is smarter than everyone else, but Petrie managed to make his main character stand out by making him relatable. Peter Ash is one of the most relatable characters I have come across because Nicholas Petrie has written him and his white static so well. I don’t suffer PTSD like Peter does in the book, but I do have anxiety and Petrie’s writing was so great at capturing that feeling that for once, I felt like I could relate to the character.
The story itself takes a bit of a backseat to characters, I feel. It’s fast-paced and action-packed like you’d expect from a thriller novel. There’s a little bit of mystery, but I found it to be quite straight-forward and easy to guess. Having said that, the story and the idea behind it is quite interesting and it does shine a light on the troubles that soldiers have fitting back in with society when they return home from war. Nicholas Petrie has a nice and simple writing style that makes the book flow nicely and I liked the fact that even though the book was written following Peter for most of the story, it switched to show several POVs when it got close to the big finale. Ultimately it is a solid story that works well because the main character is so engaging.
The only problem I had with this book is that there are a couple of moments where I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. I am not really a fan of fantasy and I like the books I read to feel realistic, like they could happen, but not necessarily that they will happen. My issue with the book in this sense is down to the characters of Charlie and the dog Mingus. There were a few instances where the things they did just stretched the bounds of reality for me. But obviously that’s just a little personal complaint.
All in all, The Drifter is a great debut novel with an interesting story and amazing character development. The great thing about having left it so long to finally read this book is now the agonizing wait until the next book, Burning Bright, comes out is nowhere near as long. And I cannot wait to see what is in store for Peter Ash next.
Worth a read? If character driven thriller novels with a good story and lots of action are your thing, then Nicholas Petrie’s debut novel The Drifter is well worth a read. Everything from the characters to the story and the action is well written and you won’t want to put it down. I highly recommend this book for all thriller fans.