At the forefront of “The Drifter”, the superb thriller debut from Nicholas Petrie, is Peter Ash, a veteran, who came back from war in the Middle East with a buzzing static noise in his head whenever he goes inside and a debt that he feels to help the family of Jimmy Johnson, a soldier under Peter’ command. Jimmy also came home damaged and is now dead, an apparent suicide. Peter’s urge to help the family will lead him on a collision course with a mysterious stranger illegally buying fertilizer and leaving a line of corpses on back roads and truck stops. It is the tip of a evil plan to kill Americans for money.
A tautly written thriller, lacking spies and anti terrorist troops, but with a convincing plot, mean and nasty and full of real character. Edgy and slowly boiling to a thrilling climax, this book will hold your interest long after a late night of reading.
A man of war, Peter Ash is doing day labor for Dinah, Jimmy’s widow, fixing a porch on the house that is near collapse. Before he can fix the porch, Peter is asked to get a mean dog hiding in the crawl space under the house. His encounter in the dark narrow space armed only with a small stick, his wits and a couple of pieces of rope is a brilliant start – a look into the heart of a warrior, who crawls head first into danger tackling the angry dog and a dangerous suitcase filled with 400K in cash and 4 bricks of C-4. But we immediately see another side of Peter as he works to tame the dog.
But that is not the only revelation about Peter or the money. Dinah’s house is being watched by a man with a gun. And a confrontation with Dinah’s old flame, a serious crime boss reveals no knowledge of the money or explosives.
Peter wants to protect Dinah, and he goes on the hunt – tracking Jimmy’s last moments, and uncovers evidence that Jimmy’s death was no accident. It seems that Jimmy was also trying to find a missing Marine. But he soon runs afoul of a killer armed with an AK-47 lying in ambush, who not only shoots at Peter but his truck, an insult that ends with a dead killer.
The killer and his friends have picked on the wrong man to start a fight. Peter is a war veteran with real war skills, good with guns, and in a tough fight, a killer trained by war and the Marines, who has stepped out of the action, but returns to it like an old glove. Having him in your rear sights is not good for the bad guys.
His search will lead him to a vet rehab center, a dead heiress, a murderous investment banker and important revelations about the death of Jimmy, and all the while a growing awareness of an evil conspiracy born of a taste for violence, killing and a grudge against America. An unexpected enemy, a nasty confrontation.
Until the chips will fall and Peter will have to stop it all.
The one issue with this novel is that a chief character, a killer involved in the evil conspiracy will unconvincingly change his spots, and it is a significant development just at the key moment. There are reasons for it, emotional, or the fact that even a hardened soul still has limits in what he will do, but it seemed to this reader to be a little forced.
Excepting this one flaw, this thriller has it all.