Now Reading: The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie

I am really enjoying this exceptional debut crime/suspense thriller novel so far. I’m starting Chapter 8 tonight. I’d grabbed this one from the library a week or so ago, having heard nothing about it but was immediately sold by the description on the inside flap.

Description from the Hardcover edition:

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.

The Press buzz . . .

“[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.”—Booklist

“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. Like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Ash’s philosophy of detection is to poke a stick into something and see what happens. His discoveries will keep the reader on edge and whet the appetite for more from this author.”Library Journal

“Superb . . . A tautly written thriller . . . 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.”—

Check it out!

About the Author

Nicholas Petrie received his MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, won a Hopwood Award for short fiction while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, and his story “At the Laundromat” won the 2006 Short Story Contest in the The Seattle Review, a national literary journal. A husband and father, he runs a home-inspection business in Milwaukee. The Drifter is his first novel.

READER: New To My Bookshelves

So as a person with a severe book fetish and addiction, I’ve been hitting up the library a lot more frequently this summer than the rest of the year. Two easy reasons for that: One – I’m currently unemployed; the body may be somewhat “at rest” at home, but the mind absolutely must stay active. Two – I’m doing research, evident by the stack of non-fiction that’s sitting on one of the shelves.
What am I researching and what’s the research for? I’m researching the history of mankind, particularly the 18th & 19th centuries (recent stuff rather than ancient); diseases and pandemics that have spread throughout human history, and vampires. This research is for the on-again/off-again/on-again novel series I’ve been slowly developing since October 2009. The novel’s concept revolves around a unique kind of “living vampire” I’ve created as my own individual take on the sub-genre of blood drinkers. Why? Well, it started with the realization that my life partner/fiancee/wife-to-be (we’ll get around to it eventually) is an addicted vampire-geek. I thought, how the hell could I as a writer myself just sit idly by while she consumes countless books featuring fanged antiheroes? In that thought was born an inherent challenge for me to write something she could enjoy with her vampire-geek glee (because, sadly she’s just not into the crime and suspense, or even the literary/slice-of-life and experimental stuff I’ve written).
Prior to this I never had an inkling to tackle vampires in my fiction, except maybe once in all my years (I first started writing prose in 1993). And the way my mind works, the only way I would even flirt with the idea of writing a vampire story was if I could do it as uniquely as possible (execution is the key more so than originality). Being that it was the month of October, we we’re indulging in a slew of horror and thriller movies at home in anticipation of Halloween. There were four particular movies we watched in that 2-week span that really got my mind working on a germ of an idea I could run with: I Am Legend (adapted from Richard Mathesons‘ post-apocalyptic classic), and the first three Underworld films.

Ah, yes, the science angle rather than the typical and all-too-prevalent supernatural and Gothic angle. And so the rest of this story I’m sharing here is top secret and still in development with only a few scattered chapters written here and there. But I’m so close to finally getting my mind thoroughly wrapped around this vast canvas for an epic, centuries-spanning story I’ve created. Hmm. I could probably use an assistant as much as an agent.

I also still try to make time for fiction and biographical or documentary stuff, although it’s hard to get to that when job-hunting daily along with working on songs in addition to the researching and writing (and, if I’m honest, spending too much time binge-watching TV series). Perhaps just days prior to his death, I checked out Be Cool (1999) by Elmore Leonard yet again (because my paperback copy got water-damaged some years back). I also checked out, yet again, John Ridley’s Love Is A Racket (1998) because the book is hands-down the best neo-noir that I’ve criminally never owned! I need to just buy this hardcover edition from the library. I really doubt anyone else is checking the book out, as the book is practically in mint condition and Ridley is, criminally, not a bestselling author.
That’s all the new and recycled stuff I have on deck to read. Remember, kids: a literate mind is a valuable mind. Get yer read on!

Book: Thirst No. 1 – by Christopher Pike

Thirst No. 1: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, Red Dice (Thirst, #1)Thirst No. 1: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, Red Dice by Christopher Pike

Even though I have my own YA novel in development, I’m not much for reading what the market has to offer in that category (98% aimed at teenaged girls). However, I found this repackaging of 3 Christopher Pike novels from 1994/95 for $3.99 on clearance at Borders and I must say the opening chapter was one of the best I’ve read in a while. Sets up character, mystery, intrigue, suspense and plot beautifully in about a dozen pages. It’s a very well-rounded opening chapter with a great balance of backstory setup, character development and plot setup. I was hooked immediately. I told my wife who reads YA novels almost exclusively that “THIS is how you start off a novel!” I exclaimed. THIS is how you write in first-person! Put down the book you’re reading now and give this first chapter a shot.” She did and agreed.

The lead character, though female (a 5000 yr old vampire masquerading dangerously as a teen girl) has a voice that is immediately magnetic and captivating. She’s devious, yes, and certainly a badass to be reckoned with if what she narrates and does in the opening chapter is any indication. If more of the YA speculative fiction novels were less blatantly screaming “written exclusively for a (very big) niche and gender-specific audience”, and more about just telling a good story with a general appeal, I would be reading a lot more of them.

I’ll expand this initial review after I’ve read more.

View all my reviews

Update: My Reading and Writing Activities

It’s summer reading season in my household. Wife & kids have already begun their preemptive strike and as the proverbial slowpoke I’m playing catchup. I went to the library this past weekend to pay my dues…I told the library clerk that I was paying my annual dues. She chuckled, but I as serious. I always end up paying at least about $10 bucks a year to the local library for late fees. It’s just my way of giving back to the community. At least that’s my way of looking at it.

As for summer reading, unfortunately I am at a huge disadvantage because I have lots on my writing plate this summer, with a major editing project to wrap up in early July, and a novel to get back to. Since wrapping up the latest issue of Liquid Imagination in May, I’ve gone into selfish mode for June as I am spit-shining and polishing the dozen and a half stories selected for my forthcoming short story collection (tentatively due late September), one story at a time. Most of these stories go back some years, and today I’m a different writer in alot of ways than I was then, so it’s always interesting to revisit old works and apply the current you to blend with the old you. Since I’m my own worst critic, I’ve enlisted the help of a couple of colleagues who are just as ruthless as editors as I. I still have four stories I’m finalizing for specifically-themed anthologies as well that I’m pushing to the finish line. [More on the story collection as I get closer to release. I’ll reveal the title and the cover in due time.]

July is still bullseyed as official ‘back-to-the-novel’ month as has been the goal all year long, but prior to that I will need to close out the editing/formatting of the Local Heroes anthology I’m doing for Static Movement. The deadline is June 30th and I have a head start on the editing, but I will have to intensify efforts in the closeout to meet my goals.

Nonetheless, I squeeze in reading whenever I can. Don’t want to be lagging too far behind the family, voracious reading creatures that they are. In my backpack is a rotation of the following books currently:


Paperboy, a book I’ve tasked myself with promoting for my author buddy Bob Thurber, is a great read (I’m about a third through it so far).
Stories: All New Tales will likely only have a handful of great stories, one of which by Neil Gaiman himself.
I love noir and hardboiled fiction, especially when it’s just straight up crime fiction. This huge Best of American Noir book tapped me on the should at the library and gravelly said “Eh, you need to read me, bub.” A lot of my favorite crime writers are in there like Ed Gorman, Mickey Spillane, Elmore Leonard, and David Morrell.
Beneath the Surface of Things by Kevin Wallis. He’s another writer buddy I’d like to promote as well. He’s hard at work on his debut novel, but this is his short story collection form last year that is at least partially responsible for me deciding to release one as well, though mine won’t be nearly as good as his. Dude’s a heck of a horror, writer, if you dig that.
And recent additions to the stack o’ comics on my desk:
My first ever issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal. Not a bad read. As a set up issue it’s a bit slow, but judging by the cliffhanger ending shit’s about to get real interesting.
Rick Remender continues to write the best book in Marvel’s X-Men franchise and that is Uncanny X-Force. He’s arguably the X-Men’s best scribe since Grant Morrison in the early 2000s. Very pleased with this series, just wish they’d settle on a permanent and good artist (Jerome Opena, please!).
Two indie books from Image Comics that really got me excited about all the diverse creator-owned stuff coming from them lately (including Elephant Men which I still haven’t read yet). Undying Love (by Thom Coker and Daniel Freedman) is a cool ass action noir Japanese/American vampire movie distilled into a darkly beautiful comic. Two issues in and I’m hooked (of couse it’d be better collected into graphic novel, my preferred method of reading). But I’m along for the monthly ride…for now.
After picking up Nonplayer of the shelf and looking at its beautiful pages, there was no way I couldn’t buy it. Stunningly gorgeous art by Nate Simpson. I love the concept as well. Unfortunately he’s a one-man show on this comic, drawing it digitally on his computer, so he warns in the afterword that this series will be slow coming. But I think it will be worth the irregular wait.
What I haven’t read is a good biography in a while. I read biographical books much faster than fiction tomes for some reason. There are pleny on my to-read list too.