STARRED REVIEW
January 10, 2017

“Get the bad guys. Save the girl.”

By Ron Rash

Former Marine lieutenant Peter Ash has a knack for finding trouble in the most unlikely of situations.

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Former Marine lieutenant Peter Ash has a knack for finding trouble in the most unlikely of situations.

In Burning Bright, the fast-paced, action-heavy follow-up to Nicholas Petrie’s debut novel, The Drifter, Ash is trying his best to keep to himself and avoid the “white static” that comes with his frequent bouts of post-traumatic stress, while hiking among the redwoods of Northern California. But a hungry grizzly bear hell-bent on devouring Ash whole has other ideas, literally chasing him up a tree where he finds a damsel in distress, June Cassidy.

That may seem a bit of a stretch, but if you’re a fan of Jack Reacher-style action/thrillers, who cares? Because like Reacher, Ash is a hard-nosed, take-no-nonsense hero who prefers to shoot first and ask questions later. So just go with it.

Cassidy is on the run from ruthless covert operatives after a complex computer algorithm invented by her mother, who died in a mysterious car crash. The pseudo-government thugs believe Cassidy can lead them to the program, which can learn and adapt on its own. Ash and Cassidy pool their skills to trace the missing algorithm to its source: Cassidy’s equally mysterious father, a man known as The Albino. Ash could just as easily have escorted Cassidy to the nearest police station and wash hands of the whole mess, but that’s not in his nature. His outlook is much simpler and he even says so on page 252: “Get the bad guys. Save the girl.”

Petrie wastes no time or excess words as the first hundred pages rip by. Things calm down a bit in the middle as the book’s intrepid heroes attempt to solve the puzzle and explore their own feelings toward each other before ramping up again in an explosive finale.

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