Skip to main content

The Breaker: A Peter Ash Novel

Review

The Breaker: A Peter Ash Novel

Nick Petrie certainly has established his bona fides as a thriller author. THE BREAKER is the sixth installment in his Peter Ash series, which follows a troubled and somewhat damaged war veteran who continues to be drawn back into the life, as it were, despite his wish to simply live quietly and be left alone. While this latest entry has a couple of weaknesses, it also contains some of Petrie’s best plotting, characterization and writing to date. It is more than worth your while if you are seeking some unusual edge-of-the-seat thrills.

The book finds Peter hiding in plain sight because of the events that took place in THE WILD ONE. So he is somewhat reluctant to intervene as he and his best bud, Lewis, approach the Milwaukee Public Market to meet his significant other for lunch. June Cassidy, who possesses the situational awareness that all of us should have, notices a suspicious character who is carrying a concealed rifle. Peter and Lewis witness a strange encounter between this individual and someone who is vaguely familiar to June. The former gets away, but not before streaming bullets all over the place. No one is injured, but they are determined to get to the bottom of the encounter.

"[THE BREAKER] contains some of Petrie’s best plotting, characterization and writing to date. It is more than worth your while if you are seeking some unusual edge-of-the-seat thrills."

Peter and Lewis acquire a great deal of additional motivation when a powerful enigmatic figure from Peter’s past appears bearing an offer that he simply cannot refuse. If Peter and his friends can recover some valuable technological information from the principals involved in the incident they witnessed, Peter’s difficulties --- which include being headhunted, and not in a good way, by two governments --- will vanish. His motivation thus couldn’t be higher.

What follows is a series of textbook examples of good old-fashioned detective work, 21st-century-style, coupled with terrific pursuit and engagement vignettes that get better and better as one proceeds through the book.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that a great deal of the attraction to this installment is due to two factors. One is the low-key but steadfast inquiry of the local police, whose cop instincts begin tingling whenever they are in even remote proximity to Peter. The other is the introduction of a monstrous, almost inhuman, hitman who becomes involved in the proceedings and gleefully places Peter, Lewis and June squarely in his sights.

Wait, there are three factors. The third is the technology that Peter and company are tasked with retrieving from the wrong hands and placing in the not-so-wrong hands. Its practical applications are wonderfully and frightfully imagined, or, as Petrie hastens to tell his readers in the Acknowledgements, not so imagined after all.

THE BREAKER isn't perfect. The book's initial scene seemed to go on for a bit too long and almost lost me. But by the time I was a third of the way through the story, I couldn’t stop reading. My other issue is that Peter, ironically enough, was the least interesting of the three protagonists. He seemed to be along for the ride with Lewis rather than the other way around.

However, these problems were more than counterbalanced by the manner in which Petrie morphed a chance encounter in a public market into an extremely convincing save-the-world scenario set primarily in Milwaukee with a very important side trip to Chicago. That absolutely worked for me.

At the end of the day, I will never hear the word “hyena” again without thinking of THE BREAKER. Read it and see what I mean.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 15, 2021

The Breaker: A Peter Ash Novel
by Nick Petrie

  • Publication Date: January 12, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525535470
  • ISBN-13: 9780525535478