Peter Ash

Created by Nick Petrie

Maybe someone should send Jack Reacher a box of condoms — or at least a book telling him where all his babies are. Because the way his bastard sons and daughters are starting to pop up on Amazon, I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to clue him in.

But having said that, of all the pale imitations and overly earnest photocopies and assorted sucker fish trying to attach themselves to the Great White gravy train, Nick Petrie’s PETER ASH may be the best of the bunch, a stand-up guy whose shit magnetism is on a par with the big boy himself.

Like Reacher, Ash is a vet,  in his case recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike Reacher, Ash has PTSD buzzing in his head, a constant “white static” and all-pervading claustrophobia that drives him away from safety or shelter, family or friends. When we first meet him in the approriately titled The Drifter (2015), he’s been sleeping rough outdoors for over a year, wandering from town to town, bouncing around like he’s in a Woody Guthrie song or something.

And then shit happens. A friend from the Marines commits suicide and Ash slithers reluctantly back to civilization to do some home repairs for his widow and discovers a suitcase full of cash. And explosives.  Or he discovers a woman hiding out in the wilds of California’s redwood forests from men with guns. Or he’s helping out a friend’s daughter guard a large load of cash destined for a Denver bank when he’s attacked. Or somebody drives a dump truck into the living room of a friend of a friend  in Memphis.

Like I said, a shit magnet.

What makes Ash work, when so many imitations fall flat, is that he’s a complete character built from the ground up, not a cardboard cut-and-paste job, with search-and-replace minor alterations.

Mind you, Ash has his problems, but it’s that refreshing emotional vulnerability and welcome uncertainity that keeps him from being a mere clone of you-know-who.


  • “Lots of characters get compared to my own Jack Reacher, but Petrie’s Peter Ash is the real deal.”
    — Lee Child


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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