Cover Image: The Runaway

The Runaway

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Member Reviews

Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on January 18, 2022

Peter Ash thrillers always give a fresh twist to a reliable formula. The formula involves an action hero (Reacher is probably the prime example) who roams around, either searching for or stumbling upon wrongs to right. Some action heroes have a sidekick or two (Ash has a friend named Lewis) and some have a significant other (Ash is married to a woman named June) while others roam in solitude, but they all have a loner’s personality: independent, uncomfortable in a crowd, happiest when working out their aggression by laying waste to bad guys. They have generally been damaged by life (Ash suffers from PTSD, not an unusual condition for action heroes who are part of this formula).

At an early stage in The Runaway, Ash stumbles upon a woman named Helene. She took over her mother’s waitressing job at a rural gas station in Montana. Her employer, a deputy sheriff, allowed Helene to live in a trailer in exchange for her labor. The deputy has made plain his intent to rape her when she turns eighteen. She has sex with a transient who is working a temporary job in the area, but he leaves her behind when he moves on to his next job. When a good-looking and charming stranger stops at the gas station for a bite to eat, she empties the cash register and persuades the man to take him with her.

Roy Wiley turns out to be a burglar and a serial killer. With a gang of three, he burglarizes summer homes in Colorado and high-end residences in a nine-state area. By the time Helene figures out that Roy is a criminal, she’s married to him. By the time she figures out he’s a killer, she’s pregnant. When she announces her desire to end their relationship, her pregnancy is the only thing that keeps her alive. She knows she’s trapped and she knows Roy will kill her when he does the math and figures out that the baby isn’t his.

Helene is making a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to flee when Ash finds her. The rescue is short-lived. Roy and his gang chase Ash and reclaim Helene. The story follows Ash’s effort to track down Helene, sometimes with the assistance of Lewis and June and a tough woman named Bobbie who gets dragged into the plot when Ash tries to steal her truck.

Bobbie is a strong, sympathetic character who, like Helene, has been wronged more than once in her life and has learned to survive. Helene is a complex character who does what she needs to do to survive. Nick Petrie invites the reader to consider the moral question of just how much leeway a victim like Helene should be given when she harms others to save herself. Helene isn’t necessarily a bad person but she certainly isn’t the best person she could be. She’s far from helpless but she’s also far from innocent. How readers might react to her is up to the reader. Petrie deserves props for creating that kind of ambiguity in a crime victim.

While the plot has familiar elements, it isn’t a typical “serial killer kidnaps an innocent victim” story. The plot takes interesting detours as Ash tries to catch up with Roy, while the characterization of Helene helps the novel stand apart from typical serial killer stories. The swift pace is suitable to an action novel, but the story transcends action. This is a smart novel about people in difficult situations making hard choices.

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This was my first foray into the adventures of Peter Ash, but it won't be my last. I really enjoy these types of action stories where a former military specialist ends up helping someone in need, and that's Peter Ash, a bit like Jack Reacher with PTSD. Fast paced, action packed, and a thrilling read. This works well as a standalone book, and now I want to go back and read the rest of the books in this series.
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This was a very unique entry into the series. I really like the main character, and how the author has portrayed his struggles with PTSD and how he helps the helpless. While you seem to go in thinking this is a Jack Reacher read-alike, it really deviates quickly. Peter Ash is much scrappier and much more of a loose cannon. This time we find him helping a lone pregnant girl, and he gets in over his head very quickly. Great read.
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The Runaway begins in rural Montana, where an orphaned, neglected, victimized and beautiful teenaged girl named Helene Johansen impulsively ditches her nowhere job in the middle of the graveyard shift at a broken down convenience store, and takes off with a charming stranger named Roy Wiley.

Several months later, Peter Ash is driving one of the many back roads through rural Nebraska, when he stops to help a seriously pregnant woman with car trouble.  It’s Helene Johansen.  She’s now nineteen years-old and living with a monster named Roy Wiley, who breaks into high-end homes throughout the west and steals valuable paintings, antiques, guns, and furniture which he and his crew then sell for cash.  An ex- cop, he’s also a remorseless, and stone cold serial killer who’s holding Helene against her will.  Although they were married somewhere along the way, she’s afraid he’ll eventually take her life.  But when Peter tries to help, he’s confronted by four armed men and barely escapes with his life.  The young mother-to-be, in order to save herself and her unborn baby, tells her husband that Ash was taking her against her will.  She does her best to be convincing . . . thinks he might even believe her . . . but can’t be certain.  Meanwhile, the ever-gallant Peter Ash is pulling all the stops in order to try and save her.  The crimes and the bodies continue to pile up all the way to a heart-stopping conclusion of this action-filled thriller in which the reader is never quite sure if anyone will make it to the last page and still be alive!!
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Another action packed adventure for hero Peter Ash, a veteran working through his own issues...he's a great guy with great friends to assist him.....& he'll need the help with the tough situations he gets himself into! The action starts with the 1st paragraph, & really doesn't let up! I've read in this series before, & I found the same effect in reading this installment.......you find yourself continuing to read late into the night, past your bedtime! I live in the area of the midwest around where much of the action takes place, & I can vouch for the author's accuracy of the area described. If you like action packed thrillers with really bad guys & really good guys, this is the book/series for you!
I received a complimentary e-ARC of this book from publisher Penguin Group/Putnam via NetGalley for review purposes. This is my own fair/honest review.
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While I love this series usually, I just did not love this one. I am sure the next one will resonate with me, but I just did not enjoy this story.
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The Peter Ash series is at its best when it’s driven by the buddy adventure vibes of Peter, Louis and June. Here in the seventh installment, the trio isn’t the focus of the story, and the plot suffers somewhat because of that.

Oddly, even Peter isn’t really the focus of most of the book. We hear most of the story from a one-off character named Helene, who is interesting in some ways, problematic in others. She’s Peter’s latest “rescue” of course, but Peter’s part in her story consists almost exclusively of action sequences, and June and Louis don’t even show up until the second half of the book and have a very minimal role.

If I’d liked Helene’s story more, this skewing of use of the main characters probably wouldn’t have mattered as much. But this is a spin on the Natural Born Killers plot, which is decidedly not my favorite sort of topic, even if one half of the duo is only partially responsible. 

The choice of subject makes this a nastier plot with nastier goings-on than is typical for the series, which I didn’t love. I don’t mind this sort of theme if it has a more intellectual bent to it, but thrill killing is decidedly not that and the whole icky feel of it felt a little out of step with the general metier of the series.

Perhaps after seven books, the series has simply run its course, though I hope that isn’t the case. Peter, June, and Louis, engaging in a light but exciting action/adventure is where Petrie’s writing shines. Here’s hoping for a return to that as the series continues.
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Talk about a page turner, Nick Petrie, knows how to tell one hell of a story. 

The Runaway, is book 7 in the Peter Ash series. Yes, this book is part of a series BUT can be read as a standalone and I honestly believe this is the best in the series, yet. 

Peter Ash, is an ex-Marine. As established in prior books, he suffers from PTSD but has learned how to control it.. In true Peter Ash, fashion, he can not help himself or the need he has to help others. When Peter stumbles upon a stranded motorist, he is quick to lend a hand. Not only is this poor woman stranded but she is also pregnant and someone wants her dead. 

Without giving anything away, I can tell you this, you will fall in love with Peter Ash, and root for him throughout this entire series. Now, I said that this is part of a series and can be read as a standalone BUT when the series is this good, why would you not want to? I am a super fan of Nick Petrie, and can not wait to see what he publishes next. 

You will not regret picking this book up. Five Stars.
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Nick Petrie is back this year with another great adventure starring Peter Ash. If you’ve never met Ash, you’ll quickly learn he is a troubled former Marine Recon Lieutenant. He’s got problems, we all do, but Peter Ash is never afraid to lend help to those in need. The Runaway is a perfect example of the completely flawed and brilliant character that Petrie has brought to life. 

Things start off in a busted ass gas and grocery in Podunk Montana. A young girl by the name of Helene, working a dead-end job on the register, is trapped by terrible luck and a manipulative sheriff’s deputy. While contemplating life’s lemons, in walks a gentleman to fill up his tanks for a long road trip. Could he be Mr. Right, or Mr. Right now? Doing anything to get out of the god forsaken town, Helene hitches a ride and ditches Coldwater, Montana. She has a tough time trying to read the mysterious Roy Wiley, her supposed savior until his career choices become apparent. 

As far as Peter Ash goes, he’s got a knack for being there for people when they are in need. Helene is a prime example as Ash finds her on the side of a road, broken down. While rendering assistance, the marathon of fighting begins for Ash and Helene. Peter is on the run from a relentless group of people that Helene wants nothing to do with, and he’s just biding his time and trying to not eat a bullet. While working through dangerous country attempting a daring rescue, Ash must be wary of all law enforcement as they supposedly associate with Wiley. Helene fights for her life while Peter fights with her sociopath tormenter repeatedly. Who decides who lives and who dies? 

The excitement of the challenge Ash faces bleeds from the first page and doesn’t end until the last. With that being said, Petrie made me hate Roy Wiley and I loved it. The amount of emotion he allows you to feel for the characters is amazing in this one. The landscapes and tremendous action are classic Peter Ash and quite possibly the best one yet. Ash has always been in unique locations, the great outdoors, amazing river and mountainous views, and Petrie constantly paints masterpieces.
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Nick Petrie delivers a nonstop action thriller featuring war veteran and drifter Peter Ash who encounters a pregnant woman being hunted by her dangerous ex-cop husband. What entails is an engrossing and suspenseful cat-and-mouse game that was a real page-turner.

Nick has a knack for writing a well-crafted, fast-paced thriller with engaging characters you become invested in as you read what’s happening to them.

Although this is the seventh book in the series, it’s the first one I’ve read and I had no problem picking up the series on book seven and will go back to read the other novels in this series.
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Nick Petrie is a relatively newly established author; "The Runaway" is the seventh Peter Ash book.  They are all good, but this one may be the best of the bunch.  Peter Ash, ex-combat Marine, started out with severe PTSD (in 2016's "The Drifter") which he is slowly getting under control.  He still feels the need to wander, and to help people.  

In this book Peter stops to help a stranded motorist, a young, very pregnant woman.  She is being hunted by a psychopath, and Peter, a Jack Reacher type, deals himself in.  I don't like spoilers, so I am not going to give any.  This is an exciting book, full of tension and action.  It is very hard to put down.

I am so happy that Nick Petrie decided to write his Peter Ash novels.  They are just wonderful, and Peter is an excellent character.  His development over the series is interesting to watch, and gives the reader tremendous sympathy for people with his condition.  Do yourself a favor and read this one.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
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(The following review will run on CriminalElement.com the week of release.)

Peter Ash just can’t help but be a Good Samaritan. And, once again, that need to help others has thrown him headfirst into dangerous gunfire.

It all starts harmlessly enough, when he sees an incredibly pregnant woman by the side of the road. There’s no way any semi-decent man could drive by such a lady in obvious distress, and Peter’s quick to throw open his door and offer her a lift.

But within minutes, the pair are being pursued by the young woman’s husband. An ex-cop, she briefly explains. A man who’s already killed two people — that she knows of.


	“What does your husband want?”
	“He wants me.” Her fingers worried at the hem of her skirt. The dress was a pale print, but the hem had a faint blue pattern, like embroidery.
	“What will he do?”
	“Take me back to the home place.” Her lips were pressed into a thin line, her shoulders curled forward over her belly like all the air had gone out of her. “He’s a bad man. I was leaving him.” She didn’t look at Peter. “Sorry. You shouldn’t have stopped to help.”
	“Somebody had to,” Peter said. “Might as well be me.”
	As if he had a choice in the matter. He wasn’t built to turn away from someone else’s trouble. As far as he knew, he’d been that way since he was born. The Corps and the war had only sharpened the edge.


The woman — whose name is Helene, though Peter doesn’t find that out for some time — doesn’t realize just how lucky she is to cross paths with the ex-Marine. Despite his sometimes debilitating PTSD, which manifests as terrible static whenever he’s in buildings, Peter is extremely talented at saving people. 

With his vast combat experience, wide array of weaponry knowledge and survival techniques, and his extremely fit body, capable of great violence, few men are better suited to take on trucks packed with gunmen in order to rescue desperate women.


	As a Recon Marine lieutenant, the tip of the spear for eight long years, he found he was better in a combat zone than he was on leave. His brain had rewired itself so profoundly for the fight that he could never quite turn off the reflex for war…
	Unable to function in the civilian world, he’d walked away from everything for more than a year, living out of a backpack, sleeping in the open and hoping the purity of the high granite peaks would set him right, take away the white static and wire his brain back the way it used to be.
	It didn’t help.
	But meeting June Cassidy did. She’d given him both a reason to change and the kick in the ass he’d needed to put in the effort. He’d also gotten lucky in finding a shrink who was a combat vet himself.
	Mostly the war lived in him now like a hungry wolf, curled nose to tail as if asleep, waiting always for the chance to spring to its feet.
	Like now.


But while Peter is no stranger to violence, and honestly eager to mete it out to deserving parties, he’s still, fundamentally, a good man. Respectful, loyal, kind, and unwilling to endanger any innocent bystanders even if it would give him an edge over his foes, he really puts the hard work in to make things right for Helene after a mere handful of minutes of acquaintance, maintaining his status as my favorite action hero in recent years.

Meanwhile, as Peter’s story unfolds in the present, we’re also shown Helene’s past. How she ended up by the side of that road so heavily pregnant and so determined to escape. With a poverty-stricken background marked only by loss, want, and spirit-breaking options, it’s hardly a surprise that she would tie herself to the first friendly man to pass through the gas station where she worked.

But unfortunately for Helene, Roy’s temporary rescue from her hellish living situation only takes her from bad to worse. Turns out the mysterious former cop with a charming smile is now a traveling thief who, along with a team of other hard men, targets the vacation homes of the mega-rich — and isn’t afraid to kill to get away scot-free. 

Almost immediately after their rushed marriage, Roy locks Helene away at his “home place”, a remote farm miles from any helpful neighbors. Not long after, she realizes she’s pregnant and even more trapped than she’d been in her awful hometown. 

At least, until she meets Peter Ash eight months later. A genuinely good man willing to brave Roy and his men, willing to outrun gunfire and use his tactical skills to turn the tables on the violent, possessive thieves.


	He hoped the pregnant woman didn’t disclose that she’d told Peter about the home place. Or that Peter had said he would come for her. If not, her husband would simply think Peter was looking for help, that he’d head toward the nearest house, looking for a phone so he could call the police. What any normal person would do when strangers began shooting at them
	That wasn’t Peter’s plan.
	He wasn’t exactly normal.


Yet again, Nick Petrie delivers a pulse-pounding thriller studded with action-packed scenes and solid stakes. The man has such a knack for building the suspense, until we’re left squirming at the edge of our seats. The cat-and-mouse game between Peter and Roy’s men unfolds quickly, over the space of just a couple days, but by interspersing the current action with Helene’s back-story, Petrie draws it out until we’re aching to know what happens next, leaving us sprinting through the many short chapters at a breathless pace to reach the bloody end as quickly as we can.

It always impresses me, too, how Petrie so skillfully sets the scene and builds the atmosphere. This time, Peter finds himself running across empty plains and corporate farms of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, and it’s not hard to imagine the cold wind and unsettling sense of dangerous exposure. 

The supporting characters are, as to be expected from the Peter Ash series, very colorful, from Roy’s unusual partner Frank to Bobbie, the no-nonsense excavator operator with a vicious coyote hybrid named Cupcake. Part of the fun of this series is seeing just what new weirdoes Peter will find himself allied with or confronting in a life-or-death struggle.

And the lady at the heart of the story, Helene, makes quite the impact. She’s both a poor victim and a resilient survivor you sincerely hope will ultimately find security, a young woman plenty of female readers will sympathize with from page one. She’s only ever been given the shit-end of the stick, but she still hasn’t lost her fire and determination. Truly, a gal worthy of Peter’s best efforts (and the many injuries he collects along the way). 

As is ever the case when I finish a Peter Ash novel, I’m already looking forward to the next adventure. Here’s hoping Petrie, like Peter, never runs out of fuel and continues to deliver the very satisfying goods.
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This is the newest installment featuring Peter Ash, former marine, suffering PTSD which he calls White Static. He keeps it at bay by helping others needing his assistance. Kind of like a Jack Reacher. Trouble seems to find him and he can’t turn his back on the call if he can help. In this case he comes across a pregnant young wife, Helene, fleeing from an abusive husband.  Her husband is a piece of work, more than just abusive. As the novel progresses we see he is a murdering psychopath. Scarier than hell. Helene has some back-bone and uses it when necessary, but you can’t help but feel her terror. The writer does a good job portraying the emotions of the cast of characters. 

This can be read as a stand alone, even though it’s a series about Peter and his lady, June, both evidently with a lot of history behind them. The reader sees glimpses of this throughout, but in this installment, June comes in at the second half. The first half is a lot of wordy descriptive scenes as Peter treks through the wilderness, forcing me to skim at times.

The second half ratchets it up a few notches, As the bodies start to fall, we wonder how this scenario will end, and just have to see it through. It kept me captivated. I’m sure followers of the series will not be disappointed. Release date is January 18, 2022. My thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the e-arc. I’m pleased to have another author to follow, Nick Petrie.
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Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for this arc.

Reading this will get your heart rate up and pulse pounding.
Peter Ash, a war vet / former Marine with PTSD went for a drive to clear his head and relax one day....   Along the way, he comes across a young and very pregnant Helene who was trying to run away from her husband.   Chaos ensues.   

The story bobbles about between Helene's past (how her relationship with Roy developed) and the present -- meet up with Peter.   There was a lot of blood, a whole lot of guts and gore, countless car wrecks and at least 2 jumps escaping into or out of a river.  "Action/Thriller" is a pretty weak description of this book. 

Lewis and June were back in this book, but more like cameo appearances.  Overall, the characters were probably the weakest part of the book, but they were fleshed out well enough not to feel like mere plot contrivances.

A great read for a sluggish grey Saturday afternoon.
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Nick Petrie writes a story that grabs you like a vicious dog and won’t let go until the very end. The Runaway takes former Marine, Peter Ash to the Midwest where he tries to help a stranded pregnant woman after her car breaks down. His good natured kindness turns into much more than he bargained for. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Fully fleshed out characters and breaknech plotting have made The Runaway by Mr.Nick Petrie a must read for 2022.Highly Recommended.
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Peter Ash is a war veteran with a serious case of PTSD when we first meet in him in THE DRIFTER, his 2016 review. In this, the 7th in a series, Ash's PTSD is mostly under control, but he still feels the need to wander. 
Ash, who seems remarkably like Jack Reacher, is a vigilante. And like Reacher and many other characters before including The Fugitive, Ash moves from story to story and finds someone in need of his help. He doesn't seek trouble, but it does have a way of finding him.
In THE RUNAWAY, Ash picks up a very pregnant woman named Helene from the side of a road not realizing what a world of trouble he is letting himself in for. The woman's husband is a sociopath, murderer, and serial burglar of high-end goods.
Ash has particular skills, and he puts them to good use here. There is lots of action, and fans of the previous novels will enjoy this entry into the series.
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One of the most interesting faces of the thriller genre is that of Nick Petrie’s main character, Peter Ash, and he is back in the latest installment of one of my favorite series with The Runaway.

As Peter Ash drives through rural Nebraska, he stumbles upon a very pregnant teenager named Helene. On the run from her psychotic husband, Peter offers his help. It turns out to be a decision that will change the trajectory of his trip drastically. Peter Ash desperately tries to save the woman, and uses his PTSD to work in his favor.

It’s another amazingly fun, character-driven plot. Peter Ash continues to be one of the most interesting characters in the genre. His PTSD brings on an incredible amount of claustrophobia, or as he calls it, the white static. I find this series such an enjoyable read, especially during this pandemic. With Peter’s PTSD, almost all of Petrie’s novels take place outside, in the wilderness, as his character moves across the country. With Petrie’s spectacular writing ability, he transports the reader into the novel, sitting next to Peter Ash under the stars, in his truck next to him, or side-by-side on another bold adventure.
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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Penguin Group Putnam for an advanced copy of this new thriller.

The limits of a series character are many. They can't really grow as characters, they can't really age, and the story always has to flow a certain way. Sure they might switch time, or points of view but the series as a flow; there is a problem, hero comes across problem, hero kills problem, hero rides away like Shane. 

That is why Nick Petrie's Peter Ash series, which this book, The Runaway, is the seventh book in the series, are so different. The character, damaged at beginning of the series, has begun to heal and return to society and life with friends, companions and love. And yet in his healing, Peter Ash has become more of an avenging force, one who won't stop, can't stop when an innocent is endangered, no matter the cost to him or others. 

Every book in the series seems different. The last books was almost Jon Land or William Gibson in the use of cutting edge technology to maim and kill each other. This book is more of an old fashion passion play, with Peter Ash and his complete opposite, a immoral genius vying for the body and soul of a young pregnant woman. The action is intense, and violent, but there is a lot more moralizing and emotions than you would expect. The young lady, Helene, is a very well developed character, not just the hostage or the body that most of these books treat these characters like. Her point of view is explored, and written about and she is just as important a character as Peter Ash is. 

A great addition to an outstanding series. Mr. Petrie has a very good character in Peter Ash and I appreciate that as a writer he is always trying something new and different with his characters and his series. Sometimes change can be very good, especially in a book series.
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Nick Petrie continues to show why he's one of the best authors around. This was a terrifying and gripping story. Can't wait to see what he does next.
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