He climbed down to the dry riverbed, hurting all over but more or less functional. His forehead felt warm and wet. He put his hand up, felt the slickness of blood, and wiped it away, reminding himself that head wounds always bleed like crazy.
He knew too much about damage to human bodies.
This post is overdue (as was reading this in the first place), and I can't seem to find time to do it right. So, I won't. Here's a quick and dirty way to get it taken care of. I wish I had it in me to do a better job, but I don't. Here's the blurb taken from Petrie's site:
War veteran Peter Ash sought peace and quiet among the towering redwoods of northern California, but the trip isn’t quite the balm he’d hoped for. The dense forest and close fog cause his claustrophobia to buzz and spark, and then he stumbles upon a grizzly, long thought to have vanished from this part of the country. In a fight of man against bear, Peter doesn’t favor his odds, so he makes a strategic retreat up a nearby sapling.
There, he finds something strange: a climbing rope, affixed to a distant branch above. It leads to another, and another, up through the giant tree canopy, and ending at a hanging platform. On the platform is a woman on the run. From below them come the sounds of men and gunshots.
Just days ago, investigative journalist June Cassidy escaped a kidnapping by the men who are still on her trail. She suspects they’re after something belonging to her mother, a prominent software designer who recently died in an accident. June needs time to figure out what’s going on, and help from someone with Peter’s particular set of skills.
Only one step ahead of their pursuers, Peter and June must race to unravel this peculiar mystery. What they find leads them to an eccentric recluse, a shadowy pseudo-military organization, and an extraordinary tool that may change the modern world forever.
If I had the time to do this properly, here are the things I'd be talking about.
At multiple points both Peter and June note that Peter's having fun when it's dangerous, when things are violent, when the bullets are flying. As a reader, this is great—you don't see Reacher, Charlie Fox, Evan Smoak, etc. enjoying things quite like this. But I'm a little worried about what it says about him as a person.
We get some good backstory on Peter—before he enlisted.
On a related note, Peter has a family! A well-adjusted, not violent, family.
Lewis is back from the first book—he's essentially Hawk and Pike with flair. His growing family ties are a real strength of character.
June is tough, capable, smart. She's complex in a way that most characters in this role usually aren't, and really ought to be.
The villains in this novel are great. Their motives are complex, they don't approach things the way you think they're going to (up to the last couple of chapters).
While trying not to give too much away, I appreciate that Ash doesn't have a scorched-earth approach to his opponents in either book.
Best of all, in the middle of the technothriller stuff, the action hero stuff, and all the rest, there's a real attempt to portray what a vet with PTSD goes through. How it molds everything he does, but doesn't define him.
The biggest compliment I can give is this: it kept me awake when I should have been. Since I got my new CPAP last summer, I haven't been able to read more than 2-5 pages with it on before I'm out like a light. So imagine how shocked I was when I realized that I'd barreled through over 50 pages one night! That's a feat.
This is a great thrill-ride, I'm not going to wait another year and a half before I get to the next one (it's sitting on my shelf as we speak). I strongly recommend the Peter Ash books.