In “The Runaway,” Peter Ash stops to help a pregnant woman stranded by the side of a rural Montana road

“The Runaway” by Nick Petrie (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Long haul trucker Roy Wiley is handsome and charming, so when he stops at a gas station in dreary Coldwater, Montana, the lonely 19-year-old girl working behind the counter begs him to take her with him.

But Wiley is not what he seems. Months later, Helene Johansen finds herself pregnant and married to the murderous leader of a gang professional thieves. Terrified of him, she decides to escape.

In “The Runaway,” Nick Petrie’s seventh thriller featuring Marine veteran Peter Ash, the hero discovers her standing beside a broken-down car on a rural Montana road. But as Ash helps her into his truck, Wiley and his gang show up, guns blazing. As they recapture her, Ash dives into a river, barely escaping with his life.

Helene claims that Ash was abducting her, but Wiley isn’t sure he believes it. He’s also worried she might have told Ash what the gang has been up to. So he sets out to hunt Ash down.

Ash goes on the run, but those familiar with the earlier books know that he won’t be running from danger for long. As his friend June, an investigative reporter, explains it, Ash can’t keep his nose out of other people’s problems.

“It was one of the things that kept his post-traumatic static from raging out of control,” she says. “It provided the periodic doses of atonement he needed to keep washing himself clean of that war. Plus his inner marine liked the adrenaline.”

So as Wiley and his gang are hunting Ash, the hero, hell-bent on rescuing Helene, starts hunting them. The result is another violent, fast-paced thriller in this action-packed series.

Nevertheless, “The Runaway” is something of a departure from the previous books which were narrated from Ash’s point of view. In this one, the story is told through Helene’s eyes, too.

Gradually, we watch her transformation from a hapless victim into a fierce participant in her own rescue — and something of a dangerous character in her own right.

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Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”



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