A Book Spy Review: ‘The Price You Pay’ by Nick Petrie


Set after the events of The Runaway (2022), combat veteran Peter Ash and his pal Lewis are in Detroit when they get a text from Teddy Wilson, a man who was once shot in the head and lived to talk about it, asking for their assistance. “Bad men are here. Need help,” wrote Teddy, who lives primarily off-grid, only leaving his secluded cabin once a month or so to gather needed supplies. Lewis knows the cry for help is unlike Teddy, and after filling Peter in about their past history, the two full send Teddy’s place, traveling through a snow storm, driving across eight inches of fresh powder and a near white-out to get there. But once they arrive, things take a turn.

Swapping driving responsibilities, Peter and Lewis arrive at Tedd’s place, passing a Jeep on its way out. Lewis explains that Teddy, who gets around on an ATV, isn’t supposed to drive. Pulling up to the house, Peter smells smoke and, deep down, knows it’s not just from a wood stove. Moments later, the log cabin comes into view—the front door blown off the hinges and a steady, orangeish glow building from within. Peter knows log cabins are harder to burn down than most people think, but that hasn’t stopped someone from trying to set Teddy’s place ablaze. Hopping out of their SUV, strapped and prepared for the worst, Peter comes up on four dead bodies. They’re Teddy’s dogs, each shot multiple times and left to bleed out in the snow. Following a fresh set of tracks, Peter and Lewis eventually find Teddy half-frozen and in shock. The man has no idea who stormed his cabin or why but eventually realizes what they took–his notebooks.

At first, the significance of the missing notebooks doesn’t register for Peter or Lewis. Teddy explains that Leanne, his speech pathologist, has been trying to help him regain his memory and create “new neural pathways, by encouraging him to write down everything he can remember. Everything. Including incriminating details about old jobs he pulled and crimes he comittied. Many of which involved Lewis, who, in a past life, wasn’t exactly on the straight and narrow. Then again, he ain’t exactly a saint nowadays either, occasionally leading a shadow group of operators known as the “Ghost Killers” who specialize in taking out evil men police can’t touch, even if it means coloring outside the law. Call it justice, call it fair, maybe even noble. But whatever you call it, Lewis knows that if Teddy’s been jotting down all his memories of their past jobs together, those details aren’t only enough to put him in prison; they could get him killed.

Knowing the new target on his back could put his family in the crosshairs, Lewis leans on Peter Ash, who takes up arms to defend his closest friend. They’re battle-tested already, but as things play out and the story unfolds, a worthy and ruthless enemy emerges—one who has power and will stop at nothing to take them down and make them pay for past sins.

Petrie, a strong writer who always finds ways to keep his series fresh, continues to do a fantastic job with his cast of characters. For years, Peter Ash has drawn comparisons to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher—especially in earlier books, when Peter, a drifter, kept trying to run from his problems, notably his PTSD, and was mostly a loner. Now, though, eight books in, Petrie’s brought his hero along, developing and fleshing him out and making sure to put the right characters around him. Lewis is great and the perfect ride-or-die BFF for Peter. Lewis’s wife, Dinah, also gets some screen time here, as does Peter’s longtime girlfriend, June Cassidy. Both are strong female characters, and Petrie avoids classic and overdone tropes, opting instead to build his characters in a smart and useful way. They’re all relatable, too, for different reasons, and longtime fans who’ve seen these families and friendships grow over multiple books will be especially upset to see them threatened. The good news is that Peter is always up for a good fight, and Petrie delivers great action served up alongside a hearty plot that, much like the snowstorm earlier in the story, only grows bigger and more unrelenting with each passing chapter.

Think Lee Child meets C.J. Box, and you’ve got The Price You Pay, a high-powered adventure dipped in action rolled in a mystery. Peter Ash is a great hero, and Nick Petrie is one heckuva storyteller—if you’re not reading him, start.

Book Details

Author: Nick Petrie
Series: Peter Ash #8
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0593540557
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: February 6th, 2024



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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