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THE PRICE YOU PAY by Nick Petrie: Book Review

Peter Ash and and his friend Lewis go back a long way, and they have the kind of bond that is unbreakable.  Each man would do anything for the other, so it’s something Peter doesn’t even have to think about when Lewis enters his house in the middle of the night and asks for assistance.

The two head north from Milwaukee in below zero weather to the home of Teddy “Upstate” Wilson.  Upstate had worked with Lewis and two others to do jobs that needed doing and no one else would or could handle.  Eight hours before he picked up Peter, Lewis received a text from Upstate–Bad men here.  Need help.  

While driving, Lewis fills Peter in on his friendship with Upstate.  Lewis and Upstate, along with two other men, “took care of things” when they tangled with a biker group in California.  There was gunfire on both sides, and Teddy got shot in the head as he stepped in front of Lewis to protect him.  Teddy suffered a substantial brain injury and basically retired to his land in northern Wisconsin with only his dogs for company.

When the men arrive at Upstate’s, they are met by two horrific sights.  The first is the house and an outbuilding, both with smashed windows and on fire.  The second is Upstate’s dogs, dead with multiple gunshot wounds.

Teddy had been left for dead by the men who killed his dogs, but although he’s seriously wounded he’s still alive.  At first he can’t think of any reason for the attack, but after a few minutes he realizes what the gunmen took.  Since his memory is so impaired because of his traumatic brain injury, he has been keeping notebooks on all the jobs he and Lewis did together.  He’s been doing this on the advice of his speech therapist Leanne, with whom he’s sleeping.

Now Peter and Lewis understand the reason for the brutal attack.  Obviously Leanne has shared the information that Upstate is keeping in his notebooks with someone who is mentioned in them and who now wants not only the journals but revenge for the killings inflicted on his gang by Lewis and Teddy.  Since the journals list names and places, it won’t be difficult for whomever has them to find Lewis.

The men go to Leanne’s office and explain, in a way that leaves her with no choice, that they need to retrieve Teddy’s books.  She admits that she told Mitka, another man she’s sleeping with, about them, so the four go to the motel where he’s staying to get them, and that’s where the killings begin.

The Price You Pay is fraught with murder and mayhem from almost the first page.  Although Lewis, Upstate, and the two other men who had been in their gang years ago are definitely hardened criminals, the author has made them human, understandable, and even sympathetic.  Peter is the only non-criminal in the mix, but even he has things in his past that he’d rather not have become public.

Nick Petrie has written a compelling novel, with believable characters and a tense plot that keeps going until the last page.  Readers may think that they shouldn’t root for Lewis and his former gang members, but they won’t be able to stop caring about them.

You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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