How To Read Nick Petrie Books In Order [Complete Guide]

Nick Petrie smashed the crime thriller scene with his books, but his biggest impact came in the form of his Peter Ash books.

These books follow the story of an ex-marine who is trying to get back to normal after the war. 

How To Read Nick Petrie Books - Order Of Publication [Complete Guide]

He travels around America to help those in need. The series contains 8 books and has become very popular in recent years with the thriller community.

His first book in the series also won some awards as well, speaking for his talent.

Before Nick Petrie started writing his books, he was a carpenter, building inspector, and remodeling contractor.

Perhaps one of the careers you would not typically associate with a talent for writing. 

However, hidden behind these hard-working hands was a man who loved to write, he even had an MFA in fiction from Washington University. 

About Nick Petrie Books

His debut into the world of literature was ‘The Drifter’, the first book in the ‘Peter Ash’ series.

It won numerous awards, including the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and the ITW Thriller Award. 

All of his books since have been in the ‘Peter Ash’ series, so far there are 8 books in this series. 

As is with many thriller books, each of the books in the Nick Petrie ‘Peter Ash’ series follows a unique mystery.

That being said, it is still worthwhile taking the time to read these books in the order they were published in.

Doing so gives you the best introduction to the protagonist and his life. 

This is a key factor as the development of Ash’s character is a critical part of the plot, with his trauma having influence over his actions.

If you were to read these in the incorrect order then you would also learn some critical information about Ash in the incorrect order as well. 

Publication and chronological order are the same with these books. 

Nick Petrie Books In Order

The protagonist of this story is Peter Ash, Ash is a drifter who helps people who are in need as he travels.

That being said, he also needs to face his PTSD from his time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The Drifter

The Drifter (A Peter Ash Novel)

Peter Ash has come home from war, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan with a single souvenir that he calls ‘White Static’ but we know to be PTSD.

This Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has also driven him to spend a full year roaming in the wild. 

However, a friend of his from the Marines dies, and Ash returns to help his friend’s widow with home repairs.

Yet then, underneath an old porch in her home, he finds exactly what he wasn’t expecting to find. 

He finds a mean, ugly hound, as well as a suitcase stuffed full of explosives and cash.

Ash is shocked and starts to investigate this discovery, but ends up finding himself seemingly at the center of a plot he never thought he would be in. 

It would even lead him right back to where he least wants to go.

This book is a favorite due to its touch on Ash’s PTSD, but also its community feeling and action.


  • Unique reading style – Reads a lot like an action movie. 
  • A very exciting and gripping read. 
  • Realistic protagonist with flaws. 
  • Action-packed adventure. 
  • Deep and meaningful storytelling.


  • Perhaps too dark for some readers.
  • More action than ‘crime’ for most of the book. 
  • Possibly triggering for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Burning Bright

Burning Bright (A Peter Ash Novel)

Peter Ash tried to find some peace in the redwood forests of Northern California, however, it was not quite the vacation from the chaos he had hoped for.

The forest is too dense and the fog too heavy, which causes his claustrophobia to spark off, and then he stumbles across a grizzly. 

In his fight with the bear, he knows that he will lose, so he flees up a sapling, but find a strange, out-of-place climbing rope, leading through the canopy of the forest and finishing at a hanging platform, where he finds a woman fleeing, and below, gunshots and angry men. 

Only days prior, June Cassidy, an investigative journalist escaped a kidnapping, but the men are still hot on her trail.

She believed that they were hunting for something that belonged to her mother, who was a well-known software designer who recently passed away. 

June has to find out what is really going on, and Peter Ash is a man with the skills she needs.

They are only a mere step ahead of those pursuing her but are in a rush to unravel the threads of this mystery. 

They get led to an eccentric recluse, a shadowy pseudo-military organization, but most shocking of all, an incredible tool that has the potential to change the world indefinitely.

This is a fan favorite due to its new setting, but the continuing need for Ash to face his PTSD. 


  • Changing scenery – Reader’s likely to stay interested and not get bored.
  • New characters as well as the protagonist.
  • New mystery.
  • Good clear writing.
  • Action-packed.


  • PTSD is used as a primary storyline which some readers do not find so appealing. 
  • Totally new mystery – Not appealing to all readers. 
  • Action may feel repetitive.

Light It Up

Light It Up (A Peter Ash Novel)

Ash lives a very simple life now, he builds hiking trails in Oregon as a helping hand to Henry Nygaard, his friend, whose daughter runs a security company that helps all kinds of people in Denver. 

All is well, until Henry’s son-in-law and the operations manager of the company carry a large chunk of client money and suddenly the vehicle vanishes, with no trace, leaving the company, and Henry’s daughter very vulnerable. 

When Ash rides on another cash run, he finds that he and the cargo are under attack. Just escaping with his life, they investigate. 

The assaults grow more regular, Ash grows more curious and wonders if the criminals are so sophisticated, can this really only be about the cash they carry? 

Eventually, Ash has enough and puts together his resources and digs to uncover the truth of a very big and lucrative scheme.

His enemy won’t go down quietly though, and now Ash faces danger. 

This book is a favorite of fans due to its heavy action and realism.


  • Works as a stand alone, even if you have not read previous books.
  • Action-packed scenes. 
  • Realistic characters.
  • Intricate storytelling.


  • Predictable.
  • Repetitive action.
  • Works as a stand alone, even if you have not read previous books.
  • Mention of marijuana – Not for every reader.

Tear It Down

Tear It Down (A Peter Ash Novel)

Veteran Ash is stressless at home, where he now lives with June Cassidy.

Ash needs to be on the go, and so, she sends him to Memphis to help her friend who is a photographer and war correspondent, Wanda, who has been on the receiving end of some rather odd threats. 

However, when he gets there, someone has driven a dump truck to Wanda’s living room, but Ash and Wanda can’t quite figure out why. 

While this is happening a young street musician is hooked into a robbery plan, but the heist goes awry, and now he is holding a sack of stolen Rolexes and is running for his life, but when his car breaks down, he gets a new one, Ash’s pickup truck, which he steals at gunpoint. 

Ash is a fan of the attitude and smarts of the kid, but finds he is in a much more serious situation than he is aware of, all while Wanda’s situation is just getting worse!

Ash ends up stuck in between some peculiar situations, on one hand, he’s dealing with some Memphis gangsters who are hunting for revenge and Rolexes. 

On the other hand, he is also dealing with an ex-con and his hog butcher in Mississippi who are hunting for a piece of family history that dates back to the Civil War!

This is a favorite for fans due to the continuing storyline of June, and the multiple-villain storyline.


  • Familiar feeling with familiar characters, but a new adventure.
  • Surprises that keep your attention.
  • Plot twists.
  • Action-packed.
  • Diverse characters.


  • Easy reading – Not ideal for all readers.
  • Very action-packed, and less mystery.

The Wild One

The Wild One (A Peter Ash Novel)

Ash’s fight against his PTSD is not going well, he has absolutely no intention of ever getting on a claustrophobia-inducing airplane.

However, when a grieving woman asks him to find her grandson, who is only 8 years old. 

The daughter of the woman has been murdered, and Erik, the husband of his deceased wife, is the primary suspect.

He took his son and fled the country to Iceland to protect himself and his lawless family. 

Ash tries to find the boy, but it all gets much more complicated when Peter is met by a man from the US Embassy at the airport.

For some bizarre reason, it would seem that the government does not want him to go to Iceland. 

They allow him two days of seeking Reykjavík before he needs to get on the next available seat back home.

However, when they discover that Ash is not returning until his mission is complete, they are on the hunt for him as well, and the hunter ends up the hunted. 

From the Northern capital to a small farm just away from the arctic, Ash is forced to confront his ever-worsening PTSD, as well as the most powerful snowstorm his generation has ever seen. 

He fights all this and more to find a killer, save a young boy, and stay as far as he can be away from Icelandic prison, or a very cold arctic grave. 

This is a fan favorite because of its unique setting and new environment. 


  • Landscape building is delicately done.
  • The unique and different setting from previous books.
  • More character-building for the protagonist. 


  • Minimal dialogue.
  • Less intricate character-building than in previous books.
  • Ash’s companions are not in the book.

The Breaker

The Breaker (A Peter Ash Novel)

Ash is now a man wanted by 2 different governments, but he has found reprieve in a simple and low-key life in Milwaukee.

He and June live together, while he renovates old buildings with a friend, Lewis. 

He knows that keeping out of trouble is the best way to keep the peace he craves. 

However, he ends up stopping a strange armed man walking into a bustling market, and with Ash being who he is, he cannot just stand idly by and do nothing! 

He interrupts a crime, but it was not quite what he thought.

A gunman appears to only have a single target and mission, but he escapes and his victim vanishes before the police turn up.

There was more going on here than anyone would’ve guessed. 

Ash is proven correct when an associate from his past appears with a crime interest and an offer.

If it is possible for June and he to solve a certain mystery then Ash can get his record wiped squeaky clean.

Ash and Lewis track down the gunman, while June looks into the victim.

As these two investigations grow closer, they are put into the path of a tech thief, an inventor, and a weirdly upbeat assassin, as well as horrendous technology that could bring calamity if the wrong people got their hands on it.

For Ash, it is even worse, however, this is the only path to freedom, and he needs to fight even harder than before, or freedom could be more expensive than he ever imagined. 

This book is a favorite of fans due to the involvement of Lewis and June, favorite characters.


  • Lewis & June return to the story.
  • Engaging main characters.
  • Plenty of action.


  • Very ‘techno’-focused. 
  • Somewhat predictable.
  • ‘Bad guys’ do not seem to sustain damage – lack of realism.
  • Many readers find June to be less engaging and more abusive/irritating in this book.

The Runaway

The Runaway (A Peter Ash Novel)

Ash is on his way through the North of Nebraska when he comes across a young pregnant woman on a gravel road, alone.

He offers her a lift, but this simple act of kindness manages to become a ruthless chase. 

Racing across highways with the young woman’s lawless ex-cop partner on their trail, she ends up seeing what she was never meant to, but protecting her could prove more than Peter is capable of. 

To save them both, he needs to use every skill he developed as a marine to escape a vicious killer who is more skilled than he is.

This is a fan-favorite book due to the intense crafting of a truly dark and evil villain.


  • Plenty of plot twists.
  • Very intense read.
  • New characters. 
  • New, truly dark villain.


  • Potentially triggering.
  • Less mystery and more thriller.
  • Suspends reality occasionally.

The Heavy Lift

The Price You Pay (A Peter Ash Novel)

Lewis, Ash’s friend has helped him out countless times and has saved his life many times also. This means that when Lewis asks for a favor, Ash says yes immediately. 

Lewis has left his life of crime behind him, but a former associate and friend seem to be in trouble, so Lewis and Ash need to go and check in on him.

But, as you’d expect, this visit quickly turns quite grim when they find a cabin smoldering. 

Quickly they discover that someone has decided to steal a notebook full of the incriminating secrets of Lewis’ life of crime long ago. 

It is now up to Lewis and Ash to uncover the location of these notebooks, as what is in them is very dangerous.

Not only do their contents endanger the home and the family Lewis has built from the ground up, but his life as well. 

With the help of June, they start searching. 

Eventually, they find themselves faced with professional criminals.

Forced to take on the dark sides they have worked so hard to keep hidden away, they face these vicious enemies. 

This book is yet to be released but is greatly anticipated.


  • A great follow-up to previous books. 
  • A real test for the characters. 
  • All 3 primary characters are included.


  • The book is released in mid-2023.
  • Paperback is not yet available.

Final Thoughts

Many fans of the Nick Petrie books compare Peter Ash to Jack Reacher, and I can see the comparison here.

However, there is something unique about this character, and the way the stories are crafted. 

The way Petrie includes June and Lewis as the books go on, but also has solo adventures with Ash is unique and allows readers to enjoy a variety of reading options. 

Overall a good series for action-thriller fans.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The First Nick Petrie Book?

‘The Drifter’ is the first book Nick Petrie ever published, and is the first in his Peter Ash series.

However, the books do not have to be read in order, but it is best to do so. 

Who Writes Like Nick Petrie?

Other authors who write like Nick Petrie include Lee Child, Robert Crais, David Baldacci, and Michael Connelly. Among others.

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Anna Davis