cover image The Next Right Thing

The Next Right Thing

Dan Barden. Dial, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-34340-4

In Barden's new novel (after John Wayne), Laguna Beach, Calif. cop-turned-homebuilder Randy Chalmers knows he owes his sobriety to his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor Terry Elias. But when Terry is found dead from a heroin overdose in a sleazy hotel room, Randy risks everything for answers in this hard-hitting tale of revenge and redemption. Clean for 15 years, Terry was a legend at AA, taking the newly sober under his wing. He guided Randy%E2%80%94who was thrown off the force for nearly beating a man to death %E2%80%94through his anger issues and helped him stay clean for eight years. But as Randy discovers, Terry wasn't as saintly as he appeared. Working off tips from fellow AA member Wade, Randy retraces Terry's last days. Refusing to believe that Terry would be caught up in drugs, Randy, with his single-minded determination to preserve Terry's memory, alienates those around him as he sinks back into old%E2%80%94and violent%E2%80%94habits. As his relationships with his girlfriend and his daughter become strained, and bodies start turning up, Randy must decide the price he's willing to pay to uncover the truth. Barden makes the addiction cycle as believable and painfully raw as possible, and as such his characters aren't necessarily likeable. But they ring true nonetheless. (Mar.)