The Next Right Thing by Dan Barden
A Novel

42%

11 Critic Reviews

Barden makes the addiction cycle as believable and painfully raw as possible, and as such his characters aren't necessarily likeable.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

Southern California home builder extraordinaire Randy Chalmers has to admit he’d be dead or in prison were it not for his best friend, lawyer, and Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Terry Elias. A former police officer, Randy narrowly escaped being an evening news highlight during years ravaged by anger and alcohol. Thanks to Terry’s coaching and an endless stream of caffeine-fueled AA meetings, Randy’s been off the booze for eight years, has a successful new career, and is thriving in a healthy relationship with his vegan yoga-instructor girlfriend. All is well . . . until sponsor Terry, himself supposedly sober for fifteen years, is found dead of a heroin overdose.
 
How could Terry, who had dragged so many others from the edge, jump off himself? Convinced that something (or someone) must have pushed him, Randy is soon off on a dry-drunk quest for answers—and possibly revenge. He discovers a trail of dirty secrets that lead to missing persons, shady real estate deals, hydroponic pot farms, and Internet pornography. When his suspicions ultimately connect Terry’s death to the activities of a recently appointed Superior Court judge—who just happens to be dating Randy’s ex-wife—Randy has to ask himself: Is he really on to something or just suffering from grief and paranoia? Will his increasingly frenzied behavior ruin his current relationship and his chances of regaining custody of his daughter? Will he destroy the life that he has worked so hard to achieve? Will he reach for a drink?
 
The Next Right Thing is a hilarious and harrowing combination of thriller and recovery tale, equal parts hard-earned wisdom and old-fashioned suspense.

 

About Dan Barden

See more books from this Author
Dan Barden is also the author of John Wayne: A Novel. A native of Southern California, he teaches at Butler University and lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Elizabeth Houghton Barden, owner of Big Hat Books & Arts.
 
Published March 6, 2012 by The Dial Press. 305 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Next Right Thing
All: 11 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus' Reviews on Jan 15 2012

The multitude of threads Randy follows bog down the story somewhat, especially because little distinguishes the various bad guys—one SoCal goon is as craven and greedy as any other.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Patrick Anderson on Mar 04 2012

Barden offers a grim picture of addiction but one that rings true, and he makes clear that he considers AA the last best hope for millions of desperate people.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Publishers' Weekly on Apr 09 2012

Barden makes the addiction cycle as believable and painfully raw as possible, and as such his characters aren't necessarily likeable.

Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Annenberg Digital News

Below average
Reviewed by Leslie Velez on Mar 18 2012

None of the secondary players were rendered with a tremendous amount of depth, though, and it is difficult to say whether or not this was deliberate on Barden’s part; as foil-y as they are to Randy and the rest of the plot, we never do know them very well. 

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Three Guys One Book

Excellent
Reviewed by Paul on Oct 25 2011

The Next Right Thing can be funny and it can be dead serious.

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IBJ

Below average
Reviewed by Lou Harry on Mar 17 2012

Often I didn’t know where he was going or why, but that’s my issue, not Barden’s

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Punchnels

Excellent
Reviewed by Ken Honeywell

The novel’s great strength is the way it makes us see the inherent unpredictability of people with addictive personalities and the necessity of AA.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Below average
Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen

I found it hard to get a handle on the characters until midway through the book, and the plot relied too much on coincidences.

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BookPage

Below average
Reviewed by Rebecca Stropoli

Told in both present time and a series of flashbacks, the plot moves swiftly and keeps the reader interested in the outcome, even as the sometimes corny dialogue may lead to an eye-roll or two.

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Author Jess

Below average
Reviewed by Jessica L. Buike on Feb 29 2012

 It was a little slow at points, but other points made up for it. 

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Addiction Dirkh

Below average
Reviewed by Dirk Hanson on Feb 02 2012

However, the book is marred by the kind of bewildering rumination that can result when a soap opera full of characters is at full boil:

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Reader Rating for The Next Right Thing
82%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 85 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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