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 BardenSee more books from this Author
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.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus
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.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
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.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
The Next Right Thing can be funny and it can be dead serious.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
Often I didn’t know where he was going or why, but that’s my issue, not Barden’sRead Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
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.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
I found it hard to get a handle on the characters until midway through the book, and the plot relied too much on coincidences.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
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.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
It was a little slow at points, but other points made up for it.Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
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:Read Full Review of The Next Right Thing: A Novel
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