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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 ...
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 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 onto 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.
“Everything you could hope for from a novel: The Next Right Thing is suspenseful, hilarious, angry—above all, wildly original. I only wish I’d written it myself.”—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
“Dan Barden’s The Next Right Thing is The Long Goodbye in rehab. It’s fierce and funny and absolutely worthy of its predecessors—like them, Barden’s hard-boiled tale is really an inquiry into male love and grief, and the state of the American heart.”—Jonathan Lethem
“The Next Right Thing has humanity, humor, and insight to burn. Dan Barden takes the clay of the California hard-boiled novel and shapes it into something new.”—George Pelecanos
"An extremely engaging novel…Dan Barden shows us how it's always the people who know us best – the ones whose love (and hatred) is therefore the purest – who have the power to save us.” – Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins
“Randy Chalmers is an American literary hero for our time: a recovering drunk with a big, broken heart and an anger problem. I adore him. In The Next Right Thing, Dan Barden captures exactly the pitiless, irreverent love that keeps drunks sober.” - Michelle Huneven, National Book Critics Circle Finalist author of Round Rock and Blame
"Dan Barden's one hell of a writer." – Andrew Vachss
“[An] engaging debut…[Contains] a healthy amount of verve and black comedy…succeeds on the emotional and physical muscle of its narrator”—Kirkus
“Barden vividly renders the culture of Alcoholics Anonymous and the flawed souls who depend on it to stay sane and alive.”—Booklist
“[R]ings true…As I put the book down, I wondered whether Barden had a friend whose death inspired those [final] haunting paragraphs. It feels that real.”—The Washington Post
“Dan Barden's new novel, The Next Right Thing, is a rare beast: a detective story where the central mystery turns out not to be the most important thing going on. Incidentally, and perhaps even rarer, it's also a detective story that makes you wonder if you ought to take up construction and interior design.”—The Atlantic
“[M]ost unexpected… a refreshingly sordid look at sobriety—perhaps because the action is more engaging than the sinless serenity that drives most tales about life after active addiction. As Barden’s damaged characters curse and fight their way through the hills of tony Laguna Beach and the grittier streets of urban Santa Ana, they defy any expectations that sobriety translates into saintliness. … [A] hell of a lot more provocative than the average hardboiled crime novel”—TheFix.com
"... reasonably serious study of male companionship, what it takes to fly straight and the ultimate inscrutability of other people." —The New York Times
"Barden uses the conventions of noir perfectly, giving the audience the specific pleasures it was seeking while illuminating truths about recovery." —The Weekly Standard
Excerpted from The Next Right Thing by Dan Barden Copyright © 2012 by Dan Barden. Excerpted by permission of The Dial Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted March 29, 2012
This novel gripped me from the first page. I liked that it oscillates between genres; a bit of mystery coupled with some elements of the noir genre on a AA meeting background. I really enjoyed it. Dan Barden did a wonderful job at creating believable characters. The relationship between Randy, recovering alcoholic and ex-cop, and his teenage daughter Crash was beautiful. All the characters had something to bring to the story and I was left with a very satisfying ending and an answer to my questions.
I honestly couldn't put this book down! I HAD to find out what had happened to Randy's sponsor. I would recommend that book to anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2012
While put off by the book's implausible characters, I was intrigued enough by the plot to
read to the end. Randy, a recovering alcoholic, is determined to find why a close friend,
also an ex-drunk, has died of an overdose after years of being sober. The geographic setting
is Southern California, and the author depicts the area and life there very well.
But the social setting, Alcoholics Anonymous, is portrayed with a nagging
dissonance: the characters are immersed in it, praise it, and seem to regard it as a
necessary force in their existence. Yet they behave as though it has had no influence on
their lives. They punch each other when they are not hugging; have dramatic relationships;
and some are even involved in the drug trade.
Having known people in AA, and professionals working in the field of recovery, I
think its almost cynical portrayal is unfortunate and not believable. It distracts from the
story as much as would describing Southern California with Seattle's weather.
The characters themselves are interesting but not really believable. The protagonist
has gone from being a violent policeman to a highly successful house designer. This curious
transition in talents is not explained. A mafiosa is entirely reconciled to his son based on
one confessional meeting. Years of estrangement suddenly disappear with no apparent lingering
suspicion. A recovering alcoholic with years of sobriety goes back to drink when he finds no
fulfillment in a long sought dream. What was he learning in AA all that time? I simply did
not think the characters' motivations and actions made any sense.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2012
Posted April 21, 2012
This was a bit of a tough read, but worth the effort, as the insights are good and the emotions are portrayed heartbreakingly realisticallyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 22, 2012
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Posted March 20, 2012
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Posted April 19, 2012
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