Review #27: The Next Right Thing by Dan Barden

17 Apr

The book jacket bills this as a mystery starring Randy Chalmers, who investigates the shady circumstances surrounding his AA sponsor Terry’s death and uncovers a ring of pot dealers, shady recovery houses, pornography and love children. Sounds like a standard fun mystery/thriller about an ex-cop seeking justice, right? Only sort of. This book was not quite as advertised – it reads like a story primarily about recovery, with a mystery B plot.

Randy works his network of friends and acquaintances (and enemies) made through AA to slowly figure out the truth about Terry’s life, and death.  By using AA as Randy’s exclusive support network, Barden tells some really affecting stories about the recovery process. Each person in Randy’s network recovered (or didn’t) in their own way.  New member Troy, son of a famous mobster, needs constant watching and guidance while Emma, the former reality TV star, needs to work through her issues on her own – with someone there to protect her as needed. Some people turned their recovery into a new, profitable line of business; while others found that recovery could only do so much in salvaging their sad lives.

But I was looking for a true, challenging mystery and the mystery wasn’t particularly satisfying.  As Randy moves closer to the truth, we begin to realize that he knew significantly less about his sponsor’s life than he thought. This is devastating to Randy, who blames himself for not being able to save Terry.  And also to me, who harbored a secret optimism that the mystery would unravel so that Randy and Terry’s sponsor relationship would remain pure.

Despite the light tone and the frequent comic relief, some of the plot lines are truly disheartening, but probably realistic, in the way they resolve. While the mystery is sub-par, it’s worth a read for an interesting look at the very complicated process of recovery.


2 Responses to “Review #27: The Next Right Thing by Dan Barden”


  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #27: The Next Right Thing by Dan Barden « Cannonball Read IV - April 17, 2012

    […] Additional thoughts after the jump! Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookEmailDiggStumbleUpon Posted by HelloKatieO in 2 stars – an ok book and tagged AA, alcoholics anonymous, book reviews, books, CBR4, Crime, dan barden, hellokatieo, mystery, reviews, the next right thing […]

  2. Book Review #30: Spin by Catherine McKenzie « Book It. - April 30, 2012

    […] reading The Next Right Thing, which presented a much more raw, real story of recovery, the glamorous gloss on the rehab felt […]

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