Friday, November 17, 2023

Today's read... Third Wheel by Richard R Becker

Today's read takes a more serious turn and explores the drug and weapon culture of the Las Vegas suburbs during the early 1980s. I haven't hit a harsher novel in awhile and am curious how this one deals with the tough themes. It has been getting great reviews and even won a few prizes. So, I'm expecting it will ring true and hit hard.

Let's take a peek and find out, shall we?

by Richard R Becker
Copywrite, Ink
Coming of Age
325 pages

Las Vegas, 1982. Brady Wilks, a teenage transplant from the Midwest, navigates life in the dusty suburban outskirts of an aberrant 24-hour town built by the Mob. Outcast as a newcomer, Brady forges a brotherly bond with an older teenage neighbor, Mick, and his friend, Brett. But when Brett unexpectedly moves away, Mick invites a new kid into their pack, squeezing out the last remnants of their childhood in favor of a new world laced with cartel-supplied drugs and the deal of a lifetime.
Third Wheel is a powerful novel about belonging, betrayal, and breaking away from paths laid out by others, even when it means grasping at an uncertain future. It is the story of a boy trying to find his identity without the benefit of a role model by taking chances on random and fragile relationships forged in the predawn hours of a future boomtown. Desolate and gritty, Third Wheel is a triumphant debut novel, and Brady Wilks is remarkable as a transformative protagonist. Four-time award-winning author Richard R. Becker shares his unique insight into the human condition.


Without the slightest sign of a sugar-coating, this read dives deep a difficult situation and leaves the weight hanging long after the book is closed.

Brady has managed to somewhat find a place for himself in a new home in Las Vegas after moving for a 'temporary' stay with his grandmother from the Midwest. While he does have a friend or two, games and fun have long turned into a harsher life surrounding drugs. Brady does his best to fit in, while dealing with a home life, which has nothing to do with family. Forced to make decisions he can't even begin to battle, Brady does his best to handle life.

While set in the 1980's, this is an easy read to connect with...although it's not an 'easy' read. Brady's life is harsh as he not only misses any resemblance of what can be called a family, but instead, faces a mother, who could care less and is unkind at best. The friendships he grasps at around him hit gritty from the very first page as the drug connections and dangerous relationships immediately unfold. There's violence, drug use, and death, and it weaves together in a way, which pulls at the heartstrings and cuts deep.

The writer knows how to bring everything across with authenticity as each scene grabs and hits home. I found Brady a bit difficult to embrace, at first, but his sharp edges slide right in with the situation. Of course, there are lighter moments surrounding a love interest and teenage nonsense, but the darkness of a world, where teens grow up quick, never releases its grip. 

Mature young adult audiences will find food for thought, and it does offer a good basis for more serious discussions. But it's not a light read and packs more than a little bite. 

And here he is...

Richard R. Becker is the award-winning, best-selling American author of 50 States and its companion, Ten Threads. His debut collection of short stories won first place in the Spring 2022 BookFest Awards; 2023 Book Excellence Awards for short stories; and ABR Book Excellence Awards for literary fiction, psychological thrillers, and short stories. It was also named a finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards. Third Wheel is his first novel. He is married and lives in Las Vegas. He invites you to visit him at

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