Third Wheel by Richard R. Becker
Brady Wilks wished for a new life with a real family in the pre-boomtown years of Las Vegas, 1982. Instead, he finds himself in a precarious situation, struggling to belong and find his identity.
Outcast as a teenage transplant from the Midwest and estranged at home, Brady forges a brotherly bond with an older neighbor, Mick, and his friends. But when Mick invites a new kid into the pack, Brady soon discovers the choices they make have consequences that threaten the lives of those he cares about.
Emotionally driven and raw, Third Wheel is a triumphant new novel by Richard R. Becker, and Brady Wilks is a remarkable transformative underdog. Described as an exhilarating debut, Third Wheel has received the Literary Titan Good Book Award and earned a finalist award in the 2023 Global Book Awards.
The five-time award-winning author continues to receive high praise and interest from a growing community of readers who follow his work. Third Wheel broke into top 100 Amazon bestsellers in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction in October.
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Seattle Book Review – 5 Stars
Richard R. Becker’s Third Wheel is about a fourteen-year-old boy who becomes involved with a group of notorious teenagers and their wild, perilous exploits in a crime-ridden town. Brady Wilks realizes that life with his mother and stepfather is not as great as he expected after leaving his grandparents and coming to Las Vegas. Though he finds camaraderie and a feeling of belonging with a new group of friends, he is compelled to confront his morals and act as the voice of reason when they encounter extremely risky situations. Meanwhile, he enjoys his fascination with drugs, guns, and an older girl that’s way above his league. Is Brady too far gone or can he be saved from his bad company?
I appreciated how the backstories are gradually exposed as the narrative weaves through a busy plot with several unexpected turns. Brady is seen as someone who rarely backs down from a fight or a challenge, even when it comes to dating someone older than him. Nonetheless, his self-doubt and need to have friends get him into more trouble than he can handle on his own. This is when his age shows, and he becomes the broken, mistreated child that the reader can’t help but sympathize with.
Another amazing part of the novel is how real and lifelike the interactions and characters are. The everyday rituals and actions of the teens remind me of my teenage days, especially when they play and taunt one other. For example, Brady is teased for having a girlfriend, which he denies passionately, in a notable scene.
The lighthearted themes are seamlessly mixed with some darker, more mature themes: murder, drug dealing, self-harm, and betrayal. Furthermore, there is a sense of danger in the air, with the chance of one especially wild character being too much for the group of friends to manage, or the drug cartels putting an end to the teenager’s meddling in an adult game.
Third Wheel provides the reader with both humorous and nostalgic memories as well as a seriously suspenseful and exhilarating experience that transports the reader to 1980s, culturally diverse Las Vegas. The book is a wonderful narrative in every way, from lyrical language to impeccable characterization and an addictive series of events. Anyone who saw me reading the book would assume I was entirely absorbed by it since I sat like I was literally being drawn in by the text, leaning forward and forgetting to sit straight. If you want a similarly engaging experience, you should read this book. I strongly hope that Richard R. Becker continues to write novels after creating this brilliant, mind-blowing debut novel that ends with a big surprise.~ Foluso Falaye, Seattle Book Review
About the Author:
Richard R. Becker is an award-winning, best-selling American author. His debut collection of literary fiction and psychological thrillers began as a project to write one story a week for 50 weeks. It broke into the top 100 literary short story collections on Amazon for three consecutive months. It also won first place in the ABR Book Excellence Awards, Spring 2022 BookFest Awards, 2023 Book Excellence Awards, and was a finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards. His debut novel was released August 21, 2023 to overwhelmingly positive reviews.