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Hailed by the bestselling writer William Kent Krueger as “the year’s best thriller debut,” this rollercoaster read features a Jack Reacher-like drifter protagonist with lethal skills whose mission to rescue his abducted sister pits him against a meth kingpin seeking to control all the trade in the Western United States.
Sixteen years. That’s how long Clyde Barr has been away from Colorado’s thick forests, alpine deserts, and craggy peaks, running from a past filled with haunting memories. But now he’s back, having roamed across three continents as a hunter, adventurer, soldier of fortune, and most recently, unjustly imprisoned convict. And once again, his past is reaching out to claim him.
By the light of a flickering campfire, Clyde received a frantic phone call for help from Jen, the youngest of his three older sisters. Then the line goes dead. Clyde doesn’t know how much time he has. He doesn’t know where Jen is located. He doesn’t even know who has her. All he knows is that nothing short of dying will stop him from saving her.
Tagging along with Clyde on this strange, desperate, against-all-odds rescue mission is a young woman named Allie whose motivations for hurtling into harm’s way are fascinatingly complex. As the duo races against the clock, it is Allie who gets Clyde to see what he has become and what he can be.
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Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey is a 2016 Scribner publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is an amazing debut novel by Erik Storey!
Clyde Barr gets a frantic phone call from his sister, Jen, obviously in distress and in deep trouble. She needs his help and Clyde will do ‘nothing short of dying’ to save her.
Clyde is one of the most interesting protagonists to come along in crime fiction in a while. As the story begins, Clyde has just been released from prison, but don't let that fool you. He has a code of honor he lives by, and helping people in need happens to be his specialty, but it is especially important when it comes to Jen, the sister he shares a very close bond with.
So, leaving his peaceful Utah sanctuary, he heads to the rugged Colorado back country in search of Jen, determined to bring her home safe and sound. From this point on, the story takes on an adventuresome quality as Clyde meets a woman who can help him find Jen and insists on coming along with him.
The terrain they must travel over is rough, off the grid, with no technological help available. They must survive in a minimalist sort of way, hunting for food, showering in the rain, sleeping in tents, all while living on the edge of extreme danger from the men who are holding Jen hostage.
As the story unfolds, Clyde relates to the reader, via a first person narrative, his relationship with his sister and why they are so close despite, or because of, their turbulent upbringing. Clyde has never been able to stabilize, having spent significant time in Africa, then in prison, and is a bit of a loner/drifter. I get the idea he’s like a poor man’s ‘Jack Reacher’ and that his adventures are only just beginning. I predict the return of Clyde Barr and I rather doubt he will stay in one place for too long, and will always find a battle to fight on behalf of those unable to fight for themselves.
Overall, this is a gritty thriller, absorbing, suspenseful, fast paced and a multi-layered action-adventure, with compelling characters, emotional twists, and poignant, bittersweet coda.
Clyde learns a few life lessons along the way, that will most assuredly aide him in his quest to live in the moment and take life as it comes.
For a debut novel, this one is most impressive. Well written, perfectly paced, with excellent, often profound dialogue, constructed in a way that will appeal to a wide range of readers, from adventure lovers to the crime drama enthusiast.
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