Clyde Barr is the latest action hero to arrive in Erik Storey’s debut novel, Nothing Short of Dying. Cut out of the same cloth as characters like Jack Reacher, Dewey Andreas and Pike Logan, the character Barr most reminds me of is The Executioner: Mack Bolan. Bolan was a one-man wrecking crew. A decorated Vietnam war vet who returns home to bury most of his family. When he discovers the mob is to blame, he becomes vengeance personified as he goes about dismantling them.
Clyde Barr shares a lot of those traits. Ex-military, soldier of fortune and recent graduate of a Mexican prison. All he wants is to disappear into the mountains and live off the land. A desperate phone call from his youngest sister, whom he shared a childhood that was beyond brutal, pulls him back towards civilization and “nothing short of dying” will prevent him from keeping his promise to come for her.
Storey does a good job of developing a character with a lot of rough edges and a believable amount of competency paired with a slightly excessive ability to absorb punishment. The action scenes are crisp, exciting and fast-paced. Barr is willing, if sometimes reluctant, to use people around him to assist in rescuing his sister. Most notable among these are Allie, the bartender he tries to help and ends up putting in harm’s way and Zeke, his former cellmate who is as amoral and ruthless as they come.
Storey doesn’t sugarcoat the consequences and none of Barr’s plans comes off without a hitch. The book lacks some of the polish of stories from other thriller writers, particularly when it comes to dialogue, but it is a very strong debut. Storey convincingly paints the rugged Colorado landscape along with plenty of action and a strong, flawed protagonist who looks like he has more adventures in front of him. I suspect subsequent entries in this series will get even better and I’m looking forward to them. Recommended read.
I listened to the audio version of this book narrated by Jeremy Bobb. Bobb does a good job with the narration capturing the excitement of the action along with the rough edges of the characters, particularly Barr and Zeke. The narration nicely complements the story.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book for review.
Description: 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 receives a frantic phone call from his sister Jen. No sooner has she pleaded with him to come rescue her than the line goes dead. Clyde doesn’t know how much time he has, or where Jen is located, or even who has her. All he knows is that nothing short of dying will stop him from saving her.
Joining Clyde in his against-all-odds quest is a young woman named Allie whose motivations for running this gauntlet 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 still be.
Vivid with the hues and scents of Colorado’s backcountry, and thought-provoking in its exploration of how past, present, and future collide to test resolve, Nothing Short of Dying is, above all, a propulsive, action-driven race against the clock.