Clyde Barr #1
By: Erik Storey
Publication Date: 8/16/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
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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A special thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
With this exceptional entry, Erik Storey, a natural born storyteller, solidifies his place at the upper end of the literary crime thriller "rural noir" fiction genre, NOTHING SHORT OF DYING —Tenacious Clyde Barr dirt-under-your fingernails, kind of raw, is a character you want on your side; rugged, a tough-as-nails hero we can count on.
The gritty novel begins with a phone call in the Utah wilderness about a week after Clyde Barr had been released from prison. He had hoped for a storybook homecoming; however, in reality, this was not a dream life. He likes the wilderness and living off the grid, with no technology or frills.
Jen, his sister calls with a desperate SOS- she needed for him to come and get her. Throughout their childhood they had been through nights of their mom and dad fighting, mom’s boyfriends, drunks, loss of control, fighting, and abuse. Mostly hiding out to ride out the storm. The two of them against the world. They have secrets.
Jen explained in a whispered voice, for Clyde to hurry, he was going to kill her. She was to help, and then he would kill her. She reminded him he owed her. Before she could tell him where she was, Barr heard a male voice and the line went dead.
He was her flesh and blood. She had a knack for finding the wrong people, times, and places. He had left her to fend for herself, because he had been selfish. Now he owed her. This was his chance to make up for his mistakes; however, he needed a track to follow, a direction. Barr knows that nothing short of dying will stop him from saving her.
After their dad left, and their mom died, he did something stupid which almost got him killed. Jen did something worse that saved his life. If anyone ever found out what they had done, they would be serving life sentences. Jen kept quiet and he was free. They had been to hell and back. He would do whatever she asked.
Clyde begins his journey for his sister. She was in trouble again and most likely mixed up with somebody very dangerous. From Colorado, outdoorsman, Clyde Barr returns to the states after serving as a gun for hire in Africa and South American. After leaving Juarez prison, Clyde is camping and receives the phone call. He has no clue where she could be. He has had no contact with his family in years.
On his journey, he meets Allie Martin, a bartender. They both are equally stubborn. Soon a relationship develops as they travel deeper into the remote Colorado’s high country. From drug-ring politics, meth houses, and violence. However, despite the challenges, nothing will stop Barr from reaching his sister, and his strong loyalty to family and blood.
What he was dealing with, he had underestimated. In a matter of days, he was dealing with drug dealer gangs, feds, and a girl who started to mean something. So much, for the quiet life. Shortly thereafter, an intense race against time.
Storey, introduces strong female characters, in addition to Barr, for women readers; Allie and Jen, which proves riveting heroes in their own right. Jen is no poor victim. A gal who can handle herself. With a rich cast of characters, an action-packed tale of grit, emotion, desperation, and the resilience of family. From good to evil, the author explores both extremes.
New fans will anxiously be awaiting the next installment of pulp-action hero, Clyde Barr. Stark and gripping, with a strong sense of place in rural rich areas, and bold nuanced characterization reminiscent, of Ace Atkins, Lee Child (Jack Reacher), Craig Johnson, and CJ Box.
As the author mentions in an interview, “The book isn’t a cup of tea at all; it’s whiskey on the rocks.”
Indeed, it is like sipping and savoring the spirit. So grab a glass, pour yourself some whiskey, kick back in your leather man (or woman) chair, and do some taste testing and follow Clyde Bar on his adventure. Feel like kickin’ it old school? Have your whiskey in a tin cup in the great outdoors, a perfect side-kick for Nothing Short of Dying.
I am always fascinated with the inspiration behind books and authors. Thoroughly enjoyed the Interview with Erik Storey.
“I wanted to show off this side of the state,” he continues. “It’s not as visited as Denver. Western Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho — they’re kind of forgotten. People will fly into the cities, but because the population density is so small, they overlook the rest of the region. To a lot of people, the West is kind of an obscure concept. I want to promote this area with my books.
As Clyde’s quest takes him from small town to small town throughout Colorado — Riverside, Clifton, Palisade, De Beque, Rifle, Meeker, Mack, Leadville, Steamboat Springs — he unearths both the grandeur and grit of life in the high country and on the Western Slope.
What does define Clyde’s character, besides his tenacity and honor, is a deep distrust of cell phones, apps, computers and every other innovation that distracts from the simplicity of humanity’s bond with the land.
In addition to the advanced reading copy, also purchased the audio version, narrated by Jeremy Bobb (sexy, edgy, gritty), a perfect match for Storey’s smashing debut, for a full throttle performance ride.
Worthy of the hype, Nothing Short of Dying, equal parts rural country noir and contemporary Western, with a tough hero to stand up and cheer for, and not to be messed with. A rugged guy, the kind you would want to be alone in the wilderness with, for more than one reason.
Storey is an author to follow with many epic-adventures to follow. Sounds like we will visit Clyde next, as he wanders onto a Native American reservation, which mysteriously seems to have been taken over by an outlaw biker gang – while on the TV there’s report of terrorist activity in the area.
Can’t wait. Movie worthy. Awesome cover. Bring it on!
August Top Reads
“Nothing Short of Dying may be the year's best debut thriller. It leaps at you like a wolf, sinks its teeth in, and won't let go. Fans of Jack Reacher will love Clyde Barr, a dark, classic hero who can hold his own against any evil. The writing is fine and fast, and the high country of Colorado is painted in strokes of brilliance. I guarantee that readers of this first novel are going to clamor for more.”
—William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of Ordinary Grace and Heaven's Keep
“Very, very good. It’s all here. Reacher is keeping an eye on this guy. In the rear-view mirror for now, but that’s closer than most.”
—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Make Me and other books in the Jack Reacher series
“Nothing Short of Dying contains furious, non-stop action that paints the mountains and gorges of Western Colorado red with blood. Clyde Barr—a modern-day mountain man crossed with ex-mercenary—is not a man to be messed with.”
—C.J. Box, New York Times bestselling author of Badlands and Off the Grid
“Immensely enjoyable…[Clyde is] a Grail Knight in disguise, rescuing the good and punishing the bad…Encounters with bad guys are appropriately, cinematically violent, and the rich, sensory descriptions enhance a well-told story. And the bartender does, too. She says she wants to see ‘how the Clyde Barr movie ends.’ So do we.”
“Nothing Short of Dying takes you into the underbelly of the American West where some things haven’t changed since the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Erik Storey’s main character, Clyde Barr, is the quintessential man’s man, a modern version of every Wild West cowboy, sheriff, and drifter you’ve ever admired in books and film. Storey captures the American landscape in beautifully written passages that contrast starkly with the ugliness of some very bad hombres. The novel features great action scenes, fast pacing, and well-drawn characters, with sharp and blunt dialogue that always rings true.”
—Nelson Demille, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lion’s Game and Nightfall
“A singular new talent! Storey's Nothing Short of Dying is nothing short of brilliant. It grabs you from page one and simply doesn't let go. This man is a born storyteller!”
—Jeffery Deaver, #1 international bestselling author of The Bone Collector and The Coffin Dancer
“Grandly cinematic…What makes Clyde Barr great isn’t just that he’s haunted, driven, and lethal, but that he’s paired with a strong, independent, and capable woman who refuses to be a victim—Allie Martin is exactly my kind of gal. Together, they make a modern-day ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ out for their own kind of justice.”
—Taylor Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist
“A thrill ride—Erik Storey's Nothing Short of Dying hits the ground running. Clyde Barr isn't the usual protagonist, he's a man who has been knocked down but keeps getting back up with a vengeance, so buckle up and hang on because you're in for one hell of a read.”
—Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire Mysteries, basis of the Netflix drama Longmire
“Jack Reacher fans will delight in meeting the shrewd loner Clyde Barr, but it's his fearless companion Allie who will sass her way into readers’ hearts. Highly recommended!”
—Kira Peikoff, author of Living Proof and No Time to Die
“Nothing short of thrilling…Erik Story is a gene splice of Lee Child and Joe Lansdale. In this modern-day gunslinger classic everyone is a bad guy and Clyde Barr is the baddest of them all.”
—Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Contagious and Alive
“Gritty…authentic…a terrific page-turner.”
—Howard Roughan, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Truth or Die and Honeymoon, and author of The Up and Comer
“Nothing Short of Dying is a relentless thrill ride that hurtles the reader into dark and interesting places. Erik Storey's somebody to watch...and read.”
—Robert Ferrigno, New York Times bestselling author of The Horse Latitudes and Prayers for the Assassin
“Pretty damn good … Storey doesn’t pull any punches with his crisp, in-your-face dialogue and vivid action, and neither does his hero. Clyde’s sense of commitment to his sister is both emotional and inspirational as he confronts seemingly impossible odds. Jack Reacher would be proud.”
“A sweaty thriller by a first-time novelist who really knows how to handle himself in these thickets…Tough-as-they-come hero Barr heads for the Colorado backcountry, where the plot really takes off. Storey knows and loves this rugged territory.”
—New York Times Book Review
“A stunning, action-packed novel that is perfectly paced and beautifully written … I loved everything about this book …Storey is one of the hottest new authors in a genre that has badly needed an infusion of young talent.”
—The Real Book Spy
About the Author
(c ) Samantha Storey
Erik Storey is a former ranch hand, wilderness guide, dogsled musher, hunter, bartender and locksmith, and Nothing Short of Dying is his first novel.
Erik’s short fiction has been published by such online magazines as Waving Hands Review, Shotgun Honey, Literary Erosion and Spinetingler.
Born in the wilds of Wyoming and raised in the high deserts of Colorado, Erik spent a large part of his childhood summering in remote cabins and reading adventure stories under the light of lamps and candles – stories from such writers as Jack London, Louis L’Amour, Raymond Chandler and H. Rider Haggard.
Erik lives with his family in Rangely, Colorado. Read More