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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

A Promise to Kill

Clyde Barr #2 ISBN: 978-150112418

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date: 8/15/2017

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC) From the author dubbed by Jeffery Deaver “a born storyteller” whose first novel Nothing Short of Dying was hailed as “exceptional,” “a rollercoaster read,” and “adrenaline-fueled” by publications on both sides of the Atlantic, this is Erik Storey’s next entry in the Clyde Barr series, a locomotive-paced brawler that has its hero teaming with besieged members of a Native American reservation to thwart outlaw bikers who are putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.

Clyde Barr, the drifter with lethal skills, is alone again, wandering the highways of the American West in search of something to believe in. As summer turns to autumn, he trades his car for a horse and heads for the mountains, planning to clear his head and regain his edge with some hunting. But when he runs across an elderly sick man—a Ute Indian from a nearby reservation—Clyde’s dream of solitude is quickly dashed.

On the reservation, Clyde finds the old man’s daughter, Lawana, and grandson, Taylor, as well as a group of menacing bikers called Reapers running wild in the economically depressed, half-abandoned village. Gripped by the desire to do good in a hard world, Clyde offers to stay on Lawana’s ranch to help out until her father is released from the hospital. He controls himself around the bikers, even when he sees them harass a few Native American women—but when the Reapers attack a local boy Clyde has to do something. As tensions rise between the locals and the Reapers, Clyde’s efforts to protect the reservation become a fight for his, Lawana’s, and Taylor’s lives. And then the stakes ratchet up even more.

In the remote Utah desert, surrounded by enemies, with no law enforcement presence, and with communication effectively cut off, Clyde must find a way to save his new friends, defeat the gang, and, hopefully, escape with his own skin intact. A Promise to Kill is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, pushing its no-hold-barred hero to new levels of improvisation and bare-knuckled blunt force.


My Review

Erik Storey returns following his debut hit, Nothing Short of Dying (2016)—where the talented new author introduced readers and new fans to the unlikely hero, Clyde Barr.

In this highly anticipated follow-up, A PROMISE TO KILL, Barr returns, better than ever!

An action-packed, intense, adventure where life is anything but simple for Barr. Trouble seems to find Barr no matter how many times life attempts to pull him down. He comes up swinging.

Storey has created an edgy tough main character with strong morals and honor . . . and a heart of gold.

Men and women readers alike will be drawn to the setting and this strong and intriguing character. I actually like him better than Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

As we pick up from the last book (can be read as a standalone); however, would recommend reading the first book to get the proper intro into this complex character. However, we do learn a bit more about Clyde in this installment.

Traveling across Utah, with a new mare and a reluctant mule named Bob, Barr spots an old man’s truck in the ditch. He of course stops to assist. His heart. His cell is dead. He needs to get him to a hospital.

He hops into the truck and takes him to the hospital. An old Ute from the nearby Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. They connect. Heart problems. Myocardial infarction. He would be dead without Clyde Barr.

Lawana and her son. The three of them – grandfather, daughter, Lawana and grandson, fifteen-year-old- Taylor all lived at the family ranch. They needed Barr’s help. He offered.

He had worked on a lot of ranches and he, of course, did not tell them all the work and places he had been. Clyde likes this woman and family.

Barr settles into a routine on the ranch. . . until the Reapers. An outlaw bikers club. All white. He tries to be good, but . . .

These men were full of menace. The Reapers called him a "bumpkin" and told him to go play with the Indians. He was threatened and warned. Thousands of lives were at risk.

Taylor’s dad had died in Afghanistan, as an army captain. He was going to help run the ranch while his mom ran the local clinic. He died trying to save his men. Soon Taylor had confidence in him. He looked up to Barr. However, Barr had some proving to do to earn his mother’s trust.

He wants to protect the reservation and fight for those he cares about.

Barr soon learns that the family name was a corruption of the name of their great war chief ancestor, Nicaagat. He’d let his warriors in one of the last actions against the US government, right before his people were forced out of the mountains of Colorado and into the alkali desert of Utah.

The memories surface. His rough childhood, the wars he had fought in the third world, and his time behind bars because of a mix-up between the Mexican government and the cartels, and the people he loved and lost along the way. One who was especially important.

He thought he had left all the chaos behind when he came back to the States more than a year ago. But apparently, he was mistaken.

Whatever tranquility he had felt when he first entered town had entirely disappeared. This was the kind of thing Barr had tried to avoid since coming back, after being released from prison. However, his strong sense of protecting the underdog had a way of bringing him to the center of trouble.

Will Clyde ever go back to normal or will he be broken? Will the boy, the grandfather and the daughter want to him to stay around? Would he ever belong? He wasn’t Ute. He was an outsider.

Barr liked to live on the edge. He missed it. He loved it here. Like a wild animal. The most beautiful, smartest, and the toughest woman he had ever met. He liked this family. Was it time for him to move on?

. . . Does Lawana deserve more than he can offer? Does Barr need to be out there in the wilderness?

. . . “Somewhere along the way, the empty spaces became part of who I am. It’s where I’m at my best.”

WOW, a powerful story. Well written with in-depth research, Storey knows the great outdoors and the wilderness, reflective throughout the novel. His style strongly reminds me of Charles Martin (another favorite author), The Mountain Between Us and Water from My Heart.

Both talented authors possess their own unique individual style; however, they both write stories about the rugged great outdoors and strong tough characters (men) who connect with equally strong dynamic women and children.

There is always a memorable story which creates a nice balance. A fated encounter, strong bonds, connection, a tug and pull, heartstrings, choices, and consequences.

Also for fans of John Hart (another favorite), C.J. Box, Lee Child, Ace Atkins, William Kent Krueger, and Craig Johnson.

Highly recommend this gripping and suspenseful series and this gifted newfound master storyteller. Can’t wait to see what’s next for Clyde.

A special thank you to Scribner, NetGalley and the author for an early reading copy.

I had the opportunity to read this incredible book a few months ago; however, between my dad’s illness, death, funeral, executor of his estate, and out of town for two months - my apologies for the delay in posting my review.

I also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Pete Simonelli for an entertaining performance. Move A PROMISE TO KILL to the top of your list. Movie-worthy!

Review Links:

* * * * * * On a personal note: Ironically, writing this review in the middle of Hurricane IRMA, if the power stays on until I can complete. Having evacuated my waterfront hi-rise apartment (top floor) in South Florida on Thurs with a brutal 20 hr. brutal gridlock bumper to bumper car ride on Florida turnpike. (should have taken 4 hrs).

While escaping to North Central Florida (no way to get to Atlanta or NC as originally planned-how far do you go to escape this nightmare) with millions of people on the road, to wait out the storm in a hotel away from the water. Then slammed here at this location last evening from this monster storm.

Stuck here at the hotel Mon-Thurs, and not allowed to return to South Florida due to roads, bridge inspections, flooding, falling powerlines, surges, curfews, power outages (6 million FL), no gas stations open, restaurants, or food. I need Clyde Barr to the rescue. (Darn, just lost power at this location).

The aftermath: I have seen the horrible photos of the interior of my apartment and all the water and wind damage, I must tackle, upon return). Hope we can climb our way back from the wreckage. One thankful note: I no longer reside in the Florida Keys where I lived and worked for several years. One place I would not want to be during this storm.

Update: 9 days and counting without internet (however, at least we have power).



Advance Praise

"Nail-biting . . . Readers will have a hard time putting this thriller down." Publishers Weekly

“One of the best thrillers of the year . . . Extraordinarily well-written and well-crafted, A Promise To Kill is exciting, entertaining, plausible, realistic, and moves along flawlessly . . . This is a truly great thriller—so full of nail-biting suspense and surprises and fast-paced action that it actually is difficult to put down. Erik Story is not just a really good writer—he’s a great one.” Washington Times "[Features] a fantasy figure of immortal appeal: the loner who rides into a town in trouble, rescues the folks by pulverizing the troublemakers, and leaves, much to the disappointment of the townsfolk . . . Entertaining . . . especially for those come for the action." —Booklist "One of the summer's best mystery novels . . . A Sam Peckinpah via Peter Fonda motorcycle western, but with drones . . . [Storey] gives a high-country nod to the influence of legendary Florida mystery writer John D. MacDonald." —Outside magazine "If you loved Erik Storey's debut novel Nothing Short of Dying as much as I did, then you're already hooked on this author, and it won't take much to convince you to read A Promise to Kill. Clyde Barr, Storey's iconic American hero/drifter, is saddled up and back. Barr never looks for trouble, but trouble is all around him in the rough country he travels, and Barr does not ride away from trouble—or evil. A Promise to Kill promises intense, edge-of-the-seat excitement to anyone who picks it up." Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestselling author of The Lion's Game and Nightfall "Not just good but great. A Promise to Kill delivers on the promise of Story’s debut novel by showing protagonist Clyde Barr confronting even more insurmountable odds, and making the bad guys wish they’d stayed home. The Clyde Barr thrillers are my favorites, and Erik Storey is my favorite thriller writer. There's not even a close second." Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike and Cry Father and coauthor of New York Times Editors’ Choice memoir Satan Is Real "Clyde Barr's life is like being in one of those cities with no left turns, when no matter how many times you turn right, you can't get away. He's a fascinating character, and Erik Storey is coming up fast as a writer. He keeps the story moving, and keeps you caring. " James Sallis, Hammet Award-winning author of Drive (basis of the Cannes-winning film), The Killer Is Dying, and the Lew Griffin Series “I loved it! I couldn’t stop turning the pages. You don't read this book so much as you hold on and try to keep up. Clyde Barr is so tough I'm honestly a little afraid of Erik Storey right now." Rob Hart, author of New Yorked, City of Rose, South Village and The Woman from Prague “I devoured A Promise to Kill in one sitting. It takes off at escape velocity and never relents. Do not mess with Clyde Barr.” Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author of China Lake, Phantom Instinct, and The Shadow Tracer “The novel’s hero, Clyde Barr, is a throwback to Billy Jack or Jan Michael Vincent in the 1980 classic Defiance, a lone wolf who roams from town to town, settling temporarily where he is most needed. This time it’s an Indian reservation overrun by outlaw bikers, and Storey proves masterful at keeping the pages turning. Barr is a man who places morals over money, and honor above might; one who runs toward trouble, forever committed to fighting the good fight—the kind of man all little boys dream of being.” Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation, December Boys and Give Up the Dead


Nothing Short of Dying

Clyde Barr #1


“A nerve wracking, nail biting quest … A roller coaster of a read, fast paced with surprising twists and turns … Original. Absorbing. Suspenseful. Full of action. Plausible. Realistic. A very well written work marked by truly exceptional backstory development … All this plus the author truly knows and loves Colorado’s wilderness and writes about it beautifully.” Washington Times


About the Author

ERIK STOREY is a former ranch hand, wilderness guide, dogsled musher, and hunter. He spent his childhood summers on his great-grandfather’s homestead or in a remote cabin in Colorado’s Flat Tops wilderness. He has earned a number of sharpshooter and marksman qualifications. Nothing Short of Dying is his first novel. He and his family live in Grand Junction, Colorado. Read More






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