Nothing short of dying – Erik Storey

Many thanks to Net Galley for providing an ARC in exchange of a fair review

Cyde Barr had three older sisters and a pair of dysfunctional parents as a child. By the time his parents decided to separate and his mother started bringing her new ‘friends’ home, Clyde and his sister Jen were the only two siblings still staying with her. Dealing with the various men and their abusive behavior brought them together in a bond that they could never share with their older sisters. The tough childhood years seem to have played a major part in the life choices that these two made in later years – Clyde took to moving around the world and to criminal activities while Jen moved towards drugs and bad choices in men.

When we meet him, Clyde Barr has been away from his hometown of Colorado for sixteen years, during which time he has worked as a mercenary in Africa, done some time in prison and even taken up odd jobs like herding cattle. Now that he is back, he hopes to meet his siblings for form’s sake, take in the scents and smells of his childhood and maybe move on again in a few days. Alas, for his plans of living the quiet life, when Clyde receives a frantic phone call from Jen to come and rescue her, he has little choice but to comply – she is after all his sister and the one he promised to always protect – and try to save her from the clutches of a very dangerous man.

The blurb on the book introduces Clyde Barr a “Jack Reacher” – like protagonist, with similar drifter tendencies and great fighting skills. The problem with making comparisons though, is that it always leads others to do the same. And so, I found myself thinking time and again ‘What would Reacher do in a similar situation?’, which was not very fair to Clyde at all.

Clyde Barr seems inherently different from Jack Reacher in almost all aspects except for his tendency to float around the world. In his very first debut, Barr has come back home, acknowledges that he has family (and a pretty big one at that) and reveals that he has learnt his lessons in the harsh life of the criminal world and not the regimented discipline of the army. Ruthlessness and self-preservation feature above all things in most scenarios that made him what he is today. That he seems to have come out of that experience with any sense of honour at all is in itself nothing short of a miracle.

Clyde is rough around the edges, has more criminal friends than normal ones, and seems to wander into situations without proper, or at times any, recon at all. But that may also have been due to the fact that he functions best alone and was distracted by the girl who tags along with him on this harrowing journey. He is thus, also incredibly lucky to be alive.

The author moves the story fast enough to keep the reader breathless and on their toes for the entire duration. His writing style can also be said to be reminiscent of Lee Child to some extent, which makes for good reading any day. One can’t really fault the book in much except for Barr’s desire to saunter into dangerous situation after situation without proper back up but then that is part of the character and not a problem with the writing. One gets involved enough in the story to start screaming advice to the characters on what they should be doing instead of what they are actually doing. A bit like watching cricket. Once that happens you know the author has you hooked.

This is definitely a thriller to read and enjoy.

And my advice, please stop comparing Clyde Barr to anyone. He seems to be doing pretty well on his own.

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