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Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey

Nothing Short of Dying

by Erik Storey

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Erik Storey's Nothing Short of Dying is a good summer read.

Clyde Barr is a drifting man who receives a cryptic call for help from his sister Jen. His sister is being held at an unknown location by a vicious thug planning some sort of unknown heist. Clyde is compelled to help his sister, fueled by a promise once made to her when the two were younger.

Storey parses out the backstory of Barr and his sister in sprinkles throughout the book and brings in a wide variety of supporting characters - some nasty and others even nastier, while keeping the story flowing and interesting.

Clyde receives help from interesting characters along the way; one of whom is especially troubling.

This is an enjoyable book from a first time author, with apparent plans to base more novels with the Clyde Barr character.

( )
  EricEllis | Sep 2, 2017 |
Excellent first novel set in Colorado. Barr is an all around tough guy, mercenary, hunter, helper of the poor.
He has just gotten out of a Mexican prison when he finds that his sister has been kidnapped.. Very good read. ( )
  pgabj | Nov 7, 2016 |
Clyde Barr wants a break from civilization and he finds it deep in the Yukon. Then one night he receives a desperate call from his sister Jen. She begs him to come rescue her. After a pause, he promises he will. Once back home in Colorado, Clyde starts digging up old contacts that can give him a lead on his sister. A variety of obstacles get in his way including drug dealers, gangs, the FBI, and a questionable comrade from his time in a Mexican prison.

This was an excellent action thriller. Clyde Barr is a many-layered man. He’s spent 16 years away from the States, hunting, killing, and sometimes protecting in South America and Africa. Now he just wants to be away from it all, but that can’t be until he upholds his promise to Jen, a promise he wouldn’t have given lightly. As the story unfolds, we learn more about this fascinating character. He and Jen, the youngest of 4 children, share experiences and a secret from their teen years. Jen knows that if he gives his word then nothing short of dying will keep him from fulfilling it.

Being of the Southwest myself, I really liked that the setting was Colorado. The author did a great job in capturing the empty expanse of some areas of the state, the spread-out cities, and the Hispanic influence in culture, food, and language. Clyde has been away from modern tech for some time and his remarks on changes, such as the legal pot stores, added touchstones for those familiar with the state.

The ladies make up a good chunk of the side characters and they are written like real people. They don’t fall into the typical action flick stereotypes of love interest and/or damsel in distress. Yes, sometimes someone needs a hand up and Jen especially needs someone to rescue her, yet even Jen is doing what she can from her position to aid herself. Allie Martin, bar tender and drifter, has a solid back story and I like that she has skills that Clyde doesn’t, like she’s familiar with modern mechanics.

Jen has gotten caught up in Lance Alvis’s business, which is currently heroin production and distribution. There’s big money in the business and Alvis isn’t a reckless idiot. He has layers of people between him and the street distribution. This makes it tough for Clyde to track him down. Also, it provides plenty of opportunity for brawling. Clyde has some fighting skills and most of his bouts are swiftly put to an end, leaving the drug pushers on the floor.

Now I don’t want to make Clyde sound like a macho man. He’s capable, even deadly when he has to be, and masculine – no doubt about those three points. Yet he doesn’t toot his own horn or show off for the ladies. There are even a few times where he slips or makes a mistake and he’s the first to chuckle at himself or castigate himself, depending on the situation.

Zeke was probably the most interesting minor character. He spent some time with Clyde in a tough situation and they were comrades of sort. However, Zeke lacks morals and Clyde sees him as dangerous because of this. Yet Zeke is good with horses. Another interesting character was Chapo, who is muscle for a local gang. He joins forces with Clyde briefly as they hunt down a lead on Alvis. Chapo has his own code and Clyde focuses on that instead of the right or wrong of the gang life.

All around, it’s a very interesting action tale with plenty of layers to peel back as the story moves forward. I was never bored with it or rolling my eyes. I also appreciated the accuracy in description and use when it came to firearms. I very much look forward to what else Storey comes up with in his writing career.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The Narration: Jeremy Bobb did a very good job with Clyde Barr’s voice. It was practical and a little rough, just like the man himself. His female voices were believable. He also did a Hispanic accent here and there. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Oct 31, 2016 |
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. ( )
  tottman | Oct 27, 2016 |
NOTHING SHORT OF DYING is the debut release from author Erik Storey, which arrived with considerable fanfare. It's flagged as something that will have Lee Child's Reacher watching over his shoulder which clearly flags this is action packed, with a lone hero up against it from all sides central character.

Clyde Barr is a mountain man, hunter and a mercenary. After many years fighting conflicts in Africa amongst other places, and a torrid stint in a Mexican jail he's heading back to his native Colorado, out into the mountains, going bush as we'd say in Australia, looking for a low key sort of life. Which all goes to hell in a hand-basket when he gets a frantic call from one of his sisters, and heads out to save the day. At this point you start to find out that Barr's personal life is anything but uncomplicated, his family is fractured, his younger sister has been a bit of a trial and just about everybody is flat out nasty or at the very least disinterested. Unless you count Allie the barmaid with a sort of heart of gold and taste for adventure, who joins him on quest, serving as companion, love interest and recently arrived conscience or reason to get his act together.

NOTHING SHORT OF DYING is really quite the roller-coaster ride, and in that I'm not just referring to the action packed, race to find and free the sister. There are many highs and lows in dealing with Barr to navigate as well. The action here is bloody and violent, there's a feeling of the wild west about the pace, and the free-wheeling bash, crash and killing spree. Whilst it's obvious that those who have taken Jen are definitely the black hat wearers, Barr's not so easy to pigeon-hole. There are times when he feels like part of the problem - with a tendency to wipe out anybody who even looks like they are going to get in his way, and times he's haunted by memories of things that have gone wrong in the past, people who he's failed to save, bodies he's left in his wake. And of course, there's a budding romance with Allie - who is carting around more than a few issues of her own.

There were points where I absolutely loved NOTHING SHORT OF DYING, and points where I'd cheerfully have flung it across a room. Whilst there are aspects of Barr's characterisation that rang true, that has to balanced up against the constant concept of anything can be solved if you shoot it, hit it hard enough, or drive around it fast enough. All of which has been done - to death - before, although undoubtedly that doesn't sound particularly fair as the same could be said of lots of thrillers. It's all going to come down to a question of connection with Barr and even with Allie. If, as a reader he's somebody you instantly feel you can barrack for, or even just understand a bit, then the quibbles will disappear. If he's somebody you're struggling with, then the lack of subtlety, and the constant bang bang, shoot 'em up, loner out to save the day, getting it wrong, getting it right and the extreme violence is going to be less successful.

NOTHING SHORT OF DYING is definitely one for readers to make their own minds up about.

https://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-nothing-short-dying-erik-storey ( )
  austcrimefiction | Oct 11, 2016 |
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Survivalist adventurer and soldier of fortune Clyde Barr, recently released from an unjust prison term, uses his lethal skills to rescue his abducted sister from a meth kingpin who would control the drug trade throughout the Western United States.

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