I feel like a total fanboy right now. Erik Storey hasn’t even had time to take a bow and I’m already screaming for an encore, refusing to admit to myself that the show is over and I have to wait a full year before his second book is released.
Patience has never been my strong suit, and this wait will be brutal.
If you’ve never heard of Erik Storey before, don’t worry, I hadn’t either until earlier this year. Now I’m a huge fan of the debut author who recently signed a two-book deal with Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) to launch his new series starring Colorado-based drifter, Clyde Barr.
It won’t take thriller fans long to join me in the Erik Storey Fanclub, as the first-time author has delivered a stunning, action-packed novel that is perfectly paced and beautifully written. In fact, I can tell you exactly how long it took for me to go full fan mode.
That’s all it took for me to be buy into exactly what Storey is sellin’–a relentlessly tough, imposing figure with a shady past that follows him, who is out to right some wrongs and steamroll anyone who might try to stand in his way. All of which is set in Colorado, where the author describes the picturesque mountainside scenery as well as anyone else currently writing tales taking place in the modern-day Wild West.
Erik Storey bursts onto the scene in double-barrel-fashion with Nothing Short of Dying, an epic debut thriller that will leave fans breathless and hungry for more.
When readers first meet Clyde Barr, he’s back in Colorado for the first time in sixteen years. Even before learning any of his backstory, Barr has a real presence on the page as someone who can definitely take care of himself. That notion is reinforced as Barr’s calm demeanour, even under the most stressful of times, shines through the first-person narrative that Storey writes in.
When the goin’ gets tough, Clyde stays calm, cool, and collected–the mark of someone who has complete confidence in themselves and what they’re capable of.
The action begins on page one when a ringing cell phone disrupts Clyde’s quiet evening by the campfire in the middle of nowhere. Jen, Clyde’s youngest sister, is on the other end and she’s scared out of her mind.
In a quiet, shaky voice she begs her big brother for help, explaining that the man she’s with is going to kill her once she’s done helping him. But before Clyde can find out what she means or ask her any questions, the line goes dead.
Barr has no idea how long he has to find his sister, or even where to start looking. He makes calls to his other two sisters, neither of which are on speaking terms with him, and comes up empty. Desperate for answers, he goes to the only person he still somewhat knows from a lifetime ago, before he left Colorado, hellbent on never coming back.
This person from Barr’s past helps provide him with his first real lead, which takes him to a tiny bar his sister used to hang out at. He finds nothing but trouble there, and in the process of “taking out the trash,” he inadvertently causes real problems for the attractive, twenty-six-year-old bartender named Allie.
Unwilling to leave Allie behind to face the wrath of an unhappy boss and his drug kingpin brother, all of which is Barr’s doing, he takes her on the run with him. The two have great chemistry and their back-and-forth dialogue is sharp and realistic, as they hit it off and bond together over their rough pasts and current predicament.
It’s about this time that we start to unravel the mystery of Clyde’s past life and transgressions–which he’s running from in more ways than one–and the nature of his relationship with his little sister. He owes her, she reminded him of such when she called to ask him for help, but for what reason is just one of the many mysteries surrounding Clyde Barr.
While Clyde would love to keep those mysteries about his past hidden forever, he learns the hard way that sometimes the skeletons in one’s closet have a way of coming back to life and haunting not only you but the people you love, too.
Up against the clock and on the run from both bad guys and shady government types, Clyde Barr will stop at nothing to save his sister and leave his old life behind once and for all.
Why I loved it
I loved everything about this book, including the cover which has some slick-looking artwork that boasts terrific blurbs from #1 New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Box and Lee Child. It’s fitting because Storey’s protagonist is the perfect mix of Joe Pickett and Jack Reacher–a lethal combination to be sure–and an absolute treat to read.
While the plot might sound a little bit like a redneck version of the movie Taken (starring Liam Neeson), it quickly proves to be a deeper, richer, and far superior story that will keep readers guessing and turning pages like a madman.
Why you should read it
Storey is one of the hottest new authors in a genre that has badly needed an infusion of young talent. Reacher, Rapp, Harvath, Allon, Pickett, and Wells have all been around for ten-plus books. And while I’d argue that most of those characters are stronger and better than ever (I’m looking at you, Mitch Rapp!), they can’t possibly last forever.
The thriller genre is packed with All-Stars, but it never hurts to have a strong farm system to build on in the future. Erik Storey is a five-tool, blue-chip prospect. I expect really big things out of him, and can’t wait to watch his career take off!
Author: Erik Storey
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Release Date: August 16, 2016 (Order now!)