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Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey

Nothing Short of Dying: A Clyde Barr Novel - Erik Storey

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.