Suspense

One more job before going home

 

Like the brutal yet solid storytelling of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway, Urban Waite’s new book is true western noir that examines destructive moral dilemmas.

A criminal who vows to go straight after that one last job is a tried and true idea, but Waite makes the idea fresh by adding the disintegration of a family to his plot. More than 12 years ago, Ray Lamar left his home in New Mexico after his wife was killed by members of a drug cartel and his toddler son left brain-damaged in a car crash.

All these years, Ray hasn’t seen his son, whom he left in the care of his aged father, nor his cousin, Tom, with whom he was raised. In a misguided attempt to help Ray, Tom went after a suspected drug dealer; an incident that eventually cost Tom his job as the local sheriff and has “forever defined his life.”

Ray plans to do one last job for a crime boss so he can return home. But naturally, everything goes horribly wrong.

Set in a dying town where dried-up oil wells and abandoned housing developments dot the landscape, The Carrion Birds succinctly uses the barren area as a metaphor for the characters’ lives. Waite makes the reader feel the arid desert while also making an unlikable character such as Ray sympathetic. The Carrion Birds moves at a brisk pace, with an unflinching brutality that Waite makes work.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed this book for The Sun Sentinel.

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