Erik Storey’s Nothing Short of Dying was a high-octane series launch, its hard-wired plot and adrenaline-fuelled scenes making it a must-read for fans of thriller-lit. Impossibly, his second Clyde Barr novel is even leaner and meaner, which evokes the spirit of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, but retains its own ingenuity.
Barr is a nomad like Reacher — a hard-as-nails butt-kicker with an irrepressible moral code — but unlike the army-trained protagonist of Child’s novels, Storey’s hero is a self-trained, all of his skills learned on third-world battlefields, or during a short stint in a Mexican prison. He’s rawer than Reacher, cruder, which mightn’t seem an important distinction to readers less indoctrinated in the genre, but makes a difference for those of us who read hundreds of these books a year.
When A Promise to Kill opens, Barr is rushing a newfound friend, Bud Nicholas — a farmer in the Ute Indian reservation in Utah — to hospital with a suspected heart attack. There he meets Bud’s daughter and her son, the trio forming an instant bond, which results in Barr offering his services at the farm until Bud is back on his feet. But contentedness never lasts long in these books, and soon a violent biker gang called the Reapers set up camp ten miles north of town and start making their presence known. Never one to back down, regardless of the odds, Barr quickly makes his presence known to the Reapers, and as the bikers’ interactions with the townspeople become increasingly violent, Barr uncovers their true reasons for basing themselves in the region.
The pace doesn’t let up, events occurring over a few days, and while characterisations are thin, tensions are always high. Storey serves up a story that rarely pauses for breath, and while it might’ve been nice to have a few scenes fleshed out, and the book’s antagonist’s rationality better explained, A Promise to Kill is all about sheer intensity. Storey has mastered the art of making pages turn themselves, and whatever the plot lacks in nuance, it makes up for with its relentless and visceral action.
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publish Date: 10-Aug-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom