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Carrion Birds, The Hardcover – April 16, 2013


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"Crow Fair" by Thomas McGuane
Set in Thomas McGuane’s accustomed Big Sky country, with its mesmeric powers, these stories attest to the generous compass of his fellow feeling, as well as to his unique way with words and the comic genius. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: WilliamMr; First Edition edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062216880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062216885
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Advice to all good-hearted crooks who want to get out of the game: don’t do “one last job.” It won’t work. Never Does. Never. Ray Lamar, in Waite’s wrenching thriller, the follow-up to his superb debut, The Terror of Living (2011), is the latest in the thin red line of noir heroes who discover that their chimerical last job offers only a one-way ticket on the Oblivion Express. All Ray, a gun for hire working for a seriously bent drug dealer, wants is to go home to Coronado, New Mexico, and reunite with his 12-year-old son. Not happening, Ray. Along the way, though, his determination to get somewhere everyone knows he can never go opens a Pandora’s box of chain reactions that wreaks havoc on a small southwestern town, havoc that is described in such graphically poetic prose that it occasionally makes the hair on even a cynical noir fan’s head stand on end. If there isn’t quite as much complexity of plot here as in Terror of Living, that’s because this novel is an even purer distillation of noir. The Oblivion Express only runs in one direction, and there are no side trips. As Ray puts it in the finale, which will remind readers of the equally inevitable end to Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers (1974), “All of it had led to this—this moment, no one but him and the pain and the pulse of the wound beneath his hand, drawing him forward.” --Bill Ott

Review

The Carrion Birds is as muscular and laconic as anything by Cormac McCarthy, yet it crackles with humanity. A-” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A lean and mean, modern-day noir western filled with complex characters and situations . . . hauntingly dark and elegiac writing . . . a candidate for best crime book of 2013.” (New York Journal of Books)

“[A] searing western noir. Three people face terrifying moral choices as they each wish for what they can’t have: life as it was before their small border town . . . was doomed by its dying oil economy.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Waite writes with grace and poignancy and keen comprehension of hard men in hard circumstances . . . [The] narrative rages as a perfect torrent of violence flooding toward its inevitable conclusion. Fierce and lyrical.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“One fine specimen . . . with more artistry than would seem possible in a conventional thriller.” (New York Times Book Review on The Terror of Living)

“In the tradition of No Country for Old Men, Urban Waite has written a nail-biter that takes off from the get-go and never stops, a book chock full of memorable characters and kick-ass writing.” (Tom Franklin on The Terror of Living)

“A hell of a good novel, relentlessly paced and beautifully narrated. There’s just no let-up. Waite’s style is tight and taut. . . . Strong narrative voice, auspicious debut. . . . Awfully glad I read this one.” (Stephen King on The Terror of Living)

“A smart, swiftly-paced and bloody Western for our moment. Urban Waite is a writer who won’t let a reader wander away—he keeps you reading, and reading, and rewards all your attention with a powerhouse story and prose to match.” (Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone on The Terror of Living)

“Opens with gentle beauty, calm before a bloody storm, before building intensity with swift, jarring, and confident storytelling power. . . . Readers—including this one—will certainly be following Urban Waite for years to come.” (Michael Koryta, author of So Cold the River on The Terror of Living)

Customer Reviews

I thought the book started slow and then as the story progressed there were too many redundancies.
T. Roberts
I enjoyed this story more than his debut The Terror of Living, his prose and characters have you hooked right until the curtain drops.
Lou pendergrast
A starkly eloquent and soulful thriller in the noir tradition that is sure to appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell.
New York City

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE CARRION BIRDS by Urban Waite is being marketed as "an unsettling and indelible work of literary noir in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane." Noir is not a genre I typically reach for but I do love Cormac McCarthy and I was drawn to this bold, dark title by its designation as "literary."

In my mind "literary" distinguishes works of fiction utilizing elements of high literature to engage its readers from the market fiction which appeals more to fans of genre fiction such as the crime thriller or the police procedural. Therefore a literary noir would be a hybrid of both literature and thriller and that is what I was expecting from this novel.

As a literary effort I must admit that I was quite disappointed with the first half of this novel and almost gave up on it several times. I did here and there throughout passages of lengthy, explanatory narrative and dull, uninspired dialogue come across those sparks of literary merit that I am so fond of in my fiction, but it took 125 pages of patience and perseverance for me to connect with it.

As a writer Waite is clearly influenced by Cormac McCarthy but he never quite rises up to the richness of language, the exploration of character, the depth of emotion and the range of underlying themes of Cormac McCarthy. I was dismayed by the lack of originality in what came across to me as merely McCarthy Lite.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Luckyclucker VINE VOICE on April 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Overall, I enjoyed the writing and the story-telling. It's an original story (in my opinion) and very well-paced. It is a good book to read on a plane, when you are miserable and have a hard time concentrating. I think Mr. Waite writes a better story than Stuart Woods or James Patterson, and I would buy the next book by him, whereas I wouldn't buy one by either of the other authors.

The only reasons I dinged him a star were because of some very heavy purple prose that pops up throughout the book. Also, it seemed like he really isn't very familiar with the area-- Southern New Mexico. He thanks several people who took him camping and helped to acquaint him with the region, which is fine, but the book lacks the conviction of somebody who knows the area well-- like Tony Hillerman. That's fine and isn't a major detraction from the story, it's just something that stood out for me.

All and all this is a writer I will keep track of in the future.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on January 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ray Lamar and Tom Herrera are cousins who grew up together, but are now on opposite sides of the law. Well, in theory. In practice they are both pathetic characters, not completely clear about what is right and what is wrong. The story begins when Ray decides to return to town after many years absence and do one more job, one more petty crime for his boss, the mysterious Memo. Of course the job goes horribly wrong, and sparks a cycle of revenge killings that engulfs the little town of Coronado, New Mexico. The characters have lots of baggage, unresolved issues from the past, devastating losses, vague dreams of somehow getting back on their feet. Meanwhile, the oil fields are shutting down, the town is doomed, and everyone gets caught up in the ensuing chaos. Kelly, the new sheriff, is overwhelmed, as she tries to maintain an uneasy peace.,

Will Ray ever get right with the law? Will Tom ever get back the job he once held as sheriff? Will Ray reconnect with the little son he abandoned so many years before? Will the two cousins reconcile? Will they help each other get back to some kind of moral standing? What about the sheriff--will she get a handle on her new job? And what will happen to Memo, the mysterious gangster who set the whole awful cycle in motion? Of course I won't tell you. You'll have to read the novel for yourself.

Author Urban Waite writes well, although his use of incomplete sentences is sometimes disconcerting. He offers vivid impressions of the southwestern desert, scenery, and fading small towns, along with a lot of gunfire and descriptions of bullet wounds. His characters are somewhat hard to like, although this reviewer kept hoping that things would somehow work out for Ray, the hired killer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Sanders VINE VOICE on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A Hobson's choice is to take what's offered or nothing. Take it or leave it. Ray and Tom were offered up such choices, or what seemed to be the only choices, and then things happened to them. Tom, the lawman and, Ray his cousin, the outlaw. But that was only because the oil ran out and there weren't a lot of choices, and they had to do something. Tom's path took him to shooting a woman in the drug business right in front of her child, and Ray's path through the maze of the drug business and out and away. Tom lost his job and had to scrabble doing what he could to get by; Ray lost his wife and much of his child, and he left. He couldn't handle the reality.

The story begins with Ray coming back to Coronado, just south of Las Cruces. I-10 goes straight south to El Paso and Juarez, and at Las Cruces makes a sharp left turn and heads out to San Diego. I-25 heads north to Albuquerque; so Las Cruces is a cross-roads of sorts. The story takes in this general region. The Hermanos Mountain range sounds a lot like the Organ Mountains outside of Law Cruces, and that was how I pictured the area. It seems desolate unless you've lived there; then it seems like home. That's what Ray hoped to do; go home.

The author, Urban Waite, spins a masterful if somewhat fatalistic story of the two cousins and the flotsam and jetsam that still inhabit Coronado. More importantly, he raises the question of dealing with fate. What choices there are, or what can and are made, are not seen as a very big selection. The past events and past choices keep coming back to limit what you can do and what you must do, and so the end is both more and less problematic. It's less problematic in that it's pretty narrow. It's more problematic because the end doesn't look so good.
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More About the Author

URBAN WAITE is a good guy who writes evil things (or maybe vice versa). He is the author of The Terror of Living, named a Best Book of the Year by Esquire, The Boston Globe, and Booklist. His second novel is The Carrion Birds, a finalist for the New Mexico and Arizona Book Award, and was called "a cadidate for best crime book of 2013" by the New York Journal of Books. His short fiction has appeared in the Best of the West anthology, the Southern Review, and many other journals. His work has been translated into nine languages and is available in more than twenty countries worldwide.

His third novel, Sometimes the Wolf, released October 21st, 2014 by William Morrow/HarperCollins, has been selected as a Best Book of 2014 by The Sun Sentinel and LitReactor.

Find more information about him at the website: http://www.urbanwaite.com
For frequent updates go to the author fan page at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UrbanWaite

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