The Carrion Birds: A Novel

The Carrion Birds: A Novel

2.5 4
by Urban Waite
     
 

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The Carrion Birds from Urban Waite, author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living, is a remarkable work of literary noir.

Hired gun Ray Lamar is ready to put his past behind him. He wants to see his twelve-year-old son and start a new life—away from the violence of the last ten years. One last heist will take him there. All he has to do

Overview

The Carrion Birds from Urban Waite, author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living, is a remarkable work of literary noir.

Hired gun Ray Lamar is ready to put his past behind him. He wants to see his twelve-year-old son and start a new life—away from the violence of the last ten years. One last heist will take him there. All he has to do is steal a rival’s stash. Simple, easy, clean. 

But when things start to go very wrong, Ray realizes the path to redemption isn’t always easy.

A soulful tale of violence, vengeance, and contrition, The Carrion Birds is an elegant depiction of one man’s last chance to make things right.

Editorial Reviews

New York Journal of Books
“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 Times Book Review on The Terror of Living
“One fine specimen . . . with more artistry than would seem possible in a conventional thriller.”
Financial Times on The Terror of Living
“The defining quality of Urban Waite’s gripping existential thriller is an elegant sparseness, which inevitably recalls Cormac McCarthy.”
Tom Franklin 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.”
Stephen King 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.”
Daniel Woodrell
“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.”
Michael Koryta
“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.”
Entertainment Weekly
The Carrion Birds is as muscular and laconic as anything by Cormac McCarthy, yet it crackles with humanity. A-”
Publishers Weekly
Waite follows his acclaimed first novel, 2011’s The Terror of Living, with another 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 of Coronado, N.Mex., was doomed by its dying oil economy and the arrival of a Mexican drug cartel. Ray Lamar, a Vietnam vet who still bears the emotional scars from the revenge killing of his wife and the maiming of his infant son 12 years earlier, is now an enforcer for a local crime lord. Ray’s life has been sliding out from under him, and all he wants is to go back home to Coronado—after one last job that goes insanely wrong. Ray’s cousin Tom—who lost his sheriff’s job at the time Ray lost his family—tries to help, but the odds are stacked against them both. Meanwhile, new sheriff Edna Kelly is trapped between loyalty to the law and her sympathy for Tom, her former boss. Edna’s professional and personal defeats, Tom’s anguish, and Ray’s brutal tragedy harshly indict the social and economic forces that are fatally choking so much of the American Southwest. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Wild West noir from Waite (The Terror of Living, 2011), his second literary effort. But this isn't the Wild West of rustlers and cattle barons. It's southern New Mexico on the cusp of the second millennium, and the range war is between the Mexican drug cartel and the local drug kingpin, an ugly and blood-drenched fight that ranges across the desert and mountains and pumped-out oil fields along the border. Raymond Lamar, son of a Mexican cook and a hard-driving Anglo wildcatter, returned from Vietnam, worked the oil fields until the oil and the work dried up, and then signed on as a pistolero for Memo, a Las Cruces dealer controlling the border country. Times were hard, jobs scarce and the money good, but Ray's wife, Marianne, didn't approve. Dead soon thereafter from an apparent "accidental" car crash that left their son Billy brain-damaged, Marianne became a victim of the violence Ray brought home. Guilt-ridden, revenge-minded Ray believed the cartel responsible, and he pressured his cousin Tomás Herrera, the local sheriff, to confront the woman rumored to be the cartel's local chief. The woman was shot dead, Herrera lost his job, and Ray disappeared into the drug war's deadly jungle. Now promised big money by Memo and hoping to reconnect with his deaf-mute son, Ray agrees to one last job, wetwork that eventually leaves a trail of dead bodies along the borderland. Waite writes with grace and poignancy and keen comprehension of hard men in hard circumstances, especially in delineating Ray, Tomás and Dario, local cartel kingpin. While he doesn't fully explore the Hispanic-Anglo cultural clash muddying the flow of narcotics north, and female characters are somewhat tangential, Waite's narrative rages as a perfect torrent of violence flooding toward its inevitable conclusion. Fierce and lyrical.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062216892
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/26/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)

What People are saying about this

Daniel Woodrell

“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.”

Michael Koryta

“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.”

Meet the Author

Urban Waite is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Carrion Birds and The Terror of Living, which was named one of Esquire's Ten Best Books of 2011. His work has been a finalist for the New Mexico and Arizona Book Awards, has been translated in nine languages, and is sold worldwide. He lives in Seattle with his wife.

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The Carrion Birds 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A starkly eloquent and soulful thriller in the noir tradition that is sure to appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell. The scenes of startling, cinematic violence—and there are many—are followed by unexpected bursts of lyricism and beauty, lending a certain poetic quality to the writing. I absolutely loved it and Urban Waite is most definitely a writer to watch!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dull, dull, dull. Boring and repetitious. Most of the time one doesn't know know what's going on and why. The constant repetition of "times have changed" gets on your nerves, without being specific what did change. Took me a week to read hardly 190 pages without falling asleep.
Anonymous 26 days ago
Okay so honestly I got 12 pages in and had to stop. I have nothing against the story itself I don't think? Not up to that point anyway. I'm sure the plot, etc. is fine. It's the writing style itself I just couldn't take anymore.. There are SO many sentence fragments. Um. I don't know if that's the correct term. Incomplete sentences? Or maybe I just mean confusing sentences. I'll just give some examples because I'm totally blanking here: "Ray with no real idea what to expect." "All that more than ten years ago, since he'd taken the job with Memo." "No work anywhere in the valley and Ray with a real need to put away some money." "The chalk-dry mouth that went along with his drinking." "The mirror grown heavy with steam, obscuring the round face that looked back at him." "The close cut of his hair outlining his thick eyebrows and muscled Mexican face." You get the idea. In the first 10 pages alone, there are at least 25 sentences like that. See the thing is, with me personally... when I read a sentence that doesn't make sense, isn't quite a sentence, is confusing, etc. my mind is like "Whoa hold up a minute, what?" And I have to go back and re-read the sentence. So with this book, I was doing that crazy often and it was becoming tedious and time-consuming. It was becoming super distracting from the story itself and I found I could barely follow along. Like, I actually ended up checking to see if this book was originally written in another language and just happened to be relatively poorly translated. As far as I can tell, that's not the case. Anyone is more than welcome to correct me if I'm wrong about that. I WILL say right now that this could just be me. Maybe other people like the writing style. I mean, there's even a quote from Stephen King on the front cover, so if he liked it I'm pretty sure others do/will too. But me? Not so much. I told myself to try getting at least 25-30 pages in to give the book a chance but I really just couldn't.
booksnoopks More than 1 year ago
Sad tale of drugwars, cartels, crime, families torn apart, etc.