From the author dubbed by Jeffery Deaver “a born storyteller” whose first novel Nothing Short of Dying was hailed as “exceptional,” “a rollercoaster read,” and “adrenaline-fueled” by publications on both sides of the Atlantic, this is Erik Storey’s next entry in the Clyde Barr series, a locomotive-paced brawler that has its hero teaming with besieged members of a Native American reservation to thwart outlaw bikers who are putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.
Clyde Barr, the drifter with lethal skills, is alone again, wandering the highways of the American West in search of something to believe in. As summer turns to autumn, he trades his car for a horse and heads for the mountains, planning to clear his head and regain his edge with some hunting. But when he runs across an elderly sick man—a Ute Indian from a nearby reservation—Clyde’s dream of solitude is quickly dashed.
On the reservation, Clyde finds the old man’s daughter, Lawana, and grandson, Taylor, as well as a group of menacing bikers called Reapers running wild in the economically depressed, half-abandoned village. Gripped by the desire to do good in a hard world, Clyde offers to stay on Lawana’s ranch to help out until her father is released from the hospital. He controls himself around the bikers, even when he sees them harass a few Native American women—but when the Reapers attack a local boy Clyde has to do something. As tensions rise between the locals and the Reapers, Clyde’s efforts to protect the reservation become a fight for his, Lawana’s, and Taylor’s lives. And then the stakes ratchet up even more.
In the remote Utah desert, surrounded by enemies, with no law enforcement presence, and with communication effectively cut off, Clyde must find a way to save his new friends, defeat the gang, and, hopefully, escape with his own skin intact. A Promise to Kill is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, pushing its no-hold-barred hero to new levels of improvisation and bare-knuckled blunt force.
About the Author
Erik Storey is a former ranch hand, wilderness guide, dogsled musher, and hunter. He spent his childhood summers growing up on his great-grandfather’s homestead or in a remote cabin in Colorado’s Flat Tops wilderness. He has earned a number of sharpshooter and marksman qualifications. He is the author of three Clyde Barr novels, Nothing Short of Dying, A Promise to Kill, and the forthcoming Leave No One Alive. He and his family live in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
A Promise to Kill
The second time I saw the old Ute, he was dying.
It was late summer, hot and drier even than usual. I was riding a new mare and leading a reluctant mule named Bob across the lowlands of northeast Utah that lay between the hump of the Book Cliffs and the higher Uinta Mountains to the north. When I saw the old man’s truck idling in the bar ditch, I let go of Bob’s lead rope and kicked the mare into a half gallop. Jumped off and let the reins hang as I checked on the old man.
He sat slumped against the steering wheel of his rusty twenty-year-old pickup and was complaining that his arm hurt and that he had some serious indigestion. I told him to hang on, rummaged in my pack, and pulled out a bottle of expired aspirin.
“I’m fine,” the old man said. “Just ate a bad lunch. You don’t need to worry about me.”
“No, you’re not. Here, take these.”
I shoved a couple of pills in his mouth and made him chew. He grimaced, which made his aged face look even older.
“Tasty, huh?” I said. “I’m no doctor, but I think your ticker’s giving out. Try not to die for a second. I’ll be right back.” I tied my mare and the mule to some nearby piñons and went back to the truck.
The old man looked like he was concentrating, trying to control his breathing. He rubbed his arm and clutched his shirt. “Ain’t my ticker. I have the heart of a warrior. Strong.” He thumped his chest feebly, and the grimace returned.
I dug back into my pack and found my cell phone, which was dead. Of course. There aren’t many places to plug a charger into a horse.
“We need to get you to a hospital.”
He nodded, grunted, and tried to unbuckle his seat belt. I slipped my knife from its sheath and cut the strap before he could struggle it off, then ran to the other side of the vehicle and helped him into the passenger seat.
Once I got him halfway comfortable, I hopped in the driver’s seat and tried to remember how to drive an old ranch pickup. The gears were sloppy, the clutch slipped, and the engine loped like a panicked Appaloosa I once owned. The knack of relying on mechanical horsepower, not the animal kind, came back to me a few miles later. As the old codger and I rattled down the dusty, narrow highway, I thought back to the first time we’d met, twenty minutes before.
I’d been sitting atop my horse, trotting across the gray asphalt, when the old man had stopped and waved me over.
“Nice pony,” he’d said. The clipped way he said it, combined with his dark, wrinkled skin, told me he was a Native. That was the politically correct term these days. I remembered playing Cowboys and Indians as a kid. These days, I guess kids played something PC, like Good Guys and Bad Guys.
According to the map in my pack, I was getting close to the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. This old man proved I was closer than I’d thought.
“She’s a little tall to be a pony,” I said as an understatement. The mare stood at least sixteen hands.
The old man laughed, his skin a map of deep canyons and craters. “I raise ponies just like that,” he said. “On my ranch. Quarter horses. Not as full of fight as the ponies my great-grandfather rode into war, but pretty good.” He laughed again, then asked where I was going.
I shrugged. “North, I guess.” It didn’t much matter where, as long as I was moving. Although it would be nice to get up into the range that I’d been riding toward the last couple of days. The cold granite, crystal water, and tall, fragrant pines would help fix what was eating away at me.
“You should come by,” he said. “Cook me dinner and I’ll tell you some stories.”
I told him I would, and I’d planned on it, but I’d barely ridden two miles before I came to his idling pickup.
Now, as the sun sank low in the sky and the surrounding stubby juniper and piñon trees cast grotesque shadows across the road, I divided my time between trying to keep the old beater of a truck on the pavement and glimpsing over at this man I barely knew, whose condition seemed to be worsening.
“You still with me?” I asked.
He grunted and motioned vaguely with his hand. “Go to Wakara. Straight ahead five miles. My daughter works at the clinic there. She’s a doctor—a good one. She’ll take care of me.”
I did as he said, driving through a long narrow cut that had rock walls rising up on either side, but I had to stop a couple of times to remove some debris that had probably fallen off a flatbed and would have shredded the truck’s tires. When we finally got into what barely passed for a town, the sun had disappeared behind the rocky horizon and the clinic was closed.
“Where’s the nearest phone?”
He shrugged, pointed to the only building out of the ten or so in town that had a light burning. I drove there, told the man to sit tight, and walked toward the door.
As I neared the slumping building, I heard the rumble of laughter and jeering. The place looked like it wouldn’t make it through the winter. The outside walls were a mix of peeling plaster, missing windows, and artful graffiti.
The inside was worse.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you haven't read any Clyde Barr your missing out. Nothing Short of Dying is #1 in the series and this is #2. Clyde thinks that he is going to be able to just mind his own business and do his own thing. But for Clyde as he knows that never works out. It all starts out by Clyde trying to help a man in distress and what happens next sets off a chain of events that he could have never foreseen. Next thing you know he's battling for a whole distressed community of people. Between The Reapers (bikers) and a money man and terrorist,Clyde has his hands full. On top of that he acquires a love interest and a teenage boy who looks up to him. So Clyde being Clyde all hell breaks loose! If you haven't read this series you REALLY NEED to start!