Like darned near every other antihero, Clyde Barr is a stone killer who’s spent a few years as a mercenary. Clyde’s “difference” is that he always fought for the little guy – or at least for what he thought might be the right side. Released from a Mexican jail, Clyde stops by his western Colorado home ground on the way to the Yukon, only to find that his sister has been “taken” by… someone to do... something.
Barr enlists the aid of his criminal high-school homies and a foxy bartendress to locate the missing sibling, along the way managing to kill a dozen – or perhaps two dozen – bad guys working in the meth biz. As one might expect, he and the honey do the horizontal bop within a couple of days of meeting, and there are double-crosses galore.
Erik Storey’s debut novel Nothing Short of Dying is, if nothing else, action-filled, if by “action-filled” you mean “full of murder and mayhem.” Barr’s victims (and friends and not-friends) are killed with knives, rocks, arrows, bullets, and bare hands; while Barr himself demonstrates the recuperative powers of a lesser Norse god. Storey, clearly an aficionado of the likes of Reacher and Bourne, takes his (anti)hero on a wild romp across the Western Slope; pausing occasionally to observe the beauty of the mountains before killing yet another black-clad ex-Ranger.
Fans of long strings of clichés and literary tropes will be quite pleased with this superficial novel, though anyone hoping for a character with the depth of a Reacher or a Bourne (and I use “depth” loosely) will probably be disappointed. Storey manages an occasional well-written passage and slips in a rare bit of humor, but all in all the novel reads as if it was cobbled together from the fight scenes of far too many second- and third-rate thrillers.