Nothing Short of Dying (Erik Storey)

27276269Sixteen years. That’s how long Clyde Barr has been away from Colorado’s thick forests, alpine deserts, and craggy peaks, running from a past filled with haunting memories. But now he’s back, having roamed across three continents as a hunter, adventurer, soldier of fortune, and most recently, unjustly imprisoned convict. And once again, his past is reaching out to claim him. By the light of a flickering campfire, Clyde receives a frantic phone call from his sister Jen. No sooner has she pleaded with him to come rescue her than the line goes dead. Clyde doesn’t know how much time he has, or where Jen is located, or even who has her. All he knows is that nothing short of dying will stop him from saving her. Joining Clyde in his against-all-odds quest is a young woman named Allie whose motivations for running this gauntlet are fascinatingly complex. As the duo races against the clock, it is Allie who gets Clyde to see what he has become and what he can still be.

Nothing Short of Dying is an action thriller, a modern noir story that will appeal to fans of Jack Reacher. This is not my usual type of read, as I’ve said before that I prefer these stories as movies instead of books, but I must say NSOD is a fun and entertaining thriller which I read pretty quickly.

The novel revolves around a mysterious and tortured young man: Clyde Barr. Many years ago, after an incident with his mother’s boyfriend, Clyde escaped his hometown in order to look for something that would fulfill him. He worked in several countries as a mercenary and various other jobs that turned him into a very resourceful and sometimes dangerous man. He’s your typical broody action hero: smart, brave and without nothing to lose. When his sister calls him and asks for his help, Clyde knows he can’t say no. He soon meets the wonderful and charismatic Allie and together they embark on a dangerous journey filled with action, surprises and even some tragic events.

While this was thoroughly enjoyable and quick to read, I wish it would’ve been a bit more funny and light at certain moments. There’s nothing wrong with tortured characters, I just prefer them if they’re sarcastic and witty as well, which was not really the case here.Of course, my favorite character was Allie, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone and it’ll probably be yours too. I liked how there were characters that only appeared for a few scenes, which means that they’ll probably show up in the sequels (because this is a series, right?). I’m a fan of continuity.

The central story was interesting enough, but I really loved reading about Clyde’s childhood and his family, as the flashbacks gave him more humanity. Clyde and his sisters suffered a lot when they were young and by reading those fragments you understand why Jen and Clyde behave like they do, even if you don’t always agree with their decisions.

If you’re looking for a mystery or a psychological thriller, then this is not the book you should choose. Nothing Short of Dying is filled with action, has no traditional mystery and is gritty, raw and pretty pessimistic for the most part. But if you’re in search of a dark thriller about classic themes like loyalty, family and honor and you love characters like Jack Reacher, then you’ll probably enjoy this a lot.

Scribner, 2016

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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