Comparisons to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher are inevitable when considering many action thriller novels with larger-than-life heroes. But when Child himself makes note of it, you know the book at hand has got to be pretty damn good. Such is the case with Erik Storey’s debut novel, Nothing Short of Dying. In a prominent book cover blurb, Child says: “Reacher is keeping an eye on this guy.” And so should you.
The novel follows loner Clyde Barr—adventurer, soldier and most recently an unjustly imprisoned convict—as he attempts to blend into his Utah countryside and escape the burdens of humanity. But as fate would have it, he receives a desperate call for help from his estranged sister Jen and must drop everything to come to her aid.
With the help of plucky bartender Allie and some rather unsavory former associates, Clyde quickly tracks his sister’s whereabouts to a mountain hideaway in Colorado where she is being kept prisoner by a ruthless criminal. Clyde boldly mounts a rescue operation with his sidekicks, resulting in an explosive exchange of gunfire and fisticuffs. The rugged countryside lends itself well to the story, creating a bleak, rugged landscape for Clyde to play in, like a classic Western showdown.
Storey doesn’t pull any punches with his crisp, in-your-face dialogue and vivid action, and neither does his hero. Clyde’s sense of commitment to his sister is both emotional and inspirational as he confronts seemingly impossible odds. Jack Reacher would be proud.