Tina Jordan
April 12, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Carrion Birds

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Urban Waite
publisher
William Morrow
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

I’ve never been a huge fan of noir novels, which tend to leave me a little cold. Urban Waite’s, The Carrion Birds, a tale of a Vietnam vet–slash–criminal enforcer is as muscular and laconic as anything by Cormac McCarthy, yet it crackles with humanity. The vet, Ray, has only ever been good at one thing — expertly handling the dull black Ruger he keeps hidden in a Ritz cracker box. Now he wants to retire and return to the New Mexico town where his young son lives. But then his last gig, the brazen theft of a rival’s stash, goes sour. As the spiraling violence plays out against the creosote-studded mesas, it’s clear it isn’t just the characters who are doomed: So is the desolate swath of the American Southwest ruled by the drug cartels. A-

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