The Carrion Birds: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Urban Waite has a talent
for writing taut, violent novels with intelligent, nuanced plots and flawed but
intriguing characters.  What would you do for your brother?  Tom took
a tragic action that cost him his career and his peace of mind for his brother
Ray.  What would you do to avenge your dead wife?  Ray gave up his
way of life, his child, and his home to become a hired gun in the aftermath of
his wife’s death.  It has been a long time; Ray is coming back to
Coronado, New Mexico.  He doesn’t want to be a hired gun working for thugs
anymore; he wants to find out if he can have a relationship with the son he
abandoned.  It will take one more big score to set him up with enough cash
to live comfortably.  His return sets in motion cataclysmic events that
leave no one untouched.  Gorgeous writing, the sere desert landscape, and
characters that grab life by the neck keep the pages flying by to the very end.

— Deon Stonehouse

May 2013 Indie Next List

“Can you really go home again? Urban White tackles this subject with great skill in 'The Carrion Birds'. Ray, a recently unemployed widower, becomes a hired killer for a drug cartel. When Ray attempts to leave the cartel, his father is brutally murdered & Ray vows revenge. His cousin, Tom, a former police officer, tracks him down. But can cousins who are as close as brothers really do the right thing?”
— Pamela Pride, Kerri's Korner Bookstore, Fairmont, WV


The Carrion Birds from Urban Waite, author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living, is a remarkable work of literary noir.

Hired gun Ray Lamar is ready to put his past behind him. He wants to see his twelve-year-old son and start a new life—away from the violence of the last ten years. One last heist will take him there. All he has to do is steal a rival’s stash. Simple, easy, clean. 

But when things start to go very wrong, Ray realizes the path to redemption isn’t always easy.

A soulful tale of violence, vengeance, and contrition, The Carrion Birds is an elegant depiction of one man’s last chance to make things right.

About the Author

Urban Waite is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Carrion Birds and The Terror of Living, which was named one of Esquire's Ten Best Books of 2011. His work has been a finalist for the New Mexico and Arizona Book Awards, has been translated in nine languages, and is sold worldwide. He lives in Seattle with his wife.

Praise For…

The Carrion Birds is as muscular and laconic as anything by Cormac McCarthy, yet it crackles with humanity. A-”
Entertainment Weekly

“A lean and mean, modern-day noir western filled with complex characters and situations . . . hauntingly dark and elegiac writing . . . a candidate for best crime book of 2013.”
New York Journal of Books

“[A] searing western noir. Three people face terrifying moral choices as they each wish for what they can’t have: life as it was before their small border town . . . was doomed by its dying oil economy.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Waite writes with grace and poignancy and keen comprehension of hard men in hard circumstances . . . [The] narrative rages as a perfect torrent of violence flooding toward its inevitable conclusion. Fierce and lyrical.”
Kirkus Reviews

“One fine specimen . . . with more artistry than would seem possible in a conventional thriller.”
New York Times Book Review on The Terror of Living

“In the tradition of No Country for Old Men, Urban Waite has written a nail-biter that takes off from the get-go and never stops, a book chock full of memorable characters and kick-ass writing.”
Tom Franklin on The Terror of Living

“A hell of a good novel, relentlessly paced and beautifully narrated. There’s just no let-up. Waite’s style is tight and taut. . . . Strong narrative voice, auspicious debut. . . . Awfully glad I read this one.”
Stephen King on The Terror of Living

“A smart, swiftly-paced and bloody Western for our moment. Urban Waite is a writer who won’t let a reader wander away—he keeps you reading, and reading, and rewards all your attention with a powerhouse story and prose to match.”
Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone on The Terror of Living

“Opens with gentle beauty, calm before a bloody storm, before building intensity with swift, jarring, and confident storytelling power. . . . Readers—including this one—will certainly be following Urban Waite for years to come.”
Michael Koryta, author of So Cold the River on The Terror of Living
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062216892
ISBN-10: 0062216899
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 26th, 2013
Pages: 288
Language: English