Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Book Review: "A Promise to Kill" by Erik Storey
Clyde Barr is a solitary man, but one who understands the meaning of loyalty. It's not so much that he never shies away from a fight, it's just he is very committed to making sure that the little guy, such as it is, doesn't get taken advantage of. It was the hallmark of his time as a mercenary of sorts in Africa, the Middle East, and South America, and he paid the price for it at one point, with a stint in a Mexican jail.
Barr is wandering in the Utah desert, alone with a horse and a mule, planning to clear his mind and do some hunting. He runs into an elderly Native American man from the nearby Ute reservation who is in the throes of a medical emergency and rushes him to the hospital, despite the man's reluctance to be off the rez. At the hospital, he meets the old man's daughter, Lawana, a doctor at the reservation's clinic, and his grandson Taylor. Seeing that they're in need of help at the family's ranch, Barr agrees to stay on to help until the man is on his feet again. Although Lawana doesn't quite trust him, she is in desperate need of help.
It isn't long before Barr notices the reservation is in some trouble: a group of bikers has overrun the place, filling the community with fear and violence. The one tribal policeman can't do anything about it because he can't arrest white men, and the government won't get involved in cases like these. Despite his instincts to try and solve the crisis and send the bikers on their way, Barr tries to lay low and focus on working the ranch, but it isn't long before the bikers attack a local boy, and send Barr's temper skyrocketing. Lawana warns him not to make trouble, but avoiding trouble isn't what makes him tick.
As Barr and some local tribe members prepare to do battle, he discovers that the reason the bikers have taken over the reservation and refuse to stay isn't just a penchant for violence and a need for power: there are more nefarious elements involved, and the threat actually ranges far beyond the reservation itself. When his actions put Lawana and Taylor in danger, Barr knows he must act and act quickly, but is this an enemy he can beat? Can one man really protect an entire town? Will the members of the tribe rally around an outsider?
I really enjoyed this book and read the entire thing in one sitting on a plane ride. The action sequences really kept the story rolling along to its conclusion, and while I wasn't surprised by much of what happened (and wondered if one whole plot element was even necessary), I was pretty hooked anyway. Storey writes really good thrillers, also evidenced by the first book in his Barr series, Nothing Short of Dying (see my original review).
As I mentioned earlier, the book doesn't spend a lot of time in backstory, which suits this book well. This is one you can pick up even if you didn't read Storey's first book in the series. This type of drifter-ish character, like a Lee Reacher, is always fascinating, and Storey has definitely created a memorable member of that group. If you like this genre, check this guy out.
NetGalley and Scribner provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!