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The Carrion Birds

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  244 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Set in a small town in the Southwest, a soulful work of literary noir rife with vengeance and contrition from a fresh voice in fiction—the author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living

Life hasn't worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower who's made some tragic mistakes, he's got one good thing going for him: he's calm and efficient under pressure, usually with
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by William Morrow (first published March 12th 2013)
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Will Byrnes
UPDATED 3/27/13 - Interview with Author Urban Waite - below review

No Country for Old Middle-Aged Men

Ray Lamar was a drug enforcer, a killer, but ten years ago it went bad, with the Juarez cartel, a rival to his boss, killing his wife and severely damaging his son in a hit-and-run. Ray had left, feeling unable to care for his son, but now he is back, and dreaming of living a legitimate life he has taken on one last job from his old gangster employer, Memo.
Ray had wanted this for so long and neve
In this second book of his he has successfully penned a tale in the tradition of No Country for Old Men a western noir, a desert plain blood drenched by a hired killer.
I enjoyed this story more than his debut The Terror of Living, his prose and characters have you hooked right until the curtain drops.
Think No Country for Old Men with a bit more humanity and likeability in the main protagonist.
The setting for this blood soaked western tale is a town Coronado, This was home once for Ray our main c
switterbug (Betsey)
As in Waite’s debut novel, THE TERROR OF LIVING, the law and the outlaw square off, complicated by a past that links two adversaries together. In both books, there are common themes and figures that propel the action. The lawman has dents in his goodness, and the outlaw has goodness in his dents. However, the first book has more of an infrastructure, and the entangled subterfuge between the two sides of the law give the reader more to chew on. CARRION BIRDS had more style than substance.

Most of
Larry Hoffer
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

There are thrillers where you haven't a clue what is going to happen, ones that keep you guessing until far into the story, if not until the end. And then there are those in which you can pretty much figure out most of what will happen, sometimes early on into the book. While the latter type of book might not seem too exciting to read, in the hands of a talented author, it can be just as compelling (if not more so) than the former. Urban Waite's The Carrion Birds definite
Deon Stonehouse
The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite 9780062216885
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 b
Jim Mcfarlane
This literary thriller and modern western, The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite, works because the literary part is mostly short descriptive phrases and a penchant for partial sentences. Whereas many thrillers are nonsensical chases in outlandish circumstances, The Carrion Birds presents real characters with human motivations and vulnerabilities in the realistic setting of New Mexican desert and scrubland where one last job will allow Ray Lamar to abandon his life of violence. The simple job goes aw ...more
Beth Olson
"The Carrion Birds" by Urban Waite chronicles four days in the life of reluctant 'gun-for-hire' Ray Lamar. Ten years after a suspicious car accident kills his wife and leaves his young son disabled, Ray agrees to one final assignment to be carried out in his hometown of Coronado, New Mexico. His hope is to put an end to the life he has been leading and reconnect with his family and to make amends to his son, Billy, who he has not seen since the loss of his wife.

Unfortunately, his appearance and
This was my first win on First Reads. This is really out of my normal zone and not a book that I would normally gravitate toward. I completed this book in two sessions. If I didn't have to work, I would have completed in one session. This is a true noir western. I had to keep looking at the picture of the author because it's hard to believe how young he is to have written such a graphic, frightening western type book that is impossible to put down! The genre reminded me of "No Country For Old Me ...more
Somewhat disappointing follow up to The Terror Of Living. I liked what was there for the most part but there just wasn't much there. The theme of failed redemption was constantly shoved in the readers face by repetitive narrative and dialogue, and the dialogue at times was a bit stilted. The book had a nice, hard edge to it but it just seemed to be lacking in character development and plot. Would probably have given it 2.5 stars if I could. Not bad but not noteworthy, either. Hoping for a strong ...more
The title probably conveys that this is a dark story. Two cousins grow up in a small New Mexico town ten miles from the border. One has made better choices in his life; the other's choices have led him to a life of crime.

The author does a good job portraying Tom and Ray and their mixture of loyalty and guilt towards each other. Ray has made some bad choices, but isn't necessarily a bad man. His choices have impacted his family and their relationships in the small town. Tom lost his job as sherif
Rod Raglin
This novel fails to satisfy on a number of levels.

First the premise.

The hero, Ray Lamar grew up in a small Texas down that prospered during an oil boom. When the wells ran out and the economy went bust Ray decided to become an enforcer for the local drug dealer. His motive appears to be that it was the only way he could make decent money to provide for his family.

Being laid off is hardly a reason to become a stone cold killer, even if you’re only killing other scumbags, but the author would hav
This book is a strange and surprising combination of starkly lovely writing and fast-paced action. Reading through I couldn't help but compare it to Breaking Bad: the showcase of human drama against the beautiful background of the Southwest, the relationship between reluctant mentor and cocky kid, the escalating toll of violence, the contrasting ties between loyalty and law. Waite's protagonist is, however, much more sympathetic than Walter White, while still managing to be pretty badass.
Robb Bridson
disclosure: I received this book for free as part of the Goodreads first reads program.

An extremely dark and atmospheric story, a crime drama with the feel of gothic horror. The setting is a town dying. The characters live their doomed lives in regret. The anticipation for an explosive, inevitable end keeps growing.
Whatever people expect, whatever hope they cling to; things just never turn out as planned.
Fernanda Mendez
Me resulto algo pesado que el libro solo este dividido en 3 días aunque me gusto como va alternando a los protagonistas.
Es una historia pues podría decirse que dura, pues nunca es fácil leer sobre narcotrafico y sobre asesinatos (sobre todo cuando lo lees a menudo en las noticias). Pero en general creo que se supo desarrollar la historia y el final me gusto pues puedo imaginar que así terminan algunas de las noticias del periódico.
Lo que no me gusto fueron las primeras paginas donde hacen las
Alice Meloy
It doesn't take very long to realize that ominous clouds are appearing on the horizon as Ray Lamar decides to bring his career of working for a drug cartel to an end with one last heist. Heading back to his former hometown in New Mexico, where his 12-year old disabled son lives with Ray's father and uncle, Ray has finally decided to settle down. But his plans are sabotaged, and despite his talent for getting out of sticky situations, one bad thing happens after another, and Ray finds his own lif ...more
Fast -paced page turner full of the beauty of the hills of New Mexico, the drug cartel and a man who couldn't seem to find his way out of life of "wrongs". A story of vengeance, violence and contrition that I thoroughly enjoyed from the first page.
I registered to win this book because of the cool cover and when I received notification that I had won I wasn't overly excited about it but still glad nonetheless. When I started reading it, I was sucked in. You will end up rooting for the people you normally want to see dead. You will see how far family lines can be drawn before finally breaking the ties. You will see a small town dealing with problems that are way to big for it. You get to see revenge in the classic "kill 'em all" way." All o ...more
Torben Henning, sf magazin
Nur noch ein letztes Mal
Mit einem letzten Akt der Gewalt der Gewalt entsagen. Geht ja immer schief, dieses Motiv in der Kriminalliteratur. In "Wüste der Toten" geht leider gleich das gesamte Buch mit schief.
>>> Besprechung ...
The choices we make shape our future and sometimes we can't get away from them. I loved that this book isn't a happy ending rather a story of one man's life choices and the consequences that follow. He's a bad man who has done bad things yet you read on hoping to see him turn his life around - does he or doesn't he - that is the question waiting to be answered.
I liked this one. The writing is sparse and noir-ish, occasionally with incomplete sentences, which bothered me a bit at first, but I soon got used to it. Some of the secondary characters are not well defined and a bit generic. But the story is interesting and a page-turner. Waite's style really propels the action forward in a very cinematic way. There's a big gun battle action sequence toward the end which I can totally visualize. In fact, the book would seem to lend itself very well to a film ...more
H R Koelling
I have no idea why so many people like this book. I thought it was dull, and the action was so few and far between that I fell asleep several times waiting for something to happen. What I really disliked about this novel was all of the internal dialogue and recapping of events, which dragged on the momentum. Maybe it is a great book, but I just didn't connect with it, primarily because I normally do not read this kind of book. I didn't find the writing particularly stellar, either. There were se ...more
Strong characterization and vivid description of life lives caught up in the drug wars along the US-Mexican border. I was disappointed the characters didn't learn more from their experiences. Similar to McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" without the lessons on life in the end.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MSJ (Sarah)
I won this book via First Reads Giveaway. Thank you (or no thank you, after all).

Abandoned at about the halfway mark when I realized how much displeasure I was experiencing reading this book. The Carrion Birds is one of those books that I couldn't wait to read but once I started it was not at all what I expected. The writing is poor and the characterizations are flat and confusing. Some people compare this to No Country for Old Men which I believe is a disservice to Cormac. Urban Waite does not
I wanted to like this book, I like noir fiction but this book never captured me and drew me into it. I felt nothing for the characters and even went back a couple of times and asked so who is this again? Just not my book. Maybe a movie or TV show might be more engaging for me. The novel just never came alive.
Jun 10, 2013 Darlene rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adult
Shelves: first-reads
Rec'd this book as a First read from the author. Thank you so much for allowing me to read your book. I must say that it is a very interesting book. The characters, plot and story line are so very real that it is believable.
The story starts out as Ray Lamar -a windower and father gets back into the bussiness with Meno again. He thought he was done with those days- Meno sent along a young man that Ray was suppose to teach - but instead Meno set ray up.
From there the story just gets more interes
Dan Coxon
Urban Waite's second novel revisits some of the same territory as his first, but this time the action takes place down south in New Mexico. When a drug delivery goes wrong events quickly spiral out of control, sucking an entire town into a maelstrom of death and destruction.

Waite's prose is as lean and as muscular as before, but here you'll find him starting to discover his own voice. The location and the story have been seen before - yet The Carrion Birds feels fresh and original in its executi
A nice atmospheric, desert-noir crime story reminiscent of Cormac Macarthy for the setting and grittiness.
When I received a copy of Carrion Birds by Urban Waite I pondered whether or not it could live up to my expectations of Waite’s writing in his previous book, The Terror of Living, happily Carrion Birds is indeed a well written, suspense thriller. I do not often read such violent books dealing with drug trafficking, and maybe that is one component to my enjoying Waite’s books so much, but I rather think it is because he is a superb storyteller with a solid combination of well developed characters ...more
Good thriller! Very quick paced and exciting! The plot moves right along! At first I had an uh-oh moment, when I felt like the main character, Ray, was just a copy of Clint Eastwood's character in Unforgiven, even saying things like, "I'm not like that anymore." But that passed quickly, and Ray got to business! His path of revenge and its connection with his cousin make for a rollicking ride through dusty roads and ranch lands of New Mexico. Love the vengeance and the brutality of the actions of ...more
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Urban Waite is the author of The Terror of Living, named one of Esquire's Ten Best Books of the year. His latest book is The Carrion Birds, an Indie Next Pick and the recipient of starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. His short fiction has appeared in the Best of the West anthology, the Southern Review, and other journals. He has degrees from the University of Washington, Western Wa ...more
More about Urban Waite...
The Terror of Living Sometimes the Wolf Dead If I Don't Don't Look Away Haaskalinnut

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