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The Carrion Birds: A Novel

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  320 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
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. Simpl
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by William Morrow (first published March 12th 2013)
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Will Byrnes
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 never known how to do it, something so simple, a visit to see his son
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, noir, thriller
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 H
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-dark, fiction
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
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
3.5 stars. Good story. Its well written and set in NM!
Beth Olson
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read-books
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
May 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worked-on
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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A nicely paced "thriller" that reminded me of Wiley Cash's writing. Instead of the South we have the West with troubled souls: two cousins whose decisions are interlinked and have set them on paths of self destruction. This book is one train wreck from start to finish and the body count keeps going up but Waite keeps you guessing. It also reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" with its tragedy and pervasive sense of futility of the main characters.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, owned
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.
Amicus (David Barnett)
Extremely readable but very dark story of two cousins, whose lives are changed forever when one of them sets off a train of horrifying events involving multiple deaths. Although a well written story it might distress the more sensitive reader. The events take place in New Mexico in dying town whose primary employer, an oil company, is shutting down its worked out wells, leaving the town a prey to Mexican drug runners. The ending is particularly violent.
Cindy Kirkland
Mar 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It took me forever to read this because it was sooooooo awful. It was repetitive, yes we all know how bad Ray feels and how his life turned out, was it necessary to repeat it over and over, we all know how bad Ray feels and how his life turned out, we all know how bad Ray felt about how his life turned get it, right? The ending was TERRIBLE. Ray walks away and.......what? The whole book was full of violence but suddenly at the end there is none? What? It was awful, I would not recomme ...more
John McKenna
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mysterious Book Report No. 116
by John Dwaine McKenna
A lot of folks in America don’t seem to be aware of it, or maybe they just don’t care since it’s not on their front stoop, but a war unlike any we’ve ever had is raging inside our nation. It’s called the War on Drugs . . . and we’re losing it. Certain parts of our cities are the scenes of daily urban combat between different gangs competing for drug territory. The focal point of the entire war however, is in the American southwest, along the Ca
Melissa Burke
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway (kind of a long time ago actually... whoops).

Okay so honestly I got 12 pages in and had to stop. I have nothing against the story itself I don't think? Not up to that point anyway. I'm sure the plot, etc. is fine. It's the writing style itself I just couldn't take anymore..

There are SO many sentence fragments. Um. I don't know if that's the correct term. Incomplete sentences? Or maybe I just mean confusing sentences. I'll just give some examples bec
Rod Raglin
Jul 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, first-reads
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
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
Dan Downing
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
his is Waite's second effort and it is a strong one. It can fairly be called a border noir, something I seem to be stumbling into these days, probably because it is so popular a setting and genre. Unfortunately, there were a number of typos, including an entire paragraph which contained no sentences and a sentence interrupted by a period because of a proper noun in its midst. More annoying is the author's---and apparently the whole mess of people he thanks in the Acknowledgments---ignorance of f ...more
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
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, crime
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
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice Meloy
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dan Coxon
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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