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The Far Empty

(Chris Cherry #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,048 ratings  ·  171 reviews
In this gritty crime debut set in the stark Texas borderlands, an unearthed skeleton will throw a small town into violent turmoil.

Seventeen-year-old Caleb Ross is adrift in the wake of the sudden disappearance of his mother more than a year ago, and is struggling to find his way out of the small Texas border town of Murfee. Chris Cherry is a newly minted sheriff’s deputy
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published January 1st 2016)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,048 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
It all starts when a skeleton is found in Murfee, Texas. Secrets start coming out and they aren't unicorn farts.
You have the sheriff..or as he is known around town as the "Judge."

His deputy-Chris Cherry, who had left small town life with big hopes for a football scholarship when an injury brought him back home and he ended up working on the police force in the small town.

Another deputy, who is dark as night and dreams sometimes that he is a wolf. (Drugs do that shit to you kids) I totally saw hi
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
To put this book into cowboy terms - it was more hat than cattle.

Caleb Ross is a high school student in a Texas town near the border which his father, the sheriff, rules by playing the classic western lawmen. However, Caleb knows that his father has a secret sinister side, and that he may have killed Caleb’s mother who he claims abandoned them both. New deputy Chris Cherry is a former football hero who has just returned home after an injury ended his playing days, and both he and his girlfriend
Dan Schwent
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
When Deputy Chris Cherry finds some skeletal remains on a ranch, it sets him on a collision course with the law of Murfee, Texas in the form of renowned sheriff Standford "Judge" Ross, local hero. Ross's son Caleb carries a horrible secret, that his father is crazier than a shithouse rat...

I've read hundreds of mysteries and thrillers, so many that there aren't a whole lot of surprises left and I've gradually shifted toward horror. This one had enough twists and turns to make me rethink things.

May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing much interesting happens in Murfee. Nothing much anyone knows about, anyway. Time here is like a bug trapped in amber…Come back a year from now, ten years from now, and Murfee would seem exactly the same. You would be wrong. Our town does a pretty good job of holding her secrets close.

I picked this book up at the bookstore completely on a whim. I didn’t know anything about it, had never heard of it. Being from Texas though, I was intrigued by the Texas border town setting. Though fictiti
switterbug (Betsey)
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
First time author and DEA federal agent J. Todd Scott has truly captured the wide out far empty of Big Bend and the borderlands of Mexico--the endless sky, the Rio Grande, and mountains “painted purple and charcoal in the background.” The fictional town is Murfee, Texas. His trenchant descriptions are vivid, alive, and gothic, and I understand why comparisons to Cormac McCarty are bandied about. It’s his use of physical landscape to evoke dark, biblical, and pagan imagery. However, Scott is a ma ...more
David Joy
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Balancing both the brutal and beautiful, J. Todd Scott has delivered a story that hangs around the neck long after the final page. Fearless, searing prose that reeks of honesty, THE FAR EMPTY is as gritty and raw as sun-scorched earth.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Donald Ray Pollock and Daniel Woodrell
Recommended to Still by: Goodreads friends

Fast-paced, action-packed, ultra-violent grit-noir, Texas-style.
This novel begins as a missing persons story but unfolds via multiple narratives into an epic tale of murder and mayhem and more.

Very impressive debut novel. Beautiful writing for such a violent story.
It reminded me at times of Donald Ray Pollock and I mean that as a compliment to the author.

If you can find a copy of this on-line or in a real, 20th century-style bookstore, buy it and treat yourself.
You will not be disappointed.

Baker St Shelves
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I was bored with this one. Once again we have a problem with pacing and all the characters were just two dimensional and all just blend together after awhile. Skip it.
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, mexico-us
So much time and effort goes into getting a book cover right so when one catches my eye I think it deserves a mention. The cover has to convey something about the book, as well as making sure it appeals to a potential reader, because if it's not right it can be the death of a book. I always tell customers (especially if they're looking at a book with a spectacular cover) that, you can tell a publisher believes in the author from the quality of the cover... So to The Far Empty... I love the cover ...more
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow - what a rip roaring ride this was!

This is quite a debut doorstopper bit of craziness from DEA agent/author J. Todd Scott.

It takes place near the Texas/Mexico border in southwestern Texas near Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. Even though the area is fictionalized in THE FAR EMPTY, it is still possible to get a very intimate feeling of what this stark, beautiful area of Texas is like.

The book is told in differing viewpoints, switching narrators for each chapter. I liked
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Strong start on what I thought would be explosive crime fiction on the West Texas border. Unfortunately, the last two thirds of the book degenerated into an endless prelude to a weak endgame. Seems to me a modern day Western about a homicidal sheriff and his psychotic deputy should pivot on the action. I do think however, this 400 page book would have benefited greatly from sharper editing by constructing lean and mean prose in a fast moving thriller - but that's just me!
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, western
About the best prologue I’ve read kick-starts you into a present-day, dusty, crime-ridden Texas border town. Alternate narrators—including four woman—weave a complex story where the question is not so much “who” as “why”? The pace speeds up throughout, so the final question is “how many will have to die to get there?”

The author was a cop, then a DEA agent. But I’ll bet he detoured through the Iowa Writer’s Conference before this, his excellent first book.
Alex Carbo
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
UPDATE (my 1 third progress is reviewed below)

Depending on how well young debut writers, especially the Grit-Lit kind do with adversity, J. Todd. Scott must be a nightmare for their self confidence. This debut novel is not only, in my opinion, the best debut novel published thus far in 2016, it is the best debut novel i've read in my entire life since A Time To Kill. Either you compare yourself to someone who might rank in the best of its kind already and you feel sorry for your writing, or you
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Far Empty is the first published novel of J. Todd Scott and one of those novels that is so good, you have a hard time believing it is the author's first novel.

What a treat to delve into.

If you have seen John Sayles' movie Lonestar or No Country For Old Men by the Cohen's brothers, then you will certainly enjoy this book.

The far reaching story is a tale of the modern, hard land in Texas, where those that try to do what is right seem to have roadblocks thrown up in front of them at every po
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There is a new cowboy crime boss in town and he is J. Todd Scott. The Far Empty goes to a hardscrabble small town in the dessicated borderlands of Texas where lives intersect in corruption, delusion and flickering hope. This book was so good I wanted to eat it. I imagine it would taste like campfire beans with too much sand blown in and spiced with cordite, kickbacks and damaged goods.
Michael Martz
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure I've read a better debut than 'The Far Empty'. J. Todd Scott's novel is set in today's far West Texas, which may be closer to its previous self than any other place in the country. Cowboys, the Law, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, good guys, bad guys.... not too far removed from the days of 'High Noon'.

The Far Empty is wide in its scope, but it starts small. Skeletal remains are found in a remote area, identification is almost impossible, so it's treated by the local sheriff as someth
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gripping. I really could not put it down. Bad men...... and of course at least one good deputy made the story.
Sam Sattler
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
J. Todd Scott has worked as a DEA agent for over twenty years and has put that experience to good use in The Far Empty, his debut novel set in far West Texas. Murfee, Texas, may be fictional but it is obvious to anyone familiar with that part of the state that it would fit right in near the actual cities found there (Scott, in fact, notes in his Acknowledgements that the town is “stitched together” from places found in the West Texas counties of Presidio and Brewster).

Murfee is one of those tow
Phil Melton
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable novel. Don Winslow meets Friday Night Lights.
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
While attending this year's Tucson Festival Of Books, a female author I'd never heard of grabbed me by the shoulder exclaiming, if you like those books in your arms (5), you must read, "The Far Empty", by J. Todd Scott. Curious and judging by the cover I felt it looked liked a 'Longmire' copycat. Three or four others at the booth explained this one was completely different, and an excellent read. Had to be read ! So I brought it home to Pennsylvania with me. Taking place in fictional Murffee, Te ...more
Ross Cumming
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve had this book in my ‘to read’ lost for some time and the reason I hadn’t read it was because I didn’t really like the cover but how wrong could I be and I see why you should never judge a book by its cover !
‘Judge’ Ross is the Sheriff of the Texas border town of Murfee and outwardly he’s a ‘good old boy’ and knows everybody’s business in his town. However his son Caleb knows there is a different side to his father and is still grieving following the disappearance of his mother, just over a
Jennie Rosenblum
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a 5 Star gem hiding on my to be read shelf. This book is an intense 432 pages that I carried with me for two days getting any moment I could to jump back in.

The story is told from the small Texas border town of Murfee. Caleb, a 17 year old whose mother has run off and father who’s the Sheriff is the only character we see in the first person. The Sheriff controls the town and the people in it almost like a puppet master. The new deputy, an old football hero home with a bad knee, a schoo
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scott
twelve seventeen pee em, groundhog's day, the 2nd of february 2018, friday afternoon, just finished, great story, four stars, i really liked loaner, first from scott for me...i think it is also his first story. good read.
Andrew Schneider
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant debut. I can't wait to see what Todd does next.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to believe this well-crafted crime thriller is a debut novel. The author’s experience as a DEA agent lends authority to his prose, and his meticulous rendering of the Big Bend country south and east of El Paso, Texas, and its fictional town, Murfee, takes you to that dusty back-of-beyond. Outlaw country.
The two key voices in this multiple point-of-view novel are those of 17-year-old Caleb Ross, son of Big Bend County’s despotic sheriff, who’s called “the Judge,” and new deputy Chris C
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Read this review (and others) at:

The Far Empty came into my possession thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.

The summary for The Far Empty describes the story as “a modern Western”, a pinpoint summary of the novel. Author J. Todd Scott’s descriptions paint a vivid imagery of the desolate Texas landscape. In west Texas near the border it is not exactly a peaceful area as the border is ripe with people coming into the US, both individuals seeking a better life in
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
From the lurid cover - featuring a skeletal hand gripping a handgun emblazoned with skulls - one would expect The Far Empty to be a pulpy, bloody noir. One would be mistaken. J. Todd Scott's novel is a modern, revisionist Western set in Murfee, Texas (hint: It's Marfa) and examines the fallout among multiple characters after a body is unearthed on a borderland ranch.

Some of the back cover blurbs ingeniously compare this novel to Cormac McCarthy's works (I guess because it's set in far West Texas
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book, but I will thank Scott for helping me realized that the psychotic small-town Texas sheriff has become an American cliche (see Jim Thompson's "Pop 1280" and "The Killer Inside Me," as well as the middling 90's indie "Lone Star"). In fact, Scott dredges up every cliche in Texas fiction like a coyote digging up Indian bones in a desert - the bloody history, the co-dependency with Mexico, football, oil fields, the big sky, the million stars, yadda yadda yadda. A writer with ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
The Far Empty is packaged as Noir story set among the borderlands of West Texas. This story is about Caleb Ross and Chris Cherry. Both of whom are wary of one person; Caleb’s father & Chris’ boss Sheriff Standford “Judge” Ross.

The story is a dark one and follows the trail of a possible murder from a year ago. The plot does its best to follow all of its noir threads and one of the stickiest parts is that almost all chapters have different POVs. This aspect is a bit jarring as not only are you
R.S. Dabney
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was exciting from page one all the way until the end, and I had a hard time putting it down in between the two.

As someone who lives in "The Far Empty," the Big Bend Region of Texas, I felt the descriptions and characterization of the area were spot on. Even though fictitious, I found it totally believable.

The story is told through multiple POV's which I find incredibly interesting. Getting into the minds of each character including the villain, where we sort of know what is going on th
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J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S and the world, but a badge and gun never replaced his passion for books and writing. He now resides in the American Southwest, and when he’s not hunting down very bad men, he’s ...more

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Chris Cherry (2 books)
  • High White Sun
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“It was impossible to see where the highway ended and heaven began—as if a huge eraser had dragged across the edge of the world.” 0 likes
“it. I once read in some fantasy book about a phylactery, a place or an object where a creature can hide its soul, protecting it from death. As long as the phylactery is safe, the creature can never truly die. It lives on, rising again and again.” 0 likes
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