| AandE

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Lives in 'Carrion Birds' as barren as Western landscape

‘The Carrion Birds'

Author: Urban Waite

Publisher: William Morrow, $25.99, 288 pages

By Oline H. Cogdill
Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A criminal who vows to go straight after that one last job is a tried and true idea, but Urban Waite makes the idea seem fresh as he adds the disintegrating of a family to his plot.

Akin to the brutal yet solid storytelling of the movie “The Wild Bunch” and Jim Thompson's “The Getaway,” Waite delves into Western noir as he looks at destructive moral dilemmas.

More than 12 years ago, Ray Lamar left his home of Coronado, N.M., after his wife was killed and his toddler son left brain damaged in a car crash. Her death was retaliation against Ray by a drug cartel. All these years, Ray hasn't seen his son, whom he left in the care of his aged father, nor his cousin, Tom, with whom he was raised like twins. In a misguided attempt to help Ray, Tom went after a suspected drug dealer; an incident that eventually cost Tom his job as the local sheriff and has “forever defined his life.”

Ray plans to do one last job for a crime boss. But Ray has barely begun before everything goes horribly wrong. Both cousins want the kind of life that they can never have because it was torn apart by violence. Added to the mix is Edna Kelly, the current sheriff who is loyal to Tom, her former boss, but also to enforcing the law. Her professionalism and compassion add texture to the tale.

Set in a dying town where dried up oil wells and abandoned homes dot the landscape, “The Carrion Birds” uses the barren area as a metaphor for the characters' lives. Waite makes the reader feel the arid desert while making an unlikable character such as Ray sympathetic. “The Carrion Birds” moves briskly, with an unflinching brutality.

Oline H. Cogdill is a staff writer for the Sun Sentinel (South Florida).



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Police seize phones of some Norwin High School students
  2. 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
  3. Alleged abuse by Franciscan friar nets $8M for 88 former students
  4. Cranberry: Construction restrictions lifted on Route 228
  5. Rookie Bryant sparks deep passing game for Steelers in victory
  6. Tuesday - October 21, 2014
  7. Point Breeze couple surprised with 2nd honeymoon by Ellen DeGeneres
  8. Tomlin: Possible Steelers midseason surge won’t come easy vs. Colts
  9. Pitt to play Notre Dame 5 times over next 11 seasons
  10. 8 selected thus far for jury in Ferrante trial
  11. Grant to help CMU spinoff start production
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.