book reviews, books, Uncategorized

Dead If I Don’t by Urban Waite



Life hasn’t worked out the way Ray planned. Ten years ago he had a wife, a job, a child. Now he has nothing. And nothing to lose.

He is back in his home town of Coronado for one last job. Just one small job and that will be the end of it.

But in the past ten years the rules have changed. Today nothing is the same. And as Ray’s past is dug up, he discovers that perhaps there is something worth fighting for after all. Something he almost lost, and something he will not give up on again…

This book has a lean intensity to it. I look at these sorts of books, notionally crime but they also work as examinations of regret and parables about violence and masculinity. Menancholic rather than melancholic but carrying that buzzsaw hum of violence and set in the perennial horror show of the mexican drug cartel business.

Waite writes with a minimalism that allows the book to proceed at a fast pace, and the events occur, in such a way that it almost made me wonder if I was reading a sequel. The background details and history are so well established I wondered if there was a predecessor to this book. There is a tragedy to this book that lends a profound weight but Waite keeps the whole thing humming and moving with a momentum that lends it a grim foreboding.

There is a refreshing logic to the ending of the book, although it does tend to detract from the power and intensity that he established earlier. It’s good, solid work and yet it lacks the real viciousness that would take it up a notch. It’s solid noir but not the kind of writing that would really mark it out as the work of someone that I would actively seek out again. It is professional, elegant writing and good craft but it did not resonate, haunt or appall me in the way that other crime novels have.

It is a good book, solid and a pleasant afternoon’s diversion but nothing that truly stayed with me.




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