cover image The Carrion Birds

The Carrion Birds

Urban Waite. Morrow, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-221688-5

Waite follows his acclaimed first novel, 2011’s The Terror of Living, with another searing western noir. Three people face terrifying moral choices as they each wish for what they can’t have: life as it was before their small border town of Coronado, N.Mex., was doomed by its dying oil economy and the arrival of a Mexican drug cartel. Ray Lamar, a Vietnam vet who still bears the emotional scars from the revenge killing of his wife and the maiming of his infant son 12 years earlier, is now an enforcer for a local crime lord. Ray’s life has been sliding out from under him, and all he wants is to go back home to Coronado—after one last job that goes insanely wrong. Ray’s cousin Tom—who lost his sheriff’s job at the time Ray lost his family—tries to help, but the odds are stacked against them both. Meanwhile, new sheriff Edna Kelly is trapped between loyalty to the law and her sympathy for Tom, her former boss. Edna’s professional and personal defeats, Tom’s anguish, and Ray’s brutal tragedy harshly indict the social and economic forces that are fatally choking so much of the American Southwest. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Apr.)