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Book Review: The Terror of Living by Urban Waite

It’s always great to read a debut that has been well executed on every level. Therefore, as soon as Urban Waite’s new thriller, “The Terror of Living”, arrived at the store, I couldn’t wait to crack it open to see if it lived up to the words of praise on the cover by Daniel Woodrell and Stephen King no less.

The Terror of Living” already had a headstart before I even started reading it and that was the setting of the story, which is the rugged terrain of the northwestern United States. I really like how some authors can bring out the terrain and the climate in their stories as if they were characters in the book. Urban Waite has managed to do just that with his spot-on description of the area.

Just about each and every character in the book took a hold of me from the get-go. I already knew that I was going to finish this book even if it was only to find out how the relationship between Drake, the deputy, and Hunt, the drug smuggler, would develop and come to a collision. Another main character in the book to which I took a liking was the twisted assassin Grady Fisher who is hired to tie up a few loose ends of a drug deal gone bad. Fisher has more than a few screws loose and, together with his bag of knives, causes a number of memorable unsettling moments in the book.

As I was making my way through the book I did think that Waite sometimes meandered a bit too much during some of the conversations and thoughts of his characters (note that most of the books I read tend to put the pedal to the metal from beginning to end). However, when I finished the book and noticed Cormac McCarthy was mentioned as one of the writers that laid the foundation for “The Terror of Living” in the acknowledgements it provided me with a better understanding of Waite’s style and it put everything in a different perspective for me. I ultimately found that “The Terror of Living” does a terrific job of exploring the gray area between right and wrong and that couldn’t have been done without exploring the human psyche.

It’s easy to draw comparisons between this book and McCarthy’s book “No Country for Old Men”. Waite uses plenty of description in his debut, which is also the case in McCarthy’s novels, but even the subject matter in both books flows along the same lines. However, since I did not read “No Country…” this did not pose a problem for me in the slightest.

‘The Terror of Living’ really won me over. The setting, the characters and the ambiance all really came together and Urban Waite expertly built up to an explosive finale. I will definitely keep an eye on Urban Waite’s future works.

Reviewed by: Ronald Rynart – Lattes and Literature

Book Details
Release Date: Feb 07, 2011;
Title: The Terror of Living
Writer: Urban Waite;
Genres: Fiction, Mystery and Thriller;
Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Available at Lattes and Literature