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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Review: The Terror of Living By Urban Waite - Literary Thriller of 2011

My last review was about the first thriller I read before becoming an addict of the genre. The incredible novel I am about to present to you now is my most recent thriller read. Let us begin with a synopsis:

Hunt, an ex-convict, has spent the past twenty years on a small ranch with his wife, supplementing his income with the odd drug smuggling job.

Drake, a deputy sheriff, is newly married and has almost escaped the shadow of his father, who was also a sheriff - and no stranger to the drug trade himself...

Drake is on Hunt's trail when a big drug deal in the mountains goes awry and so begins a terrifying race against time. Although Hunt evades Drake's attempts at capture the traffickers soon unleash a merciless hired killer to reclaim what's theirs. As the chase closes in and loyalties are tested, Drake's quest for justice contends with a hitman's quest for blood, and Hunt must face a terrible choice...

The Terror of Living is Urban Waite’s debut novel, and judging by the standard of this novel, the first of many more brilliant novels to come. There is so much I like about this novel that it is difficult to know where to begin.

The first thing that stood out to me, in addition to what I think is a truly brilliant title, was the beautiful way it is written. This is a pacey thriller, but stands out for its literary prowess, which I found most attractive. The language is very descriptive, evoking a sense of place with the use of all five senses. Each phrase and sentence has been carefully crafted in a way that makes reading the novel effortless but that also shows a great deal of mastery and confidence. For me, this novel showed a higher calibre of thriller writing that I enjoyed thoroughly.

I love the characters in this novel. They are vivid, complex and human. I felt that I really managed to grasp something deeper about them; they are much more than the result of their actions. Waite makes us see them as multidimensional beings, and also leaves part of them that we are made aware of but that we cannot fully comprehend. With Hunt, I could sense that he was really a good person; involved in a bad way of life but trying to salvage something good and decent from it, a life for himself and his wife. Grady, who is by far one of the most psychologically disturbing villains I have come across since reading Allan Folsom’s novels, is a truly troubled soul. Even more disturbing, is that he is aware of it, but is so possessed and engulfed by his horrific urges that he is effectively in a battle with himself. Drake is tortured by his father’s legacy, uncertain of himself. It is though he is trying to prove something, but what and to whom? There are also strong female characters. Nora I found particularly admirable, a strong, loyal, brave and wise woman. Like all the main characters, all she is trying to find is happiness, and I think that is what makes them human and easy to empathise with. Nothing is black and white, 100% good or 100% evil.

I found in novels and movies of late that there is sometimes too much gore and bloodshed, and it is often distasteful. What I found interesting in this novel is the way in which Waite has managed to write about quite vivid, frightening and gruesome violence, in some detail, yet it was not at all distasteful. It certainly had a psychological impact, but it was done artistically. Furthermore, it is very much balanced out by the constant thread of humanity, compassion and, overall, love that appears in this novel.

I also like the way that the story is structured and how it ends. In life, things do not always go according to plan; heroes do not always behave as you expect, and a ‘happy ending’ is relative to the people involved and their situation. Waite makes the ending realistic, and in a way it is both happy and sad. It is what it is, what it must be, and sometimes you just have to get on with it and make the most of it.

The Terror of Living is an intelligent thriller and I am very grateful to Francesca Main, Commissioning Editor at Simon and Schuster UK, for donating this novel for review. I expect big things for Urban Waite, and I hope you will enjoy this novel as much as I did. The novel isn’t available until February, but you can get in touch with the publicist Nigel Stoneman for any enquiries.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book, Urban Waite has a brilliant way of using the English Language.
    I'll be linking to your post shortly when I publish my review as you seem to be on the same wavelength as me regarding this book.


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