The Terror of Living by Urban Waite

He just wanted someone to tell him he was a good man, that he’d done his job, that somehow it mattered. – Bobby Drake

Deputy Sheriff Bobby Drake is a man with a tremendous chip on his shoulder. Once a promising college football player, his life was turned upside down when his father, Sheriff at the time, was busted for running drugs across the US/Canada border. Drake returned home to his small hometown in Washington State and took a job as a deputy sheriff, determined to restore honor to his name and prove he’s a better man than his father.

Phil Hunt is also a man struggling hard to make amends in his life. A 10 year prison stint for manslaughter has rendered him all but unemployable, and along with his wife Hunt now ekes out a meager living by running a horse farm. The money not being quite enough, Hunt supplements the family income by picking up shipments of drugs dropped deep in the forest just inside the border and delivering them to a distributor. It’s a process that’s worked smoothly for Hunt for nearly two decades. He even had a tacit understanding with Drake’s father…but Drake isn’t his father.

When Drake notices a truck and horse trailer parked on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere his radar goes on high alert. After the truck doesn’t move overnight, Drake packs up his gear and heads into the forest to find out just what’s going on. What he finds is Hunt and a partner collecting a drug shipment and, a few shots later, Hunt’s low key courier job has gone seriously sideways.

Now Hunt’s on the run from Drake, who wants to arrest him, and his drug connection, who want the shipment Hunt no longer has. As if that wasn’t enough to make Hunt’s life difficult, the dealers send a hitman, a particularly nasty piece of work named Grady, into the fray to tie up all loose ends. What follows is an overlapping game of cat-and-mouse amongst the players that unfolds at a suffocatingly relentless pace.

And yet, for all the action present in The Terror of Living – and there’s quite a bit, some of it extremely graphic – it is the wonderfully developed characters that ultimately drive the story. Hunt and Drake are both haunted by events from the past, but striving to move forward with some semblance of a normal life. Both men also draw strength and purpose from their wives, each of whom acts as the moral compass that keeps their husband from going completely off the rails.

That The Terror of Living is author Urban Waite’s first novel is quite an accomplishment, especially considering it is deservedly drawing comparisons to No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy; not too bad for your first rodeo. With a tour de force debut like this, it’s scary to think what Waite will serve up next. I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting.

The Terror of Living is available from Little, Brown and Company (ISBN: 978-0316097895).

Urban Waite was born and grew up in Seattle. He has received degrees in writing from University of Washington, Western Washington University, and Emerson College. His short fiction has appeared in The Best of the West Anthology, The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Meridian, and many other places. After several years in Boston, he now lives in his hometown, Seattle. You can connect with Urban on his official Facebook page.

The Terror of Living was one of my Top 10 Reads of 2011

– The Terror of Living by Urban Waite –


  • Elyse/Pop Culture Nerd

    February 16, 2011 - 4:54 PM

    I have this in my TBR stack because it scares me a little (NO COUNTRY–the movie, anyway–gave me nightmares). Your review makes it sound gripping so I may have to get over myself.

  • Charles Wingfield

    February 14, 2011 - 2:15 PM

    Elizabeth, thanks for bringing this book to my attention. Love hearing about ‘new authors.’ Can’t wait to pick this up and see more from Urban Waite.

  • C.A.Newman

    February 14, 2011 - 2:05 PM

    I’ve been so busy and now I’m sooo behind on books.. but yet you keep on adding to my list!!! Daaaaaamn yooooou, Beth!!!!

    ….I mean.. thanks!! 😉

  • Erin

    February 14, 2011 - 10:30 AM

    I’m SO glad you reviewed this one! I’ve had it on the shelf for a bit now, but wasn’t sure…always nervous of first novels. Now I’ll move it up the list 🙂

    • Elizabeth A. White

      February 14, 2011 - 10:34 AM

      You won’t be disappointed. And it’s a one sitting kind of read, so plan accordingly. 😉

  • Lucious Lamour

    February 14, 2011 - 9:15 AM

    Sounds like a really cool book. Interesting about the comparisons to No Country for Old Men. Love it. Have to check this out! Thanks for the heads up!

    • Elizabeth A. White

      February 14, 2011 - 9:24 AM

      I think you will really enjoy it. And though the McCarthy comparison is valid, make no mistake that Waite has a style and voice all his own.

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