Book Review: The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

They say you can’t go home again, and man this book drives that point home with a gun shot to the gut.  This book was released in 2013 and has been on my radar for sometime.

Our protagonist is Ray who has left his hometown 10 years ago.  We slowly learn through out the book why he left in little flashbacks to the fateful time.  Ray has some military experience, and I felt this was important to the character’s background.  This explains why his boss hired him to begin with, his sense of loyalty to his family, and his never die attitude.

Tom is Ray’s cousin and is also an interesting character.  He was the Sheriff of Coronado, New Mexico our hero’s hometown.  He was kicked off the force 10 years ago and has been trying to get back on the police force ever since.  We soon find out the 10 year mark that we see Ray leave town and Tom lose his job are because of the same event.  Tom and Ray are the same age and though they are cousins they grew up very close and are more like brothers.

This story starts out with Ray taking one last job, classic last words in the world of noir.  Ray is to do one last heist with his bosses inexperienced nephew.  They are to heist a large amount of drugs near Coronado, this will give Ray a little money to start fresh back in his hometown and the 10 years away should have been enough time for things to blow over.  When the heist goes down, Ray recognizes the driver and soon realizes things are not going to be as easy as he imagined.

As Ray tries to finish his job so he can start over and get his family life right, things just continue to go wrong for him.  We also find Tom torn between doing the right thing so he can work his way back onto the police force or helping his cousin do what he needs to.

It took me longer then normal to get through this book, partly due to spring activities and partly because I could easily tear myself away from this book to do other things.  This wasn’t the page turner I was hoping for, this took some effort to read.  The story is very good and so is the story telling, but it did take me some extra effort for the payoff.  I think this is for fans of  people who like Cormac McCarthy.  I’m not the first to say this about Waite and maybe that stuck in my mind, but it seems to fit.  This book is in development to be made into a movie.  I hope this isn’t put in development purgatory like a lot of great books out there, because I think this could make a great film in the right hands.

Review: Cut Bank


Cut Bank is a country noir written by Roberto Patino.  Patino has also worked on Sons of Anarchy and Prime Suspect so he has some good experience with crime and drama.  Patino looks to be also working on bringing The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite to the screen.  This book is on my to-read list and I hope to review it later on this blog.

Matt Shakman is the director, it is his first feature, but he is an accomplished television director.  Because he has worked on so many different kinds of television, he brings a little of everything to the film.  We have some black comedy, western, thriller and noir elements through out.

Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer play our young couple that are desperate to leave the small town of Cut Bank, MT.  Even though they may be our lead characters, they may be the most boring ones of the film.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Palmer’s father and Hemsworth’s boss.  He doesn’t see much screen time but his interactions with Malkovich are great.

John Malkovich worked as a fire fighter in Glacier Park and actually lived in Cut Bank for a short time when he was in college.  He really wanted to do this film based on his love for the little town of Cut Bank and stayed attached to the project for over 2 years to be in it.  Malkovich plays the local sheriff, that is a fish out of water with this being his first murder case.

Michael Stuhlbarg may be the smallest name on the cast, but plays one of the most interesting parts.  He is a recluse in Cut Bank.  I don’t know if his character is based on real life serial killer Ed Gain, but if it is not, there are many similarities.  Ed Gain is also the basis for Norman Bates in Psycho, Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and has also had his likeness appear in many other movies and documentaries.

Bruce Dern plays the mailman that everybody recognizes by sight, but not to many people really know.

Oliver Platt plays the post office official sent up from Washington D.C. to give a reward for the evidence of the crime.

I can not find who played the big mute Native American, but he was a cool character and I loved his non-verbal dialog.

So the story starts out with our lead couple in an open field, daydreaming about their future.  As Palmer practices her speech for an upcoming beauty pageant and Hemsworth films it, he notices a hooded man walk up to the mail man and shot him 2 times in the chest and gets the whole thing on film.  They take the evidence into town and turn it over to the Sheriff. The plot thickens and twists and turns as we try to figure out who’s on who’s side and who knows what.  By the way, what is in that lunch box?  This is a good story in a unique setting, worth watching for anybody looking for something new to watch in the genre.