New Fiction: She Rides Shotgun – Jordan Harper


Screenwriter Harper was well-reviewed for his terrific debut story collection, Love and Other Wounds, inspiring comments like this from PW: “Harper kicks the door of crime fiction off its splintered frame.”

The promise of that collection is realized in this explosive first novel which received three starred advance reviews. The set-up sounds something like Paper Moon blasted against the hyperviolent universe of Breaking Bad. After making enemies with a gang called Aryan Steel, Nate McClusky is released from prison to find his ex-wife dead and the gang looking for his young daughter. Nate scoops up the shy, smart Polly from school and the two go on the run from both Aryan Steel and the police.

Kirkus notes in its starred review that “The novel combines striking images…with disturbingly raw violence.”  But the real surprise here is not the adrenaline-fueled escapades and violence. It’s the way Jordan is able to develop the relationship between this absent father and his young daughter—and his portrayal of a shy kid turning into a strong heroine who has her own sense of grit and honor.

Harper’s writing is not for the faint of heart but this is a rewarding read from an author to watch.

At the start of Harper’s visceral, pulpy, vernacular-filled first novel, introspective 11-year-old Polly McClusky has an unexpected reunion on the steps of her Southern California middle school with her estranged father…. Nate, Polly, and her stuffed bear, who serves to articulate the swirling emotions that Polly hesitates to voice, go on the run, sought by not only the gang but also Det. John Park, who’s investigating the murders. Nate and Polly’s relationship blooms, despite their being in constant crisis-survival mode…. Expert pacing and well-developed characters lift this above the thriller pack.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“From its bravura prologue to its immensely satisfying ending, this first novel comes out with guns blazing and shoots the chambers dry. It’s both a dark, original take on the chase novel and a strangely touching portrait of a father-daughter relationship framed in barbed wire.”
— Booklist (starred review)

“The characters’ loyalty, love, and struggle for redemption grip the reader and don’t let go.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

She Rides Shotgun (9780062394408) by Jordan Harper. $26.99 hardcover. 6/6/17 on sale.

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