Whichever category you choose to assign She Rides Shotgun to – debut novel, chase thriller, hardboiled man-out-of-prison drama, or even twisted coming of age novel – one thing’s for sure: you won’t read many better examples all year ... The novel has a small but well-drawn cast of characters, including the detective investigating Polly’s disappearance, some corrupt law men, and a young woman trapped by Aryan Steel in the way that Nate was so keen to avoid. In fact, Harper’s economical writing style extends the length of the novel ... Having read She Rides Shotgun, it’s no surprise to me that literary crime writers like Megan Abbott and Benjamin Whitmer are queuing up to heap praise on it.
That, in short, is a talented author at the peak of his game delivering a fast-paced, gritty, ultraviolent narrative that, more than put him on the crime map, should rocket him into the upper echelons of contemporary noir ... Polly and Nate are engaging characters on their own, but work best as a duo. Harper’s deceptively simple plot allows him to use his characters as vehicles to explore trust, loyalty, fatherhood, coping mechanisms in the face of a major loss, and even the need for violence ...Harper seems to possess a deep understanding of how violence works and the way it affects people ...She Rides Shotgun is a debut novel, but that doesn’t mean Harper can’t be called a master. Calling him a 'new' author isn’t exactly accurate, so master does the job pretty well.
Jordan Harper’s fast-paced debut novel, She Rides Shotgun, opens with a disturbingly haunting introduction...the breakneck plot of She Rides Shotgun contains a death warrant for three people: 'A man. A woman. A child.' ...Polly McClusky, Nate’s estranged 11-year-old daughter, an odd little girl who seems uncomfortable in her own skin, an unlikely hero, but that’s exactly what she becomes in this neo-noir, contemporary coming-of-age tale ...told in alternating points-of-view, immediately takes the reader inside of Polly’s head...this novel does well to expose the darkness and depravity (but also the frightening power and influence that this subculture seems to wield, both inside and outside of prison walls) ... Perhaps this novel could even be read as a cautionary tale, a dire warning about what happens when one commits oneself to a life of violence and crime.
Meek, intellectually precocious 11-year-old Polly finds her tattooed, heavily muscled father, Nate, waiting outside her school in Fontana, California. Having been in prison for more than half of Polly’s life, Nate has now been granted an early release. Unfortunately, though, the head of the Aryan Steel gang has just put out a call from his prison cell for his gang members to kill Nate, his ex-wife, and their daughter ... For all the darkness and even ugliness displayed, the characters’ loyalty, love, and struggle for redemption grip the reader and don’t let go.
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 ... 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 ... as the action builds to a climax that’s over-the-top but consistent with what has gone before. Expert pacing and well-developed characters lift this above the thriller pack.