MysteryPeople Review: SHE RIDES SHOTGUN by Jordan Harper

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780062394408Jordan Harper’s name buzzed around crime fiction circles with his stand-out short stories, many of them appearing in the collection, Love And Other Wounds. His hard boiled tales of outlaws and others on the edge are written with a gritty poetry and visceral tone. He kept both intact in his debut novel, She Rides Shotgun, a book as bada** as its title.

Harper takes us on one of the darkest daddy-daughter bonding experiences in fiction since A Paper Moon. Nate McClusky, a father and a career criminal, crossed a white supremacist gang, Aryan Steel, at the end of his prison sentence. Upon his release, he discovers the prison gang has killed his ex in retaliation and they now have their sights set on Polly, his eleven-year-old daughter. He grabs her at school, taking her on the road. Their initial goal of escape quickly turns into a crime spree as Nate robs the gang’s criminal enterprises as leverage for a truce. As he gets to know Polly, he notices an inner coldness that could serve as a key to her survival.

Harper uses this simple, streamlined crime fiction plot to deliver a tight, tough as nails novel, that allows him to dive deep into the relationship of Nate and Polly without any stops. He finds detail and believability in both their voices. He also captures the sleazy Southern California underworld in all its rough and tumble glory.

She Rides Shotgun is a rocket ride through that sunburned land of the violent and desperate that is SoCal. Harper gives us a portrait of outlaws with one foot in the grave, just waiting for the earth to swallow the rest; through the novel’s family relationships, he explores the many ways love is tough. This novel-length debut promises great things for Jordan Harper.

Jordan Harper joins us for our New Voices in Noir panel discussion coming up on Wednesday, July 26th, at 7 PM. He’ll be joined on the panel by Rob Hart and Bill Loehfelm. You can find copies of She Rides Shotgun on our shelves and via


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