THE LAST KIND WORDS by Tom Piccirilli
I’ve read Tom Piccirilli for years, dipping into his suspense, horror, and Western novels. Some of his books have been hit and miss with me because the different facets of horror are an acquired taste and I don’t like all horror. But I’ve always enjoyed his crime novels.
The Last Kind Words tends to stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. There’s a haunting lyricism in the words because Piccirilli touches a lot of nerves in the book. The book is about murder, about a spree killer, about losing loved ones to dementia, secrets, and not knowing how to stay connected – but it’s ALL about family.
The Rand family isn’t like anything you’ve ever seen before in some respects. Then again, they’re like every family you’ve ever known. I don’t know why the dog name motif came up (the main character is Terrier Rand, his brother is Collie, and his sister is Dale – from Airedale. Imagine carrying that around as a kindergartner) but it works for the most part.
All of the family members are thieves, and if you know career criminals, that tends to be true as well. Piccirilli displays a lot of knowledge about thieves and thieving, about cards and card mechanics, so there’s an education on just about every page for the reader interested in reading beyond what the story offers.
The setup offers an interesting premise because our main character has been absent from the family for five years and returns only because his older brother has been convicted of spree killing and is about to be put to death by lethal injection. Terry can’t stay away and soon finds himself involved in the murders far more than he wants to be. Especially when Collie tells him that he didn’t kill one of the victims.
Although the story seems to be very small and localized, there are enough players that you might want to take out a pen and paper to keep up with everyone. Getting through the permutations of the plot takes some real focus, and Piccirilli provides enough mystery and deception to keep you guessing throughout most of the book. There are also a number of side trips through other family problems that are interesting but also demand attention.
The book is an enjoyable read, full of depth and pathos, but it certainly isn’t light fare. I was left on a down note to a degree, because although Terry learns a lot about his family and himself, those discoveries aren’t pleasant. They’re tough and vicious, which is what the author intends.
I’m going to wait a couple weeks on the new book, The Last Whisper In The Dark, to regroup before diving back into the Rand family and Terry’s twisted life. However, I am going to read that book. I have to see what happens next.