From award-winning author Tom Piccirilli comes a wholly original crime novel introducing the Rands, a vipers' nest of crooks and cons, one generation stealing from the next. Upon the razor-thin edge between love and violence lives a pair of brothers, their bonds frayed by betrayals and guilt, their loyalty to each other their last salvation.
Raised to pick a pocket before he could walk, Terry Rand cut free from his family after his older brother, Collie, went on a senseless killing spree that left eight dead. Five years later, only days before his scheduled execution, Collie contacts Terry and asks him to return home. Collie claims he wasn't responsible for one of the murders - and insists that the real killer is still on the loose.
Dogged by his own demons, Terry is swept back into the schemes and scams of his family: His father, Pinsch, a retired cat burglar, brokenhearted because of his two sons. His card-sharp uncles, Mal and Grey, who've incurred the anger of the local mob. His grandfather, Shep, whose mind is failing but whose fingers can still slip out a wallet - from across the room. His teenage sister, Dale, who's flirting dangerously with the lure of the family business. And Kimmie, the woman Terry abandoned, who's now raising a child with Terry's former best friend.
Terry pieces together the day his brother turned rabid, delving into a blood history that reveals the Rand family tree is rotten to the roots, and the secrets his ancestors buried are now coming furious and vengeful to the surface.
A meditation on how love can confine a person just as easily as it can free him, juxtaposing shocking violence and sly humor, The Last Kind Words is the brilliantly inventive family saga that only a singular talent like Tom Piccirilli could conjure.
I picked up this novel because I got an email from Amazon recommending this book because I liked Drive by James Sallis. While I didn’t believe it would be anything like Drive the synopsis did intrigue me. Terrier Rand grew up in a household of thieves and grifters; from a very young age Terry had been engaging in theft. He left his family and life of crime to go straight but five years later he has been dragged back in when his brother is claiming to be innocent of one of the victims of his killing spree. His brother is only days away from execution and has asked his brother to look into one of the murders. He has pleaded guilty for all the other murders but the police won’t listen. Collie doesn’t want to the real killer to remain on the loose and even though Terry hates his brother and what he did, he finds himself investigating.
Terrier finds himself being sucked into a life he has tried really hard to escape. As the story slowly unfolds Terry begins to find out that maybe his grandfather was right when he told him; “We’re born thieves, it’s our nature, handed down to me, handed down from me. This is our way.” Can Terry really escape a life of crime? Is Collie really guilty of this crime? Can Terry save his teenage sister from falling into a life of crime?
The Last Kind Words has some interesting family elements throughout this novel; each member of the family is unique and interesting; even if they are all named after dogs. His father, Pinsch is a retired cat burglar, his uncles Mal and Grey are in trouble with the local mob and his Grandfather Old Shep may be suffering from Alzheimer’s but still proving time and time again that he is a master pickpocket. Throughout the book, the reader is left wondering if Terry should help his family or try and save himself; always questioning the importance of family, when your family can be so self destructive.
From the start I was hooked, this novel had a nice pace to it, mixing elements of crime and mystery with an interesting character driven story about love and family. While Tom Piccirilli did a wonderful job in writing a novel of suspense, guilt, justice and redemption, I never really understood Terry’s motivations. I get that he wanted to help his family and I get that the book is meant to question the reader but I just felt that the characters motivation never felt clear to begin with, he didn’t want to be there, he didn’t want to help his brother, in fact he hated his brother and never believed him, so it felt like obligation was the only reason to return, even though I thought that reason didn’t fit this character too well.
The Last Kind Words is an interesting book and well worth reading. Crime lovers will love the suspense and mystery throughout this book and literary lovers will love the character building and family turmoil in this novel. The narrative is atmospheric with a slight noir feel to it; personally I would have loved more of a noir narrative but Tom Piccirilli did a brilliant job writing this book anyway. One of the better books I’ve read this year; I just had so much fun reading The Last Kind Words.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Last Kind Words? What did you like least?
The characterization was superb and the dry subtle humor made me giggle.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
Narration had an angry tone all the time and the effort at female voices sounded corny.
Was The Last Kind Words worth the listening time?
Yes it was good listening to it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book has almost zero twists or turns. It is a character study of a family of criminals, and not a deep one at that. I had to force myself to get to the end to see if there was something I missed, but even the ending was disappointing.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful