Written by Tom Piccirilli — Last year’s literary crime thriller The Last Kind Words went down a storm with us. We reviewed it and gave it five stars, and MyBookishWays included it in her top five books of 2012. In that book career, thief Terrier Rand was called home to confront both his brother Collie’s madness. The latter had been on an all-night killing spree randomly murdering strangers. Terry set out to find the killer of the eight victim, whom Collie insisted he hadn’t killed. As you might have noticed, all the characters are named after dogs.
Now that Collie has been given the lethal injection Terry wants to get back to his straight life, but there are just too many things stopping him. His grandfather Shepherd has Alzheimer’s disease and his father Pinscher has started treatment to hold off that condition. His younger sister Airdale has got a new boyfriend he doesn’t trust, and his mother has been called to her father’s deathbed for a reconciliation more than 30 years after she was disowned by her parents for marrying into the criminal Rand pack.
But mostly Terry can’t leave because he still loves Kimmy. They were childhood sweethearts and all set to get married when Kimmy had a miscarriage. Terry couldn’t handle it, bailed, and his reaction drove her into the arms of Terry’s best friend, Chub. Chub runs a garage, and even though business is good, he still sells hot cars to robbery crews and helps plan their getaway routes. Terry has been using his burglary skills to keep a discreet eye on Chub’s activities, not sure himself if he’s trying to keep his ex-friend out of jail or get him sent there so that he can be with Kimmy.
Whatever his motivations, Terry may get his chance. Chub has been working with a professional crew, organised and disciplined, but trigger-happy. They pull an armoured car job that goes horribly wrong, killing cops in the process. The heat is on and Chub disappears. He knows anyone involved with the crew is fair game for the police who won’t necessarily be looking to make arrests, and he can’t go to anyone else in the life as the local mob have put out a contract on him. Anyone who draws that kind of attention makes trouble for everybody else, and examples have to be made. Terrier promises a distraught Kimmy he will find her husband, knowing he just might die trying.
The Last Kind Words was a great book but if it had a weakness it was there was just a little too much emphasis on the family saga and not enough on the crime. Piccirilli corrects that here in The Last Whisper in the Dark. We have armed robbery, a scarily charismatic hit-man who kills with a needle, a mob boss on the way out who just doesn’t know it yet, and fraud and embezzlement within the straight-to-DVD horror movie business. All this alongside a riveting family drama of accusations, recriminations, secrets and regrets. In other words, something for everyone. If Crufts gave out awards to books, The Last Whisper in the Dark would get Best In Show.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars