Tom Piccirilli and a Pack of Thieves

I’ve never had the pleasure, as they say, to meet Tom Piccirilli. At least not in the traditional sense. We’ve bumped virtual shoulders through Brian Keene’s forums and on Twitter, I’ve followed him on Facebook. He and his work have always come in high regard. Tom is a working class writer who seems easy to admire. Because of that I’ve always intended on reading his work, to make that call for myself, and like several writers I intend on reading time always seems to stand in the way. I often imagine myself like Burgess Meredith in that episode of The Twilight Zone where all he wished for was time to read, and what happens when time is no longer a factor? He breaks his glasses. And with twenty odd years of eye strain from working too close to monitors, I need those glasses now to read.

When Tom’s The Last Kind Words was released in June to solid reviews and internet buzz, at least in my circle of influence, I wanted to run out and get the book. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t in a position to drop $18-$25 on a book, any book. So it was shoved off to my to my TBR list and I would be able to pick it up who knows when? Then the unfortunate happened.

Tom Piccirilli was diagnosed with a near tennis ball sized tumor in his brain, and he would have to have surgery and follow up treatment. If you’re in my circle of influence, you probably know all this and have been following updates from his wife, Michelle, on Facebook. If you haven’t, even if you have, you should read Tom’s guest post on writer and friend Brian Keene‘s website. It encapsulates the unique experience of facing death, fear, hope and love. Go read “Meeting the Black” and I’ll be right here when you come back.

Powerful stuff, wasn’t it?

Since the announcement there has been an outpouring of support from the community, and any doubt that Tom is loved, respected, has been overshadowed many times over. From notes of well wishes, offers of publishers to donate proceeds, to a rise in sales, and the many donations Tom and his wife have received.

Being in a little better place, I purchased The Last Kind Words and contributed a small token to the Indie Go Go campaign set up in his name. What better way to show your support for a writer than to buy his books?

I don’t know if the The Last Kind Words is the perfect introduction to Tom Piccirilli, to his his catalog of work, but as a first time reader I am sold on Tom the writer. I am hopeful that my stockings will be filled with several of his past novels this year, and that I’ll have years more of new material to read once Tom has put Cancer under his thumb.

The Last Kind Words is the story of Terrier “Terry” Rand a rehabilitated thief who is drawn back to his family, a family of thieves, when his brother Collie asks to see him weeks before he is to be executed for a killing spree he committed five years earlier. The same time Terry decided he was done with the life and with his family, putting his past behind him and heading out west to live a quiet life of anonymity. Despite his resentment of his past, of his brother, he is drawn back hoping to answer questions and to have a glimpse of a life he left behind.

Piccirilli deftly tells a story of family, fractured by unexplained and unforgiving murders committed Collie the eldest son. Then he presents us with a mystery when Collie recants to one of the murders, a mystery that would weave its way through the family story to either stitch them back together or unravel them completely.

The story is multifaceted, creating as many questions as there are answers. And I will admit that by the end I wanted more. There are stories yet to be told about Terry and the remaining family in this pack of thieves, so perhaps wanting more is exactly what Piccirilli was going for and I suppose time will tell.

This won’t be the last book I read by Tom Piccirilli, I look forward to reading more and letting him know in person one day just how much I enjoy his work. Maybe next time I’m out in Colorado visiting the in-laws I’ll take an afternoon and drive up for a sit down.