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The Last Kind Words: A Novel Hardcover – June 12, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Advance praise for The Last Kind Words
“Perfect crime fiction . . . a convincing world, a cast of compelling characters, and above all a great story.”—Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of 61 Hours
“For the first time since The Godfather, a family of criminals has stolen my heart. This is a brilliant mix of love and violence, charm and corruption. I loved it.”—Nancy Pickard, bestselling author of The Scent of Rain and Lightning
“You don’t choose your family. And the Rand clan, a family of thieves, is bad to the bone. But it’s a testimony to Tom Piccirilli’s stellar writing that you still care about each and every one of them. The Last Kind Words is at once a dark and brooding page-turner and a heartfelt tale about the ties that bind.”—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Darkness, My Old Friend
“Piccirilli straddles genres with the boldness of the best writers today, blending suspense and crime fiction into tight, brutal masterpieces.”—James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Colony
“Tom Piccirilli’s sense of relationships and the haunting power of family lifts his writing beyond others in the genre. The Last Kind Words is a swift-moving and hard-hitting novel.”—Michael Koryta, Edgar Award–nominated author of The Ridge
“A stunning story that ranges far afield at times but never truly leaves home, a place where shadows grow in every corner . . . superbly told, with prose that doesn’t mess about or flinch from evil.”—Daniel Woodrell, PEN USA award–winning author of Winter’s Bone
“There’s more life in The Last Kind Words (and more heartache, action, and deliverance) than in any other novel I’ve read in the past couple of years.”—Steve Hamilton, Edgar Award–winning author of The Lock Artist
“You’re in for a treat. Tom Piccirilli is one of the most exciting authors around. He writes vivid action that is gripping and smart, with characters you believe in and care about.”—David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of First Blood

Mystic River set the bar for classic literary mystery, and The Last Kind Words is a novel on the same superb playing field. Compassionate, fascinating, and with an adrenaline narrative that is as gripping as it is moving, this book is pure alchemy.”—Ken Bruen, Shamus and Macavity Award–winning author of The Guards and Headstone
“Piccirilli’s family of heartbroken thieves, bound by love, secrets, and family codes, kept me turning the pages until the very end. It pained me to put this book down at night. Tom Piccirilli is the leader of a new pack of writers combining the best elements of crime, mystery, and literary fiction in a way that would make Chandler proud. I loved this book, and can’t wait for the sequel.”—Sara Gran, author of Clare DeWitt and the City of the Dead

“Tom Piccirilli’s The Last Kind Words is a story born of the dark legacies of family violence and loss. With vivid prose and palpable urgency, it succeeds utterly as a crime tale. At the same time, it reminds us that crimes can emanate from both the darkest and lightest of places, and renders the heart of a damaged family with clear-eyed yet fervent beauty.”—Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything

“Piccirilli has created a world so real you can smell the mildew.  After writing crime and horror for presses well known and obscure, he deserves a breakout novel and this just might be it.”  Booklist (starred review)

“A searing examination of the ties that bind brother to brother…a soulful, shivery edge to this tale of an unhappy family that’s assuredly unhappy in its own special way.” 

“[A] sharp slice of contemporary noir….Piccirilli’s mastery of the hard-boiled idiom is pitch perfect, particularly in the repartee between his characters, while the picture he paints of the criminal corruption conjoining the innocent and guilty in a small Long Island community is as persuasive as it is seamy.  Readers who like a bleak streak in their crime fiction will enjoy this well-wrought novel.”  Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Tom Piccirilli is the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN.  He's won two International Thriller Awards and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553592483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553592481
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,341,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary Taylor on May 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really wish I could give these fascinating characters and their snappy dialogue a better score. But, when I boil away the fun of spending some time with Terrier Rand's family of thieves and grifters, I didn't find much of a mystery yarn. And what is left for a resolution creates a bit of a stretch, more of an awkward finish than a eye-popping surprise. Despite short sentences and awesome prose, THE LAST KIND WORDS ranks as study of enticing characters in search of a better story.

Terrier tells Piccirilli's story in the first person as a kind of prodigal son summoned home to Long Island by his older brother Collie on the eve of Collie's scheduled execution for a senseless and unexplained murder spree several years earlier. All Rand family members are named for breeds of dogs, providing the clan with one of several eccentric and interesting quirks. The title takes its name from Terrier's observation that the last kind words to Jesus on the cross came from a thief. In his narrative, Terrier takes the reader through a series of adventures as he accepts a mission to solve one of the murders wrongly attributed to Collie on his spree.

The book spends more time with Terrier trying to find himself than the true identity of the killer, and, in the process, it becomes more of a literary work than a pure crime-fiction genre offering. Piccirilli hits all the right notes with his language, turning phrases like: "She turned, and her gold-flecked gaze not only pinned me to the wall but frisked me as well." But much of the novel's movement seems extraneous to the murder mystery at its core, relegating that mission from Collie to the position of a subplot.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's been a long time since I've read straight through a book with nothing but hot tea and a cheese sandwich to keep me going, but the combination of fine writing, intriguing story, and strange characterizations of Tom Piccirilli's novel, THE LAST KIND WORDS, kept me intrigued to the end.

The Rands, a family of grifters, totally dysfunctional for several generations, welcomes home Terrior, a son who once abandoned them. They're not sure how he should be received. And he's not sure why he came back, other than his older brother, Collie, soon to be executed for engaging in a vicious killing spree, has requested his help. Right away the dysfunction begins to show as we learn all family members have been named for dog breeds.

I'm not going to present any lengthy synopsis, because the book speaks for itself, the storyline has been explained by other reviewers, and I want to explore why the book so captivated me. First, the writing. Piccirilli is very talented at setting realistic scenes. Every location he describes jumps out like this is a pop-up book. Every house, road, bar, automobile, landscape comes to life. The reader can reach out and touch it.

His characters have a reality that creates vivid portraits as hairstyles, skin, and even smells are depicted. The reader comes to know every person in the book as if they were sitting across a table under bright light. Their strengths and weaknesses are there to examine and contemplate and to pass judgment on, just as we would in real life.

The characters are unique and totally believable as presented, but in hindsight are improbable and not very likeable. But, when you think about it, that's exactly why grifters are so successful in their trade.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Imagine being served a nice big steak, warm and sizzling on the plate. The aroma of grilled meat wafts upward and juices glisten as you slice off a bite. The taste is incredible but the meat is slightly tough in texture. It doesn't get any better. Halfway through, you're tired of chewing and shove the plate aside.

Unlike a steak, I couldn't send this book back to the kitchen. The author does have talent but how deep, dark and miserable can you go? The fact that the Rand family members are named after dog breeds while their dog is named after a president makes more sense than anything else. Where did the brother on death row disappear to? We get him at the beginning and then, nada. Uncle Gray has a picture in his pocket and blood in his eye. One word, get over it. As for the narrator Terry, he's talking of going into the 'underneath.' I don't know where that is but it sounds like a good idea for him. Go man, just go. It's hard to believe that any cast of characters can be this messed up and miserable. Maybe it's just me but I'm not sticking around to find out. I'm tired of chewing.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I won't summarize the book's plot as this is quite well done in the Amazon Book Description above. What this review will attempt to do is provide my opinions about The Last Kind Words in the hope that it will be helpful in deciding if it is a book you'll want to read or not read.

A key reason why I chose to read this book is that the publisher positions The Last Kind Words as a book of 'mesmerizing suspense' -- which, as a reader, is "music to my ears! From my perspective, the attempt to sell the book in this way is a major mistake; as not only isn't the book's suspense mesmerizing, it is barely suspenseful at all, and what little suspense there is doesn't come about until the last 50 pages or so.

What the book is, however, which more than makes up for its misleading positioning, is a very good work of literary fiction that strongly demonstrates Tom Picciilli's very strong characterization and prose skills. Piccirilli succeeds so well on these fronts that I felt I was right there with the characters experiencing all the goings on in their lives; and what interesting characters they are!

While the suspense was not mesmerizing, what was mesmerizing to me was Piccirilli's exploration into the close bonds between all of the Rand family members, and how they are stretched by guilt, justice and redemption. Piccirill's strength in these areas are reminiscent of Dennis Lehane's in Mystic River and in Richard Price's Clockers and Freedomland. By the way, you should know that the Rands are a family of small-time grifters living in Long Island, NY; all of whom are named after dog breeds. No wonder this family is, to say the least, somewhat dysfunctional!
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