Futile Efforts by Tom Piccirilli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Tom Piccirilli is an author that started out writing in the horror genre and then gradually crossed into noir-ish crime fiction. This collection of short stories and poems shows him on the cusp of both genres, making the transition and mining the best of both worlds with a tremendous amount of wit and emotional resonance. When his stories are labeled "horror" it's not the blood and gore type of horror (although there is considerable violence) but the type of emotional horror that gets under your skin and stays with you. It's easy to dismiss the horror of monsters and goblins, but not so easy to forget the shock and trauma of losing a loved one. Another thing that makes Piccirilli stand out is his humor: sly, subversive and deeply enjoyable, such as in the story "With an Ear for My Father's Weeping" where the main character (a predecessor of his great character Chase from his novels The Cold Spot and The Coldest Mile) drives around New York with his dead father in the passenger seat and a dementia suffering, opera singing mafia don in the back seat. When they pull up to a burger joint drive through, it all goes to hell in the most amusing way. Cars, family and regrets are paramount in the collection, but never in a way that depresses you. The opening selection, a novella entitled "F---in' Lie Down Already" is an awesome tale of a mortally wounded cop who will not die until he receives vengeance for his murdered family. Like the American muscle cars Piccirilli loves, it stomps the gas from the first sentence, and doesn't let up. Just like this excellent collection, which is highly recommended.
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