Monday, December 05, 2011

Books: Tom Piccirilli

LossLoss by Tom Piccirilli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A handyman at an old historic New York City apartment is also a struggling writer, with several books but few royalties to claim. Meanwhile, his former best friend, turned best-selling rival lives in the penthouse suite surrounded all the trappings of success including a beautiful wife for whom the handyman secretly holds a torch. Then things start to get a little strange: a showman and his trained monkey move in as a remnant who claimed to invent aluminum foil is murdered by an ice pick through the frontal lobe. The handyman sees the ghosts of his dead father and the beautiful wife goes missing… This was another very good short novella, that combines aspects of love and loss, murder and the supernatural with a sprinkling of dry humor.

You'd Better Watch OutYou'd Better Watch Out by Tom Piccirilli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a nameless young man witnesses his mother being murdered on Christmas Day by his crooked cop father, he vows one day to have revenge. While the father serves his jail term the boy grows into a man, first running small time jobs for the Brooklyn mob before becoming the most feared hit man in the city. Juggling his responsibilities as a professional killer, a "torpedo" in mob-speak, and a family man with twins, he ruthlessly overthrows the mob boss setting up the final showdown between him and his father… on Christmas Eve. This story or "noirella" as Piccrilli calls it was a blast to read from start to finish. Sticking close to his most successful themes like violence tempered or enraged by family, he has crafted a great story that stands with his finest work. As an unrepentant Scrooge and holiday hater, this is one holiday story I can unflinchingly recommend.

The Night ClassThe Night Class by Tom Piccirilli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Caleb is in the last year at university, struggling with his thesis, his girlfriend and a drinking problem. When he returns to school after winter break, he discovers that a female student had been murdered in his room, and that the evidence had been shoddily covered up. After a run in with his bullying Ethics professor, he retreats to a storage room under the university library where the dead girl's belongings are being stored. He he works on his thesis, and attempts to make sense of this mysterious woman's death and his own sister's suicide. When he is invited to a party at the house of the university's dean he begins to unravel a complex web of murder, sex and betrayal. This is an early book from Piccrilli, one of my favorite writers, a melancholy coming of age tale, with overtones of horror, crime and the supernatural. He would return to the school setting later in the excellent Shadow Season, but this book drifts on heavy dialogue and exposition, despite having some fascinating characters like the narcoleptic psychic Fuggy Fred, and Caleb's friend Melissa Lea. The story ends abruptly and hanging in midair, frustrating yet occasionally fascinating work from a writer of immense talent.

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