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The Last Kind Words

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The Last Kind Words

A Novel
From award-winning author Tom Piccirilli comes what Lee Child calls "perfect crime fiction," a wholly original novel introducing the Rands, a vipers' nest of crooks and cons, one generation stealing...
From award-winning author Tom Piccirilli comes what Lee Child calls "perfect crime fiction," a wholly original novel introducing the Rands, a vipers' nest of crooks and cons, one generation stealing...
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  • From award-winning author Tom Piccirilli comes what Lee Child calls "perfect crime fiction," a wholly original novel introducing the Rands, a vipers' nest of crooks and cons, one generation stealing from the next. Upon the razor-thin edge between love and violence lives a pair of brothers, their bonds frayed by betrayals and guilt, their loyalty to each other their last salvation.

    Raised to pick a pocket before he could walk, Terry Rand cut free from his family after his older brother, Collie, went on a senseless killing spree that left eight dead. Five years later, only days before his scheduled execution, Collie contacts Terry and asks him to return home. Collie claims he wasn't responsible for one of the murders--and insists that the real killer is still on the loose.

    Dogged by his own demons, Terry is swept back into the schemes and scams of his family: His father, Pinsch, a retired cat burglar, brokenhearted because of his two sons. His card-sharp uncles, Mal and Grey, who've incurred the anger of the local mob. His grandfather, Shep, whose mind is failing but whose fingers can still slip out a wallet from across the room. His teenage sister, Dale, who's flirting dangerously with the lure of the family business. And Kimmie, the woman Terry abandoned, who's now raising a child with Terry's former best friend.

    Terry pieces together the day his brother turned rabid, delving into a blood history that reveals the Rand family tree is rotten to the roots, and the secrets his ancestors buried are now coming furious and vengeful to the surface.

    A meditation on how love can confine a person just as easily as it can free him, juxtaposing shocking violence and sly humor, The Last Kind Words is the brilliantly inventive family saga that only a singular talent like Tom Piccirilli could conjure.

    Includes a preview of Tom Piccirilli's next book, The Last Whisper in the Dark.

    Praise for The Last Kind Words

    "A crime noir mystery as hard-boiled as any in recent memory, recalling the work of Chandler, Pelecanos and Connelly . . . Readers literally will be pinned to their seats until the last page is turned."--Bookreporter

    "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 Heartbroken

    "[A] caustic thriller . . . The characters have strong voices and bristle with funny quirks."--The New York Times Book Review

    "[Piccirilli] deserves a breakout novel, and this just might be it."--Booklist (starred review)

  • Chapter one

    I'd come five years and two thousand miles to stand in the rain while they prepared my brother for his own murder.

    He had less than two weeks to go before they strapped him down and injected poison into his heart. I knew Collie would be divided about it, the way he was divided about everything. A part of him would look forward to stepping off the big ledge. He'd been looking over it his whole life in one way or another.

    A different part of him would be full of rage and self-pity and fear. I had no doubt that when the time came he'd be a passive prisoner right up to the moment they tried to buckle him down. Then he'd explode into violence. He was going to hurt whoever was near him, whether it was a priest or the warden or a guard. They'd have to club him down while he laughed. The priest, if he was still capable, would have to raise his voice in prayer to cover my brother's curses.

    I was twenty minutes late for my appointment at the prison. The screw at the gate didn't want to let me in because he'd already marked me as a no-show. I didn't argue. I didn't want to be there. He saw that I wanted to split and it was enough to compel him to let me stay.

    At the prison door, another screw gave me the disgusted once-over. I told him my name, but the sound of it didn't feel right anymore.

    "Terry Rand."

    The fake ID I'd been living under the past half decade had become a safe harbor, a slim chance to better myself even though I hadn't done much yet. I resented being forced to return to the person I'd once been.

    The screw made me repeat my name. I did. It was like ice on my tongue. Then he made me repeat it again. I caught on.

    "Terrier Rand."

    Expressionless, he led me off to a small side room where I was frisked and politely asked if I would voluntarily succumb to a strip search. I asked what would happen if I said no. He said I wouldn't be allowed to proceed. It was a good enough reason to turn around. I owed my brother nothing. I could return out west and get back to a life I was still trying to believe in and make real.

    Even as I decided to leave I was shrugging out of my jacket and kicking off my shoes. I got naked and held my arms up while the screw ran his hands through my hair and checked between my ass cheeks and under my scrotum.

    He stared at the dog tattoo that took up the left side of my chest, covering three bad scars. One was from when Collie had stabbed me with the bayonet of a tin Revolutionary War toy soldier when I was seven. I got a deep muscle infection that the doctor had to go digging after, leaving the area a rutted, puckered purple.

    Another was from when I was twelve and my father sent me up the drainpipe to a house that was supposedly empty. A seventy-five-year-old lady picked up a Tiffany-style lamp and swatted me three stories down into a hibiscus tree. A rib snapped and pierced the flesh. My old man got me into the car and pulled the bone shard through by hand as the sirens closed in and he drove up on sidewalks to escape. The scar was mottled red and thick as a finger.

    The last one I didn't think about. I had made an art of not thinking about it.

    The screw took pride in his professional indifference, courteous yet dismissive. But the tattoo caught his attention.

    "Your family, you're some serious dog lovers, eh?"

    I didn't answer. One last time he checked through my clothes for any contraband. He tossed them back to me and I got dressed.

    I was taken to an empty visiting room. I sat in a chair and waited for them to bring Collie in. It didn't matter that there was a wall of reinforced glass between us. I wasn't going to pass him a shiv and we...

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 Writers 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. A native of Long Island, he lives in Colorado, where he is at work on another novel featuring the Rand family.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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