Dawn's Reviews > The Last Kind Words

The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli
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's review
May 27, 2012

really liked it
Read from May 17 to 27, 2012

I was surprised at how very much I liked this book and how much this tragic story of an enigmatic family of thieves named after dog breeds moved me. I was sorry to come to the end. I became a Terrier fan fairly early in the book, and that feeling only grew stronger the farther into the book I read.

The story begins when Terrier (Terry) is called and asked to come home to visit his brother, Collie, who is on death row, soon to be executed for a string of murders he committed one night five years previous. Collie has confessed to the murders.

The Rand family is famed for their thievery - not their violence (they don't even carry guns when they break into houses). So the Rands, Terry included, are appalled and horrified by Collie's crimes. They do not visit him in prison nor condone what he has done. Terry moved states away shortly after the murder spree, telling no one his whereabouts and leaving behind a girlfriend grieving a miscarriage as well as leaving his family to pick up the pieces of shattered family caused by Collie's going mad dog (Terry's words), or going to the underneath.

After Terry visits Collie in prison and finds out what he wants (he has been persuaded over the years by his wife, Lin, that he did not murder one of the victims he's accused of murdering - a teenage girl). Collie asks Terry to investigate, find out who killed the teenager, and see if the murder is connected to what Collie and Lin believe are a string of murders of young, pretty brunette women in the area.

The story revolves around Terry's struggles as he works to unravel the mystery of the one murder out of eight that his brother claims he did not commit (or is his brother lying just to make Terry crazy?) Terry fears going to the underneath (he fears being capable of that kind of violence and darkness) like his brother. He fears letting his sister, Dale, down when she needs him the most. He fears getting Alzheimer's like his grandpa.

What I found beautiful is Terry's courage in the face of his fears. He is human - the reader can empathize and relate even if there's no knowledge of what it's like to live a criminal life - and he overcomes. Terry gets things done; he proves you can be strong when you feel weak inside. The author does a fantastic job of painting a brutally honest and heart-rending portrait of a family of thieves who have heart, despite what the public may believe. Bad acts or decisions don't have to equal bad hearts or minds. At the same time, this family, though close, though loving and loyal, has a deadly secret buried so deep that no one suspects until it's too late to avert more tragedy.

One final thing I loved about the book - the title, "The Last Kind Words," are used to tie the meaning of the whole story together, and it works so well. I don't want to say what it is - it's something that is meant to be discovered by the reader, not by a reviewer. But the last kind words and the meaning behind it, which are the only words Terry speaks to the pastor at a funeral, moved me, and I agreed with the sentiment.

This is the first book I've read by Piccirilli - it definitely won't be my last. Fantastic!

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05/19/2012 page 32
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