Saturday, July 5, 2008

Read: "Cold Spot" by Tom Piccirilli

Read: Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli, 2008, 9780553590845.

Excellent. This was very, very good. I was very hesitant to even try finishing it after the first few paragraphs. The scene opens with a surprise hotel room murder and I am sure I have read a similar scene elsewhere. At the time I was quite certain I had read the exact same type of scene in one of Westlake/Stark's Parker novels.

I emailed Piccirrilli to ask him about the scene and whether he was inspired by Parker. Piccirilli responded saying the scene was not inspired by a Parker novel but that as a Parker fan his subconscious may have been involved. (I was hoping I was correct just so that Piccirilli would remind me of the title) Those first few pages had me worrying his novel would be a string of rip-offs and crime cliches. I was thankfully and gloriously incorrect.

Chase's mother was murdered and his despairing father committee suicide when Chase was ten. After a short foster home stay Chase's paternal grandfather Jonah picked him and took him with him. Jonah is an old-time, itinerate crook. A good comparison - echoing my above comments - is that Jonah is like a younger Parker but with living blood relatives. Jonah is ruthless, heartless, emotionless, and primarily concerned with the score and money.

After the hotel room member of a crew member Chase worries about his own safety. Chase is only fifteen but breaks away from Jonah to work on his own. Chase is an excellent grease monkey and driver and makes his way through the South as a getaway driver for hire until he meets and falls in love with a Deputy Sheriff. After a few years of marriage they move to Long Island and she is killed trying to stop a diamond heist. Chase wants revenge on the killer - the crew's driver - and calls Jonah to get some assistance.

Chase has never been a hard-core crook and his "cold spot" where he buried his emotions and feelings was melted away during his marriage. Now he has trouble getting that coldness and hardness back to make him as ruthless as he needs to be. This is a source of friction between Jonah and Chase and also causes Chase to make some wrong decisions.

Real good action scenes, two great characters in Chase and Jonah, a smoothly moving plot with subplots that fit right in and help drive the story along. According to a back page a sequel is planned for publication in 2009.

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