Finished: The Fever Kill by Tom Piccirilli, 2007, 9780976921745.
Boy, this was a downer at the end. No wonder Bruen wrote the introduction. Good job by Piccirilli.
Crease's drunken, ex-sheriff father finally drinks himself dead after seven years of hitting the bottle. Crease and his father are outcasts in their Vermont town after the drunken dad botched a kidnapping case that left the six-year-old victim dead. The dad dies and Crease leaves town at 17 vowing to return and get even with the current sheriff and anyone else who did them wrong.
Crease gets sidetracked, gets hired as a cop in New York City, makes friends with a drug boss, Tucco, and spends two years undercover as Tucco's right hand man while doing all sorts of nasty and illegal things with the NYPD's approval. Crease is a freakin' mess. He had a great wife whose kindness he could not accept. Crease's eight year old son is burning with anger over having a crap dad and Crease has been screwing and falling in love with Tucco's girlfriend.
Crease cannot take the undercover life anymore and announces his true identity to Tucco in a strip bar and then walks out. Crease then vamooses up to Vermont to settle the ten-year-old old score - but in reality he is just running away from and avoiding his other issues.
Things happen, people are beaten, and Crease fights his "fever". When thinking about the dead kidnapped girl, or his father, or the damn town Crease gets an immediate and body consuming anger and starts sweating profusely. Crease resolves the mystery about the kidnapping, resolves some anger against the town and his father, confronts Tucco, makes friends with a gravedigger, life goes on.
The ending is pretty open with Crease awaiting medical help for a couple nasty stab wounds. The reader can decide whether they want Crease to live or die. To go back to being a regular cop or running Tucco's old criminal empire. To decide whether Crease's son's mental stability and anger issues improve.
Piccirilli's horror writing background comes through here, at least for me. I had a feeling or dread at times for Crease and the storyline about the kidnapped girl had some scares and unpleasant scenes.
Piccirilli's sequel to The Cold Spot, The Cold Mile, should be coming out soon. I think I already placed an order.