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Last Call for the Living Hardcover – 22 May 2012

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Amazon.com: 40 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Well written, and VERY dark 15 Jun. 2012
By J.Prather - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Last Call for the Living is a very well written novel. The author's prose is simply beautiful, whether he's describing a meth addicted former teacher, or a naive bank teller's innocent love of rocketry, he's right on the money each and every time. This novel is unapologetically dark and gruesome. There's little hope to be found in this tale, just plenty to ponder about the nature of humanity and the gift of life that we all receive. Last Call for the Living is an apt title, since practically all of these characters are bellying up to the bar for their last call at life, whether they be the ex-cons, the drunken sheriff, or the young man who's life doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

I can't say that I actually enjoyed this novel, but I also can't bring myself to give it less than four stars, because it's just so good. I usually have a problem with books that don't have any characters that I care about, but strangely enough, by the end of this tale, I found myself caring about some of these really bad people and actually feeling sorry for some of the others that just weren't very lovable. Charlie Colquitt is the character that carries this book, and he is so multi-faceted, I still find myself thinking about him long after I've turned the last page. This is certainly a recommend, even if it is a cautious one. Just be prepared for one dark and wild ride.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Beer, cigarettes and bullets, please. In an emergency, do you deliver? 4 Jun. 2012
By Dick Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The cast of characters is made up of bad people and other generally unlikeable people. Since they are like real people, this means that some are really bad and some are really unlikeable and others are really unlikeably bad.

At least one of these people is a bank robber; a couple are bank tellers; some are parents; some are cops; some are crooks; some are bit players and I'm not telling which are the truly bad or the most unlikeable. (Caveat: There is a group of characters that I'm not including in my assessment since they are in a world of their own. I also am not including their group of friends who may actually be likeable.)

We're in northern Georgia and get to sit in on the drama of what happens when criminal and hostage take flight. Who they meet and how they meet and what they do after they meet fills the pages with non-stop action (and non-stop violence). Given the Book Description, there should be no surprise that the story includes weapons, sex, drugs, even more violence, lots of ammunition, booze, and maybe some unlikeable people.

If any of the above bother you, then don't even think of picking this up - though you will miss a very good book. If you can handle all of that (I don't want to consider that you really revel in such), then you will be in for an intense story. If you are in doubt, give it a go. The story is really that good.

So, what else happens when bad people meet up with unlikeable people who aren't (at least yet) bad also? Tune in to this poster child for "page turner" and find out. You won't believe this is Farris' "first published novel" (the publisher's words). I'll look forward to his second one.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Last Call for the Living" is Bloody, Provocative Noir Set in the Wilderness of the Georgia Mountains 9 Jun. 2012
By J. B. Hoyos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you like gritty tales of prison life [such as HBO's groundbreaking "Oz" (Oz: The Complete Seasons 1-6)] and stories of businessmen being pursued by murderous hillbillies [such as the classic thriller, "Deliverance" {Deliverance [Blu-ray])}, then you will enjoy Peter Farris' bloody, provocative noir, "Last Call for the Living." Set in the wilderness of the Georgia Mountains, this extremely suspenseful novel has some of the most amoral, despicable characters you will ever encounter. When I read in the Acknowledgments that David J. Schow [author of the ultraviolent "Internecine" (Internecine) and "Upgunned" (Upgunned: A Novel)] had mentored Farris, I knew that I would be experiencing an extremely brutal thrill ride. Honestly, however, I was more shocked than I had expected.

Young bank teller, Charlie Colquitt, nicknamed Coma because he sleeps like a dead man, is one of the novel's few redeemable characters. I kept fretting about whether or not he would be murdered by vicious ex-con Hobe HICKlin or Hicklin's meth-addicted girlfriend Ellamae Bibb (a.k.a. Hummingbird). A geek who is obsessed with studying aerospace engineering and building model rockets, Charlie experiences a transformation. As his world explodes around him, he grows stronger, more resilient. Hicklin, however, develops a fatherly attraction to the much younger Charlie--an attraction that leads to his desire to protect him from the brutal Aryan brothers who want the money Hicklin stole from the bank where Charlie was taken hostage. Meanwhile, I went through a transformation. Instead of loathing and detesting Hicklin, I began rooting for his escape to freedom. Hicklin and Charlie's yearning to be part of a family is what ultimately leads to their downfall.

An expertly plotted, extremely researched novel, "Last Call for the Living" is a sad, cautionary tale that will be difficult to erase from one's memory. I kept thinking that one of those vile characters could've easily have been me if my parents had been different. I grew up in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and am very familiar with the beautiful scenery that Farris describes. Blount County, Tennessee, is very much like Jubilation County, Georgia. We also have holy rollers, snake handlers and lots of rednecks with pickup trucks. I've actually had a few King Snakes as pets; however, they're not poisonous and they eat rattlesnakes. Also, instead of moonshine stills, the country hicks in Tennessee have meth labs.

If the reader ever had romantic notions about being taken hostage during a bank robbery, "Last Call for the Living" will squash them very quickly. Charlie is tied and brutalized, physically and psychologically, by Hicklin, Hummingbird and the two Aryan Brothers, Leonard Lipscomb and Nathan Flock. There are graphic scenes of violence and torture, mostly perpetrated against women. The quantity of obscene language, racial slurs and sexual innuendoes is off the chart. This is the type of novel where, if Mom found me reading it, she would slap me in the face. In other words, it is not intended for children, the timid of heart, and those who love old-fashioned, Agatha Christie-like cozies and whodunits.

"Last Call for the Living" is definitely recommended for those, like myself, who enjoy reading bloody, violent shocking crime noir with high body counts. You have been warned. Also, if you enjoyed reading Peter Farris' excellent debut, you may want to consider indulging yourself in the novels of David J. Schow who mentored him: "Internecine" and "Upgunned." They also have ultraviolent plots involving despicable characters and protagonists who transform into lean, mean killing machines; however they are set against the wealthy, upper-class environs of Las Angeles and Manhattan.

Joseph B. Hoyos
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Provocative cat and mouse thriller 7 Jun. 2012
By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In a hick town in Georgia about the size of a thumb, a larcenous ex-convict, Hicklin, executes a bank robbery. He leaves a blood splattering mess behind and abducts a bank teller on the way out. He double-crosses some other ex-cons and goes into hiding with his frightened hostage at a cabin in the wooded hills, where his crack addled lady friend is embedded. Now the story REALLY begins.

The prison-tatted ex-cons are part of the Aryan Brotherhood, a group of loathsome, odiferous men that were loyal to each other behind bars. Now? Not so much. And the poor abductee is a nerd named Charlie who is obsessed with rockets and wants to be an engineer. He's a bit of a reluctant mamma's boy, too.

This is a witty, acerbic cat and mouse thriller a la Tarantino/Coen Brothers with a bit of Cormac McCarthy thrown in for good literary measure. (But the body count/pile-up is less than its predecessors.) The cast are a company of tweakers and rank losers--you may want to bathe every few pages. The sheriff is a pitiful drunk, but there's a fifth of him still operating at maximum capacity. The characters are sketched with a compact but fecund economy, enough to provoke some empathy in just the right places and times.

The prose is sophisticated, laconic, and periodically elegiac, placing this way above genre-type novels. It is also disturbing, and surprisingly poignant. A few tender themes pop out and grab you by the heartstrings, but it is best to discover it on your own. If you are okay with graphic violence, drugs, and sex, then you will sink your teeth into this one and crunch some bone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Head and shoulders above your standard shoot `em up 2 Oct. 2012
By Elizabeth A. White - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Fresh out of prison after a long stretch, what's the first thing up on ex-con Hobe Hicklin's `To Do' list? Rob his hometown North Georgia Savings and Loan, of course. In and out in under 3 minutes with the cash, as robberies go this one goes pretty smoothly. Well, except for killing the bank manager. Probably shouldn't have taken the teller hostage either. Oh, and considering the job was planned with his fellow Aryan Brotherhood members while he was inside, Hicklin probably should have waited for them instead of jumping the score.

Now not only does Hicklin have local Sheriff Tommy Lang and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on his ass, he has some very seriously pissed off Brotherhood members gunning for him as well. On top of which, Hicklin's got to juggle his tweaking junkie girlfriend, Hummingbird, and that skittish mama's boy of a teller, Charlie Colquitt. Come to think of it, maybe that score didn't go so smoothly after all. And it's a good thing for readers it didn't, because author Peter Farris's debut Last Call for the Living is an intensely engaging exploration of the aftermath of a robbery which initially seems to have gone right, only to be revealed as having gone gloriously wrong in virtually every way possible.

On the surface things unfold as a classic fugitive in hiding tale, with the twist of Hicklin being wanted by not just the law but his former "brothers" as well. And given what nasty pieces of work the two thugs the Brotherhood sends after Hicklin are, there's a good argument to be made he'd be better off in the hands of the law. Except, of course, Hicklin has no plans of going back to prison. Ever. Which makes Hicklin an extremely motivated and dangerous man, one who flashbacks to his time in prison demonstrate is every bit the ruthless, coldblooded killer as the two on his trail.

What raises Last Call for the Living head and shoulders above your standard shoot `em up, however, is the masterful attention to character development Farris has put into the story. For a man prone to extreme violence and hateful, racist language, Hicklin is actually so well developed - the prison flashbacks graphically explain why a man has no choice but to make alliances, even distasteful ones, inside to survive - that the reader finds himself actually caring about the character, even if you don't exactly like him per se. This is especially true when it comes to Hicklin's unusual attachment to his hostage, Charlie.

A nerdy, awkward, introverted young man, Charlie goes through life on autopilot with only his love of rockets dreams of getting a degree and working at NASA to keep him going. Initially overwhelmed by the situation - he pisses himself when the bank's robbed and later faints dead away while at the hideout - Charlie slowly finds himself inexplicably drawn in by Hicklin, whose hardened and confident personality represent everything Charlie is not. It's a relationship Farris nurtures and develops over the course of the story, leading Charlie, Hicklin, and the reader down a path which ultimately ends in both triumph and tragedy.

You see, despite all the fisticuffs and shootouts, and there is a spectacular one which takes place amongst the parishioners at a snake handling church, Last Call for the Living is at heart a character driven story, one which isn't afraid to look at the dark side of human nature and explore evil as shades of gray and not an unyielding pitch-black. It's a novel that recognizes sometimes a man actually wins by losing, least if it's on his terms, and that even when one wins it can sometimes feel like a loss. Triumph and tragedy; they're more closely linked than most people realize. Peter Farris certainly gets it, and if you read his amazingly nuanced Last Call for the Living you will too.
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