I ran into Tom Piccirilli's work several years ago with a little cult
horror gem called "Hexes" and was absolutely amazed at the quality
of the writing. Here was a guy writing literate cult horror. Since
then, I've read pretty much everything he's written and have
watched his stories slowly change from cult horror to taut thrillers.
And his writing just gets better and better...
Tighter than a drum, with sentences as clean as steel, so
beautifully polished they make you want to shout. Or maybe scream. I
was so seriously impressed with Dead Letters that I read it twice.
Well, the first time I just raced through to find out who the bad
guy was and missed a lot. The second time I revelled in the prose itself,
in the characterizations,in the oddities.
I don't want to stretch this review out to thousands of words which
you won't read. You want me to tell you whether or not this book is
worth reading. That is the value of this review, both to Amazon and
to the author. Hell, yeah, it's worth reading. My semi-autistic son
read it in two days and couldn't put it down. The story itself is a
killer. A serial child murderer who turns into a kind of Robin Hood,
stealing children from bad homes and placing them on the doorsteps
of the parents whose children he's killed? How much worse than this
does it get? Our hero in this story is a guy called Eddie Whitt,
who was the first victim of the guy he unknowingly dubbed
"Killjoy". His five year old daughter, Sarah was abducted and
killed, his wife ended up in an institution, biting her hands to
the bone, and Eddie was left with the problem of finding this guy,
this killer. When a baby is left on his doorstep, he gives it back,
getting a message from his wife: what kind of a father are you?
How much more painful than this does it get? Actually, it gets worse.
Whitt is getting cryptic nonsense letters from Killjoy which may or
may not hold clues as to his identity. And, poor Whitt gets involved
in searching for a murdering cult member who just might be Killjoy.
This story is so full
of pain and empathy that you"ll get another one of those lines
between your eyebrows just reading it. It puts you right there, where
poor Whitt is, his child dead, the changling returned, and his wife
biting herself to bloody bits. It is a painful story which gives
the word "catharsis" a whole new meaning. But, I should throw this in,
there is also plenty of comic relief to lighten the incredible tension.
Too many words already. Well, what do you want me to say? Good
book, read it. Yeah, that too. You want a short review. I can't do
it. Piccirilli is a really terrific writer, one of the best writers
in the English language extant, regardless of genre. When you open
page one of one of his books you fall into a landscape from which
you cannot escape until you reach the last page. Nobody writes like
this. Except TomPic.