Two unusual dark mysteries stand out from the crowd this summer: Bloodman by first-time author Robert Pobi, a former well-known antiques dealer, and The Last Kind Words by veteran Tom Piccirilli, whose contributions to the field are by now legendary. Both of these novels deliver thrills, chills, and surprises galore. In fact, you should definitely take them to the beach or somewhere else sunny, because reading them in a dark room late at night might require you to keep a defibrillator on hand.
Bloodman tells the story of brutal FBI contractor Jake Cole's confrontation of his past and a double homicide. Complicating things are his father's paintings, which may lead to a killer, and an incoming Category 5 hurricane. Compared by Saran Weinman at The National Post to "A Sixth Sense-like take on Thomas Harris in his prime," the book is dark, brooding, violent, and written in a terse style well-suited to the material. The author is a former well-known antiques dealer whose clients have included movie stars.
The Last Kind Words confirms Piccirilli as a master of neo-noir, and as in Pobi's Bloodman, the past plays a big role. Terry Rand is part of a family of thieves and grifters who walked away when his older brother committed a senseless killing spree that left eight dead. But now, five years later, days before his scheduled execution, the brother tells Terry that one of the murders wasn't committed by him"”the real killer is still on the loose. As Terry's conscience coerces him to investigate, he's brought back in touch with his deceitful family. Terrible secrets will be uncovered, and old crimes brought back into the light. The novel is at times darkly comic, reaching new heights of accomplishment for the author. Lee Child has called it "Perfect crime fiction" and Nancy Pickard has pointed out similarities in its compelling nature to The Godfather.
Here are a couple of samples from the two novels to whet your appetite:
Bloodman excerpt: "There was no blood"”no sign of a struggle"”just her Pagoda sitting on the gravel with over half a tank of gas in it. A fresh pack of Marlboros sat on the middle console, a single cigarette missing from the pack. The bag of Mallomars and her purse were on the passenger's seat. Two cookies were gone but the $25,000 in cash from the gallery show was still in her purse. Nothing missing but those two cookies and a single cigarette. What was left of Mia Coleridge lay on a red patch of gravel 200 yards away."
The Last Kind Words excerpt: "On the long night of his rampage, my brother went so far down into the underneath that he didn't come back up until after he'd murdered eight people. A vacationing family of five shot to death in a mobile home, a gas-station attendant knifed in a men's room, an old lady beaten to death outside a convenience store, a young woman strangled in a park. None of them had been robbed. He hadn't taken anything, hadn't even cleaned out the register at the gas station. It wasn't our way. It had never been our way."
What thrilling summer reads are you looking forward to, Omi readers?