Summoned home by an urgent plea from his kid sister, a runaway brother finds his family of thieves just as dysfunctional and even more criminal.
Collie Rand has run out of time. Condemned to death after a murder spree that claimed eight innocent lives, he has a date with the needle in two weeks. And although there’s precious little love between him and his brother Terrier (yes, all the Rands are named after dog breeds), he has one thing he wants to impress on Terry: He didn’t strangle teenager Rebecca Clarke. Collie doesn’t claim his innocence; he can’t explain what made him kill all those people after a short life devoted entirely to stealing from his Long Island neighbors; he just wants Terry to know that he only went seven for eight. Since Detective Gilmore’s not likely to be any more help than Terry’s father Pinscher or his uncles Malamute and Greyhound, Terry has to go it alone in his inquiries. Wondering all the while why he’s laboring to exonerate a brother who freely admits his guilt in seven homicides, Terry scrutinizes the records collected by Collie’s jailhouse bride Lin, purloins the case files from Gilmore’s office, and watches his teenage sister Dale’s highly unsuitable involvement with penny-ante hood Joe Cassidy, who, styling himself Butch, plots a robbery that’s clearly out of his league. The results are more murder, some harsh truths about the Rand family, and a searing examination of the ties that bind brother to brother.
Consigning most of the violence to the past allows Piccirilli (The Fever Kill, 2007, etc.) to dial down the gore while imparting a soulful, shivery edge to this tale of an unhappy family that’s assuredly unhappy in its own special way.