The last remaining son of a family of Long Island thieves and grifters tries to turn his life around. It’s not easy.
Terrier Rand has recently seen his brother Collie executed for murder and buried his uncle Greyhound in the backyard, where his other uncle, Malamute, was murdered. (Only the family dog, JFK, is named after a person.) Terry’s grandfather has Alzheimer's, and his father, Pinscher, is in the early stages. Terry and his teenage sister Airedale are trying to make something of their lives, but shadows from the past draw Terry back into trouble. Kimmy, the love of his life, has married Chub, his former best friend. Although he runs a successful garage, Chub can’t keep away from the thrill of helping to plan robberies and provide getaway cars. For Kimmy’s sake, Terry keeps an eye on Chub, but when he provides the car for a robbery that goes wrong and three cops are killed, Terry sees that he’s in over his head. Surprisingly, that may be the least of his problems. His mother’s nephew John shows up with a request for her to visit her family—the same family that turned their backs on her when she married Pinscher. Taking her to a nearby mansion, Terry finds that his grandfather, uncle and cousin John are all involved in the movie business. He also discovers that his talented sister Dale has been making underground movies that could get her arrested. His dying maternal grandfather wants him to kill a man he thinks is stealing from him, involving Terry in a business rife with thievery and drug dealing. Terry will do anything to help Kimmy, but the mob and assorted drug dealers all warn him off in violent ways.
This second look at Piccirilli’s dog-centric family (The Last Kind Words, 2012) is so well-written that the considerable violence is dovetailed seamlessly into the story of a sympathetic young man who fights demons real and imagined.