Celebrated horror novelist Piccirilli (A Choir of Ill Children, 2003, etc.) turns his baleful eye to more traditional corruption in a rural noir mingling homegrown revenge schemes with mob warfare.
An undercover narc named Crease is dragging a trainload of baggage, psychic and corporeal, as he heads home to Hangtree, Vt. He’s haunted by Mary Burke, a little girl long thought to have been killed by Crease’s drunken father during a botched kidnapping, and burdened with an icy wife, a surly son and half a dozen adopted children foisted on him by his wife’s family. In his years away from home, he’s gone native under the thumb of a sadistic capo named Tucco, making him an even more dangerous opponent. The chink in his armor is that he’s already been outed as a good guy. Piccirilli walks a nice tightrope between portraying the iconographic characteristics of his hardboiled hero and unraveling the broken machinery of a fatalistic guy thrown one curveball too many. Crease is determined to quash his father’s deathbed confession, even if it means going up against a bullying town sheriff, a devious high-school sweetheart turned gun moll and his knife-wielding master, maybe all at once.
The gritty narration, graphic violence and pulp gravitas should make fans of Jim Thompson and Charlie Huston feel right at home.