Early Review: Last Call for the Living by Peter Farris

Last Call for the Living by Peter Farris
Forge/May 22nd, 2012
Kind thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing a review copy

There’s no police training stronger than a cop’s instinct. Faith Mitchell’s mother isn’t answering her phone. Her front door is open. There’s a For bank teller Charlie Colquitt, it was just another Saturday. For Hobe Hicklin, an ex-con with nothing to lose, it was just another score. For Hobe’s drug-addled, sex-crazed girlfriend, it was just more lust, violence, and drugs. But in this gripping narrative, nothing is as it seems.

Hicklin’s first mistake was double-crossing his partners in the Aryan Brotherhood. His second mistake was taking a hostage. But he and Charlie can only hide out for so long in the mountains of north Georgia before the sins of Hicklin’s past catch up to them.

Hot on Hicklin’s trail are a pair of ruthless Brotherhood soldiers, ready to burn a path of murder and mayhem to get their revenge. GBI Special Agent Sallie Crews and Sheriff Tommy Lang catch the case, themselves no strangers to the evil men are capable of. Soon Crews is making some dangerous connections while for the hard-drinking, despondent Lang, rescuing Charlie Colquitt might be the key to personal salvation.

Looking to settle down with a nice, gentle mystery, maybe about quilting, or something along those lines? Well, that’s not gonna happen with Last Call For the Living. Not by a longshot. Strap yourself in and get ready for a bumpy ride into the dark, Georgia woods with some of the nastiest characters I’ve come across in a long time. Young bank teller Charlie Colquitt was opening the bank with his manager on a normal Saturday morning, when hell burst through the door, killing his manager and taking him hostage. Hell, in this case, goes by the name of Hobe Hicklin, member of the Aryan Brotherhood, fresh off a long stretch in prison, and on the run from the partners that he decided to double cross out of the heist, and their take of the cash. Along with his junkie girlfriend, Hummingbird, Hicklin takes Charlie to a cottage in the woods to hide out and catch his breath. This is where things get really rough…

All Charlie can think about is going to school and building rockets. Somewhat of a savant, socially awkward, fiercely loved by his damaged and protective mother, Charlie is terrified when he’s taken hostage by Hicklin, but in the midst of the abuse that he suffers at the hands of Hicklin (and the pitiful, broken Hummingbird), something else begins to happen. Hicklin isn’t sure at all why he took Charlie hostage, but years of crime, prison, scoring quick cash, and doling out the abuse that was also heaped on him as a child have taken their toll, and you can sense the weariness in Hicklin, even if he is akin to a coiled snake, always just about to strike. The law is racing to find Hicklin and Co., in the form of Sheriff Tommy Lang and GBI agent Sallie Crews, but it’s not the law he’s worried about, it’s his former partners, and fellow AB members, that give him pause, because they’ll be out for blood (and they give Hicklin a run for his money in the mean department.) Make no mistake, Hobe Hicklin is a nasty, mean, no good son of a bitch, so how in the heck did I start to feel a glimmer of sympathy for this man by the end of this book?? I’m gonna chalk that up to Peter Farris’ talent as a writer, and he has plenty of it. I thought I knew where this book was going, and it surprised me at nearly every turn. Speaking of surprises: in addition to the tight, no-nonsense writing and pacing that doesn’t let up, there’s a scene in this book that I can only describe as awesome (in the classic sense.) I’ll just say that it involves a church revival, rattle snakes, and a shoot-out, and leave it at that. It’s amazing, and it left me with my jaw hanging open, blinking in shock. This whole book (in particular that scene) just screams “big-screen”, but I digress… It’s not for the faint of heart, though, and the terms “gritty”, “visceral”, and “raw” definitely come to mind. If you’re looking for a book that will shock you out of your current “book rut”, or a suspense novel that is just straight up made of awesome, look no further than Last Call For the Living!

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