Monday, December 05, 2011

Tom Piccirilli: The Cold Spot

I'd heard lots of good things about Tom Piccirilli's The Cold Spot, so I was very happy to receive a copy from a friend of mine. He said he didn't like it so much, but clearly he was wrong, since this is an excellent novel.

There was an outburst of books about getaway drivers some years ago: The Cold Spot was accompanied with James Sallis's Drive and Duane Swierczynski's The Wheelman. I managed to get those books translated and published in Finnish by Arktinen Banaani in the ill-fated paperback series (under the titles Kylmä kyyti and Keikkakuski, respectively). I didn't think at the time The Cold Spot should be translated, because the theme resembled so much those of Sallis's and Swierczynski's books, but now, after reading the book, I have to say this should've also been translated.

Piccirilli (can't help those who find the writer's surname a bit funny: "pikkirilli" means the little finger in Finnish) writes mean and lean prose that's sparse, but very touching and deep-felt at the same time. His grip of the material is very professionally handled, there's nothing too much, but also nothing too little. The story is about a young man, called Chase, who's taken into criminal life by his grandfather to work as his getaway driver. Still a teenager, Chase becomes very good at his job, but there are serious doubts when his grandfather kills one of his gang members, seemingly without a reason. What follows is very touching and intense. The theme of revenge doesn't in the end become the defense of revenge, nor the glorification of violence and vigilantism.

My only gripe with the book is that I didn't buy the fact the main character's deceased father was a professor of literature. And not just that, I also didn't see why it was necessary. There's a scene in which Chase mentions some classic modernist plays, but that also felt a bit unnecessary. Still, recommended highly. The book has evolved into a series: this was followed by The Coldest Mile, and there's still The Cold and the Dead coming.

1 comment:

Cullen Gallagher said...

I really liked this, too. I haven't read the sequel yet. I also really enjoyed Piccirilli's Shadow Season, which came out around the same time as The Coldest Mile.