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Book Review- The Cold Spot

I love crime novels. There’s just something about them that speaks to me, and for some reason I seem to really enjoy reading them in the winter. Maybe the dark, bleak weather makes a dark, bleak story even more fascinating. When it came time to choose my latest winter crime novel I chose a book with a fitting title, Tom Piccirilli’s “The Cold Spot”

It’s my understanding that Piccirilli is mainly a horror writer and that “The Cold Spot” was one of his first major attempts at a straight up crime novel. I had read one of his horror novels. I thought his licensed “Hellboy” novel “Emerald Hell” was one of the best in that series of books. So I was curious to see what Piccirilli could do with a crime story.

As it turns out he can do a lot. “The Cold Spot” stars Chase, a young thief who served as a wheelman for his Grandfather’s gang of thieves. When Chase is just a teenager his grandfather murders a member of their crew right before Chase’s eyes. It’s an experience that freaks him out and sends him off wandering on his own . After a few years he does something unexpected, he meets and falls in love with a Deputy Sheriff. Chase abandons his life of crime and marries her and tries to settle in for a normal life. Then one day Chase’s wife is taken from him by violence. That violence pushes Chase back into his old life. He reaches out to his grandfather for aid on a mission of vengeance.

“The Cold Spot” is a fast and fascinating read. A lot of that is because of the character of Chase himself. It’s interesting that Piccirilli chose to make Chase a wheelman. He’s a driver and incredibly driven. In fact the most interesting and compelling chapters of “The Cold Spot” are when you’re alone with Chase and Piccirilli lets you inside his head. Early on you’re pulled into the story as you see Chase trying to distance himself from his grandfather. Later on in the story Chase pulls you in again as you get caught up in his anger and thirst for vengeance over what happened to his wife.

Part of the reason why that works so well too is Piccirilli spends an ample amount of time developing the relationship between Chase and his wife. It’s a believable and beautiful one. You get a good sense of their devotion to each other and you understand what Chase sees in her. When she’s taken from you, you the reader, want  justice as well.

Looming large over the story is Chase’s grandfather, Jonah who reminded me of an older version of Richard Stark’s/Donald Westlake’s Parker character. Like Parker, Jonah is a pretty interesting thief but his scenes didn’t feel as compelling to me as the ones with just Chase. Later on though Piccirilli gives some background on Jonah and has him do some surprising but believable things. So he was a character that grew on me.

“The Cold Spot” isn’t just a character study it contains several scenes of action and brutal violence. Piccirilli wrote these scenes very well. They rang true because they happened quickly, were messy, and had consequences for just about every one involved.

So if you’re looking for a quick fun, crime novel to get you through the winter blues pick up “The Cold Spot”. You’ll be glad you did.

Categories: Book Review

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