The Last Deep Breath
Tasmaniac Publications, 2010
Novella, 124 pages, $14.00
Review by Wayne C. Rogers
Before I delve into the review of Tom Piccirilli’s newest novella, The Last Deep Breath, allow me to mention that Tasmaniac Publications, which is based in Australia, now has an American distributor. That means you can get your orders faster and at less cost for shipping. It also means there is now no excuse for not picking up copies of The Nobody and The Last Deep Breath, if you’re fan of this extremely gifted writer.
But, what do I think about Tom Piccirilli and his novella, The Last Deep Breath?
Being an avid reader of not only horror fiction, but also crime, mystery, suspense, action thrillers, and neo noir, I have to say that Tom Piccirilli is definitely a cross between Raymond Chandler and Andrew Vachss. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you read The Cold Spot, The Coldest Mile, The Nobody, and The Last Deep Breath. But, be warned. Tom Piccirilli takes no prisoners. Picking up and reading one of his books is like becoming a crack addict. You simply can’t stop with one and have to find everything he’s written to keep from pulling your hair out in angst and sticking your head into the oven with the setting on high. That’s how talented this author is.
The Last Deep Breath is a novella of only a hundred pages (there’s a twenty page short story, “Between the Dark and the Daylight” at the end of the book), but it reads so fast that it seems like ten. The story deals with a hard-nose character named Grey, who comes home one day to his apartment in the Village, only to discover his sister, Ellie, on the outside stoop with a four-inch blade in her side. Though he hasn’t seen her in a decade, he feels responsible for her and tries to help her with the wound and by giving her a place to crash for however long she needs. Unfortunately, Ellie quickly disappears, taking what cash her brother as saved. The only thing Grey has to go on is the name of a person she mentioned-Johnny.
This eventually leads him on a journey across country to hopefully find the man he thinks stabbed her. On his way to Los Angeles, Grey will encounter a lot of women in bars who take one look at him and think he’s just the right man for murdering their husbands. He manages to make it to the city of dreams without killing anyone, but gets entangled with an ex-actress named Kendra, who’s just as tough as he is and knows the inside and out of La-la Land. Grey will encounter a lot of unusual people during his search for Johnny – a crazy, manipulating agent who wants his wife killed, a porn actor who’s hung like a horse and always gets a round of applause whenever he has an orgasm during the filming of an X-rated movie, and a pimp/drug dealer who finds out about love the hard way. Nothing is as it seems in The Last Deep Breath, and the ending will have you salivating for more adventures with Grey.
Why Tom Piccirilli isn’t on everybody’s bestseller list with each new outing is a question that can’t be answered, much like the one about what was here before the Big Bang fifteen billion years ago. This guy is as good as they come, and each story or novella or novel he writes is something that’s sought after by his many fans like the quest for the Rosetta stone. If you want damn good stories and hard-ass characters, then Piccirilli is your man.
Get a copy of The Last Deep Breath, and then go back and read The Nobody and any of his other novels that you can get your hands on. This is an author whose books you want on your shelf. This is also a writer who knows how to tell a great story that people actually want to read!