June 12, 2012

Book Review: Last Call for the Living

Peter Farris's debut novel, Last Call for the Living, is an in-your-face crime thriller that starts out with a simple heist: Hobe Hicklin, a violent ex-con, hits up an isolated bank branch in rural Georgia. For reasons that Hicklin can't quite explain, though, he takes one teller hostage, and the life of Charlie Colquitt, a quiet and nerdy college student, life will never be the same.

Hicklin takes Charlie to his hideaway in the woods, where Charlie lives in fear of his life, and yet is undeniably fascinated by the enigmatic Hicklin and his meth-head girlfriend, Hummingbird. As the days pass, the three of them fall into uneasy patterns of familiarity, and Charlie begins to feel a surprising bond to Hicklin. But Hicklin's Aryan Brotherhood pals, who set up the robbery, are very unhappy that he jumped the gun and took the cash for himself. They're torturing anyone who knew Hicklin to find out where he is, and the cops and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are on Hicklin's heels too. Suddenly the hideaway is a lot less hidden, and Hicklin must run for it again.

Gritty and real, Last Call for the Living shows the dark side of rural Georgia's sketchy bars, trailers and snake-handling charismatic churches. As the cops and the villains work equally hard to find Hicklin, they showcase two very different sides of southern society. Readers along for the ride may be shocked and horrified, but never bored.

The back of the book had a blurb comparing it to Cormac McCarthy novels. The only Cormac McCarthy book I ever read was The Road (and I hated it) - but I saw the movie of No Country for Old Men, and this book did remind me of that. So I think if you're a McCarthy fan you'd probably enjoy this. And, you can picture Hobe Hicklin with a haircut much better than Javier Bardem's.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Nope. There are some pretty graphic torture scenes which I feel that grandmas will not enjoy.
I wrote this review for Shelf Awareness. It originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

Do you like dark mysteries? 
Are you a Cormac McCarthy fan?