But Matthew knows the terrifying truth. The ultimate evil doesn't reside in his friend's twisted soul. It comes from a far darker place, a place only Matthew knows. And only Matthew can stop the evil — if he dares.
From the moment he saw the girl in the snowstorm, Flynn had less than an hour to live. But he’ll remember his last fifty minutes long after he’s dead. As an investigator for Suffolk County Child Protective Services, Flynn has seen more than his share of misery, but nothing could prepare him for the nightmare inside the Shepards’ million-dollar Long Island home. In less than an hour, that nightmare will send him plunging into a frozen harbor—and awaken him to a reality even more terrifying.
They’ve nicknamed Flynn “The Miracle Man” because few have ever been resuscitated after being dead so long. But a determined homicide detective and a beautiful, inquisitive reporter have questions about what really happened at the Shepard house—and why the people around Flynn are suddenly being murdered. Flynn has questions of his own, especially when one of the victims dies while handing him a note: THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. Flynn has returned from the Midnight Road—and someone wants to send him back.
Five years ago, Eddie Whitt’s daughter Sarah became the victim of a serial killer known as Killjoy, and Whitt vowed to hunt him down—no matter what the cost. But the police have given up. And Killjoy has stopped killing…and in some bizarre act of repentance has begun kidnapping abused infants and leaving them with the parents of his original victims.
The only clues to Killjoy’s identity lie in a trail of taunting letters. And even as they lead Whitt to a deadly cult—and closer to his prey—he begins to suspect that, like his wife, he’s losing his grip on reality: Sarah’ s dollhouse is filled with eerie activity, as if her murder never occurred. As dark forces rise around him, Whitt must choose—between believing that evil can repent…and stepping into a trap set by a killer who may know the only way to save Whitt’s soul.
For unknown reasons, Pace is able to see others’ delusions–when alternates take over members of the group, Pace alone is able to interact with each persona. Included among them is Princess Eirrin, a ten thousand year old sorceress and heir to the Atlantean throne; Smoker, a half-breed gunman from 1880s Arizona; Thaddeus, friend and companion to St. Paul; and the ancient Greek architect Daedalus, who soared among the clouds with his home-made wax wings and watched his son perish in the sea.
Now the four find themselves under attack from assassins sent by Kaltzas to punish the person who attacked his daughter. Conflicting stories abound about Cassandra–whether she was raped, if she was perhaps murdered, or if she and Pace somehow crossed paths even before the hospital. In fact, she may not even exist.
As the attacks persist, the group is forced to face their own personal traumas and terrors, and go in search of Kaltzas in Greece. There, on an island where fantasy, myth, and truth are all entangled, Pace and his many alternates must sift through madness and deceit to unlock the mystery. And everyone may wind up dead unless Pace willingly unleashes the most brutal killer of all: Nightjack.
HORROR WORLD REVIEW
"These noir themed plotlines in the stories presented in The Death Panel are like a deep breath of fresh air; it’s nice to break with convention occasionally and these stories do so wonderfully. I found myself glued to this book, and when finished, I wanted to read more, it was that enjoyable. So if you’re looking for something a little different to read in your horror fiction, a book with stories that are edgy and cool as all hell, then pick up The Death Panel, and then be prepared to be blown away by some of the best genre short story fiction written in the last few years. Yes, this book is that good."
MONSTER LIBRARIAN REVIEW
"If you are a horror fan who wants to expand your horizons, I highly recommend picking up The Death Panel."
"With sharp writing and a crisp design to match, the anthology makes a strong case for 2009’s best. It’s only Comet Press’ third release, but already, the small-press label has distinguished itself as a reliable name brand. Pick it up, if you’ve got the balls." —Rod Lott
An ex-cop, Finn was left literally blinded by violence. The one thing he can still see is the body of his wife, Dani, and a crime scene that won’t fade from his mind’ s eye. Now a professor, Finn never would have guessed that an isolated girls’ prep school could be every bit as dangerous as city streets. Especially when he stumbles upon a local girl lying in a graveyard in the middle of a raging blizzard.
Finn may live in a world of total darkness, but it’s about to get a splash of red. The memories that torment him still have the power to kill, and a group of innocent students has been put in harm’s way by a pair of vicious criminals stalking Finn for unknown reasons. Secrets are creeping from the shadows around him—the kind that even a man with perfect vision never sees until it’s too late. They’re about to become terrifyingly clear to Finn—and it all begins with the scent of blood.
Raised to pick a pocket before he could walk, Terry Rand cut free from his family after his older brother, Collie, went on a senseless killing spree that left eight dead. Five years later, only days before his scheduled execution, Collie contacts Terry and asks him to return home. Collie claims he wasn’t responsible for one of the murders—and insists that the real killer is still on the loose.
Dogged by his own demons, Terry is swept back into the schemes and scams of his family: His father, Pinsch, a retired cat burglar, brokenhearted because of his two sons. His card-sharp uncles, Mal and Grey, who’ve incurred the anger of the local mob. His grandfather, Shep, whose mind is failing but whose fingers can still slip out a wallet from across the room. His teenage sister, Dale, who’s flirting dangerously with the lure of the family business. And Kimmie, the woman Terry abandoned, who’s now raising a child with Terry’s former best friend.
Terry pieces together the day his brother turned rabid, delving into a blood history that reveals the Rand family tree is rotten to the roots, and the secrets his ancestors buried are now coming furious and vengeful to the surface.
A meditation on how love can confine a person just as easily as it can free him, juxtaposing shocking violence and sly humor, The Last Kind Words is the brilliantly inventive family saga that only a singular talent like Tom Piccirilli could conjure.
Praise for The Last Kind Words
“A crime noir mystery as hard-boiled as any in recent memory, recalling the work of Chandler, Pelecanos and Connelly . . . Readers literally will be pinned to their seats until the last page is turned.”—Bookreporter
“At once a dark and brooding page-turner and a heartfelt tale about the ties that bind.”—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Heartbroken
“[A] caustic thriller . . . The characters have strong voices and bristle with funny quirks.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Piccirilli] deserves a breakout novel, and this just might be it.”—Booklist (starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.