cover image The Fever Kill

The Fever Kill

Tom Piccirilli, . . Creeping Hemlock, $16.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-9769217-4-5

At the start of this introspective, low-key thriller from Stoker-winner Piccirilli (The Midnight Road), the enigmatic Crease tools his ’Stang back to his childhood home of Hangtree, Vt., where “the adolescent pain clung to your back like a clawed animal.” Now 27 and an undercover narc in New York City, Crease remains haunted by the shooting of a kidnapped girl by his lawman father, an event that scarred their lives. Piccirilli marches Crease through the obligatory encounters with childhood sweethearts, bullies and other figures from the past, and throws on some extra voltage by having his hero trailed home by a knife-wielding drug dealer. Occasional bursts of hotter prose (“Lightning blitzkrieged him with every beat of his pulse”) liven up the very familiar plot, but the idea that Vermont “was a spooky place compared to New York” never quite convinces. An introduction by Ken Bruen may draw some attention to this quiet brush with neo-noir, the first full-length novel from a small press that previously specialized in novelettes. (Dec.)