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Sorrow's Crown
Genre: Suspense
Series: missing
Ratings: ★★★★☆
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Year:
ISBN: 9780425170281
List Price: 0.00
Download: EPUB MOBI


The Barnes & Noble Review

People always make two assumptions about fiction writers: A) that they make a lot of money and B) that they have a lot of free time on their hands. All writers have stories about people who "drop in" unexpectedly (I'm dealing with B here first) because they just "know" that your schedule is flexible and you'd just be delighted to spend the next six or seven hours yacking. Never mind deadlines, irritable editors, and the dwindling bank account.

As for A: People magazine and the TV news entertainment shows are always reporting stories about the homeless man who wrote his first novel on the side of a building, had the whole wall photographed, and then sold the whole thing to Random House for $72 million. Who doesn't love a good story like that?

The short answers: No, most writers don't have all that much money — nor do they have all that much free time.

Most major careers build slowly. Ask Dean Koontz. Or Tony Hillerman. Or Barbara Michaels. True, publishers would like to accelerate the pace of career building, but they've lost millions, if not billions, trying it in vain. There are exceptions, yes. But not many.

Tom Piccirilli is building a major career. He's been around something like ten years, has rarely been published well or widely, and has had only one year that I'd call "successful," that being 1998. A lot of good things happened to him in this past year, and he deserved every one of them.

For all his love of horror fiction (he's got his own cult following), for me his most interesting work is in the mystery field, where he is taking the cozyformand investing it with elements of hard-boiled. The only other writer I've seen attempt this successfully is the estimable Nancy Pickard. And maybe Lawrence Block in The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart.

Piccirilli's new Jon Kendricks novel, Sorrow's Crown, has enough laughs and sentimental moments to please the coziest cozy fans — and enough brooding observation to make hard-boiled fans very happy, too. He has made this fusion of forms entirely his own, especially in the way he is able to reference all sorts of authors (James Agee, Sartre, David Goodis, and Sheldon Lord, one of Larry Block's old pen names) with all sorts of down-home Mayberry-style moments.

He plays all the fun off a sad, dark mystery involving an addled caretaker who is put in a hospital for the criminally insane for a murder he may or may not have committed. Grandma Anna, who shares equal billing with Jon, convinces her grandson to look into what really happened. She doesn't think the caretaker is guilty.

To repeat: I've rarely seen a mystery novel with the grace and gentle humanity of a cozy crossed with the rougher edges of the contemporary crime novel. And to do so with such skill and self-assurance....

Piccirilli has done what all the great mystery series writers do: He's created a world you want to visit again, and as soon as possible. You want to walk the streets of Felicity Grove and smell Grandma's cooking and steal a look at all the pretty girls and sit on a bench in the park and say hi to the squirrels and dogs and oldsters at their checker game.

As I said as the top, Tom Piccirilli's career has been building slowly — and has now suddenly accelerated. Read Sorrow's Crown and find out why.

Ed Gorman's latest novels include Daughter of Darkness, Harlot's Moon, and Black River Falls, the latter of which "proves Gorman's mastery of the pure suspense novel," says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ABC-TV has optioned the novel as a movie. Gorman is also the editor of Mystery Scene Magazine, which Stephen King calls "indispensable" for mystery readers.