Noir fiction is, according to Wiki, a literary genre closely tied to hardboiled fiction, with the main difference being the protagonist is not a detective, but a victim, a suspect, or, more commonly, a perpetrator or criminal.
Tom Piccirilli’s Every Shallow Cut is the latest in his long line of books. Dark and gritty, it places the reader deep inside the world of a writer’s descent into madness and violence. Piccirilli is known for both his horror and crime releases, but this novel crosses and blurs genre boundaries, combining both with a strong noir element.
Throughout the book, short and sharp sentences punch the reader rather than inform them, which reminds of the style of Jim Thompson.
We are brought into the life of the unnamed protagonist after everything has already gone to the dogs. The reader is introduced to the self-confessed ‘homeless loser drifter’ as he is being robbed outside a pawnshop. He is attempting to sell off the remnants of his parents’ art and coin collection when he is accosted by three young gangsters. After a bitter marriage breakup, after watching his life spiral down the drain, and after losing everything, it is too much to sit back while the young punks attempt to kill his dog. He remembers that he is ‘a man with nothing left who wrote stories about men with nothing left who did ungodly acts of violence against each other.’ And then he acts accordingly.
From this point, he sinks deeper into a world of violence, finally becoming the hard-nosed criminal he once merely wrote about.
The prose is sparse, the narrative voice is dark, and the journey is without remorse.
Piccirilli has touched on the way life works for some of us – hard, brutal, and without hope or redemption. If you like your fiction tainted by the darkness inside humanity, the darkness we are all capable of inflicting on one another, then Piccirilli is your man.
If you like happy endings then don’t look here, because Every Shallow Cut has nothing for you.
Paperback/eBook (175 pp)
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