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Home » Books & writing

First Impressions 6.22.12

Submitted by on June 21, 2012 – 10:47 pm 26 Comments
last kind words cover

Today sees the return of my featuring three openers from new or upcoming books for you to determine which make(s) you want to keep reading. Intros with long descriptions of weather and/or scenery are immediately disqualified.

This week’s selections:

The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli, Bantam, available now

I’d come five years and two thousand miles to stand in the rain while they prepared my brother for his own murder.

He had two weeks to go before they strapped him down and injected poison into his heart. I knew Collie would be divided about it, the way he was divided about everything. A part of him would look forward to stepping off the big ledge. He’d been looking over it his whole life in one way or another.

I moved this book up my TBR pile based on this tweet from Piccirilli last week: “I knocked down a cripple, threw the book at his head, and took $25 out of his wallet. #howtosell” If he can entertain me with fewer than 140 characters, what can he do with a whole book?


Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft, Emily Bestler Books/Atria, available now


Östergötland, Tuesday, January 31

In the darkness.

Don’t hit me. Do you hear me? Leave me alone.

No, no, let me in. Apples, the scent of apples. I can almost taste them.

Don’t leave me standing here, in the cold and wet. The wind feels like nails that tear at my hands, my face, until there is no frosted skin, no flesh, no fat left on my bones, my skull.

Haven’t you noticed I’m gone? You couldn’t care less, really, could you?

What the hell is going on here? I’m intrigued.


The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood, Viking, available now


June 2003

They heard the caterwaul of sirens, and saw the dust rising underneath the ambulance wheels at the far end of the driveway, and soon the darkening garden was a wash of flashing blue lights. It only seemed real when they told the paramedics where to find the bodies. There was one upstairs on the top floor, they said, another in the organ house, and one more at the foot of the garden—the riverbank in a nest of flattened rushes, with the cold water lapping against his feet. When the paramedics asked for his name, they said it was Eden. Eden Bellwether.

What do you think? Any of these pique your interest?



  • Finished THE LAST KIND WORDS day before yesterday. Not only was that opener a grabber, the whole book is going to kick your behind. I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t end up on my Top 10 of 2012 list come the end of the year.

  • Jann says:

    The Last Kind Words. No contest. I NEED to read this now. Thanks, Elyse.

  • Eric Beetner says:

    I say the winner for best opening line in next year’s Stalker awards has already been determined by this line from Greg Rucka’s Alpha.
    “Mario Vesquez was sure was going to make it, right up until he saw the knife in the dog’s hand.”

  • I’d definitely read the Piccirilli, it’s been on my radar for a little while anyway. His short stories are wonderful. And THE BELLWETHER REVIVALS has an intriguing opening. I probably wouldn’t be in a rush to read the Kallentoft book, but I wouldn’t overlook it.

  • Lauren says:

    While Piccirilli’s opening is intriguing, it also brings to mind the age-old wrongly-convicted-about-to-be-put-to-death-convict story. That being said, in the right hands that can be a powerful story. Having heard countless superlatives about this book, it will certainly be on the top of my TBR, but more on the basis of things other than the opening.

    And again, this is coming from the viewpoint of a reader who never reads openings (well, until I’m actually reading the book, that is. Then it’s kind of required).

    I also have a hard time “judging” these books without letting the covers influence me. I am TOTALLY cover-influenced. To wit, last year’s The Sisters Brothers hardcover got a Stalker Award nomination from me. The paperback cover is so creepy I won’t even pick it up in the store. Tom’s cover is one that speaks to me, so on that basis as well the book garners points.

    I seriously laughed out loud when reading the Kallentoft opening, because it sounded so similar to that Simon Lelic book you had on the post a few weeks ago that I kept expecting the “dirty ending.” Didn’t get it. Still, somewhat intriguing and the cover is ok, if not a bit generic (calls to mind several other recent books). Would probably be my third choice here.

    The Bellweather opening is really interesting. The cover throws me off, because it harkens something historical and thus the 2003 date of the opening makes me wonder just what is going on. This is definitely one I’ll check out to see what the plot it. May make the TBR based on that, but I also really like the opening.

    Apparently, I have quite a bit to ramble on about today. Alpha is also on my TBR and I can’t wait to see what’s going on with that armed dog. Hank has the dog-cam, but not the dog-uzi. Which is probably a good thing.

  • EIREGO says:

    LAST KIND WORDS – Bleak! Sounds like something I would have to be in the mood for. I can’t deal with the death penalty issues.

    MIDWINTER BLOOD – “WTH is going on here?” is right! Can’t tell if it’s brilliant or if it’s a language issue. Those Scandinavians are a real hit or miss for me. One minute I’m really into the story and there’s suddenly 5 pages of worth of Ikea appliance description.

    THE BELLWETHER REVIVALS – From the title alone, it sounded like the name of an old 60s rock band getting back together. Even though this passage reads like a standard police procedural, I’m drawn to it for some reason.

  • Lauren: “…brings to mind the age-old wrongly-convicted-about-to-be-put-to-death-convict story.”

    It’s not. It’s amazingly different than what you’re thinking.

  • Pop Culture Nerd says:

    Elizabeth—Oooh, now I’m even more excited to read it.

    Jann—Hope you got your hands on a copy and cleared some time this weekend!

    Eric—Yup, the knife-wielding dog definitely grabbed my attention. I featured it in a First Impressions post couple months ago.

    Naomi—Maybe we should all read the Piccirilli this weekend and compare notes next week.

    Lauren—Love your long comments! Don’t you expect a dirty ending for everything? It’s interesting how much covers influence you. A good one will catch my eye when I’m browsing, but it’s the opening that makes me decide whether or not to take the book home with me.

    EIREGO—I’m OK with bleak as long as it holds my interest. And I know what you mean about those strange digressions in some Scandinavian crime novels! I recently encountered one in Lars Kepler’s THE NIGHTMARE that left me scratching my head.

    • Sorry, no can do this weekend. I’ve got Roger Smith’s newest already slated for that time. Go ahead and start without me.

      • Lauren says:

        Don’t have my own blog so I have to rant on yours.

        Would be fun to try and read LKW together, I know the DSD Reading Group is reading it now also.

        Naomi – Would love to hear about the new Roger Smith when you’re done.

      • I’m about a week behind you on the Smith book and having a hard time not jumping it up the queue.

        • Looks like I may not get to Roger’s book this weekend after all. I’m in the middle of Håkan Nesser’s THE INSPECTOR AND SILENCE and enjoying it more than I expected I would. Lauren, you’ll probably hear from me about it. He hasn’t written anything yet that I haven’t liked. I’m stunned that American publishers consider his work too dark to take a chance on. What kind of wishy-washy readers work at those publishing houses nowadays?

          • Lauren says:

            A “quiet man with a good mind”? Count me in! Put it on my list, Naomi, do tell what you think when you’re done. And you know I love ‘the dark.’

            • I enjoyed Nesser’s book. The ending let me down a bit though. I should say the resolution of the crimes let me down a bit; what happens to the main character at the end, that I liked. I don’t usually rate books but I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. Maybe just a fraction less because of that ending.

      • Pop Culture Nerd says:

        Oh, gosh, I have to add Roger’s book, too. Someone needs to invent a “read while you sleep” app.

        I’ve never read Nesser’s series but my ears perked up when you said “too dark.” Definitely going to look into it.

        • Oops! Pardon my pronouns, PCN! It’s Roger Smith the publishers consider too dark. Nesser’s book is good but it doesn’t delve so deeply into the dark as Smith usually does.

          • Lauren says:

            Went to my local indie yesterday to get some birthday cards and The Inspector and the Silence was right on the front table of new paperbacks. Pretty cool! ALMOST bought it, but want your final thoughts. I’m guessing if it’s not to religiousy for you, it won’t be for me but awaiting confirmation. Ha! No pun intended.

            • It’s interesting the way the author deals with the religious sect in the book. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and so far there isn’t a lot of preaching from the sect; in fact they say almost nothing which is very frustrating for the cops. The main character is so disgusted with religiosity as a whole that the reader is almost pushed to sympathize (just a tiny bit) with the sect. I am VERY curious to learn whodunnem. I don’t know that I’ve fallen in love with the main character, but he’s different enough to keep me reading this book. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but something about the book (not necessarily the character) reminds me of the Maigret series.

  • Lauren says:

    Ok, Benoit’s comment is the final straw. Naomi and E, think we can find a time to read this together? Maybe hook Rhonda in, too? What say you?

  • stacybuckeye says:

    I love the opening to The Last Kind Words and I’m intrigued, cool tweets or not!

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