For bank teller Charlie Colquitt, it was just another Saturday. For Hobe Hicklin, an ex-con with nothing to lose, it was just another score. For Hobe’s drug-addled, sex-crazed girlfriend, it was just more lust, violence, and drugs. But in this gripping narrative, nothing is as it seems.
Hicklin’s first mistake was double-crossing his partners in the Aryan Brotherhood. His second mistake was taking a hostage. But he and Charlie can only hide out for so long in the mountains of north Georgia before the sins of Hicklin’s past catch up to them.
Hot on Hicklin’s trail are a pair of ruthless Brotherhood soldiers, ready to burn a path of murder and mayhem to get their revenge. GBI Special Agent Sallie Crews and Sheriff Tommy Lang catch the case, themselves no strangers to the evil men are capable of. Soon Crews is making some dangerous connections while for the hard-drinking, despondent Lang, rescuing Charlie Colquitt might be the key to personal salvation.
Peter Farris is a clever writer, because his story is told by different characters–Hicklin’s telling his side of things, then it’s Sheriff Lang’s point of view, then Charlie’s–you get the picture. At first I found the alternating narrators kind of unsettling; I felt the story shifted gears too abruptly at times. But as I kept reading, I found that the story moved along quickly and logically, the scenes shifting as the characters told their stories. The action built in intensity until the last page, and there was lots of action! There are also flashbacks, and I liked the way Farris weaved the past and present together to keep the story rolling along.
Charlie Colquitt, who only wants to build rockets, goes to his bank job for a Saturday morning shift. Charlie’s daydreaming about what he will do after working this shift, and then all hell breaks loose. His life is changed forever, in just a few moments, as he is taken hostage by the violent bank robber. Charlie’s mother is left behind to worry, and as she grieves her loss, she remembers her life before Charlie was born. And how she felt when she learned she was pregnant.
Some folks may find Last Call for the Living hard to read–it’s violent, the language is foul and at times racist, but this story grew on me as it moved along. Farris developed his characters well, showing the good, the bad, the evil, and the just plain dumb traits that make up human beings. I saw the human side of the abusive abusive killer Hicklin ; it shocked me, but I was amazed he could feel something besides hate. I did not see that emotion coming from this character. And then at one point, I decided that Charlie Colquitt could be a real twit sometimes. I felt a bit guilty, the guy was going through bloody hell. But I still thought he was a twit!
As hard as this book is to read at times, it also rings true for me. For these characters, this is their lives and realities. I’ve worked with violent offenders and addicts, and Farris crafted his characters well. The dialogue is simple, but clear. Farris doesn’t use fifty cent words or long sentences to tell his story.
I’m giving Last Call for The Living 4 stars, a compelling story that kept me reading until the last page. The only part of this book I could not handle was the snakes. Yuck! I found the snakes more distasteful than the violence and the language.