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Review: Last Call for the Living by Peter Farris

Chris Leek
Independent Reviewer

 This week it’s all about honor among thieves and a whole other kind of deliverance as we take a look at Peter Farris’s Georgia back country ballet, Last Call for the Living.
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Charlie Colquitt is a bit of a strange fish. He sleeps so deeply his momma calls him Coma, but he’s the apple of her only eye and a bright kid. Charlie wants to trade his model rocket kits for a shot at building the real thing and helps pay for his collage education by working part time as a bank teller.

It was just like any other Saturday morning in Jubilation County, only a 3 hour shift for Charlie, then back to his model rockets. But all that changed when Hobe Hicklin poked his double-barreled nose through the doors of the bank.  

Hicklin is a career criminal and a ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood, but his loyalties have changed since he got out of prison. His next score is one that he plans to take all for himself.  Pulling a double cross on both the Brotherhood and his partners, Hicklin hits the bank early and takes off with a trunk load of cash and Charlie Colquitt as his hostage.  
Holed up in a backwoods cabin with Hicklin and his sex crazed, tweeker girlfriend, Charlie’s life suddenly becomes a wild and precarious thing. He finds himself drawn into a dark existence of drug addled sex and brutal violence. But Hicklin can’t hide out forever and sooner or later his past will catch up with all of them.

Last Call for the living is much more than a stand and deliver bank robbery caper. Sure there are plenty of hard lessons being handed out and a decent body count, but there is also a depth here that goes beyond the blood and bullets.  Peter Farris has taken an unflinching look at some badly broken lives and examined the collateral damage suffered by the men who broke them. His characters may all be hopelessly flawed human beings, but it’s Farris’s honest and often sympathetic treatment of those flaws that really make this an exceptional story. 
As a debut novel Last Call for the Living is about as good as it gets, eloquent, hugely enjoyable and hard as the kick from a 12 gauge Mossberg. The quality of Farris’s writing is astoundingly good and I can see why he is already being mentioned in the same breath as Woodrell and McCarthy.  Last Call will probably wind up being my favorite book of 2012 and if you haven’t done so already, you really should check it out.