November Mourns

Tom Piccirilli
November Mourns Cover

November Mourns


Like most of the young men in their twenties who are the protagonists of Tom Piccirilli's novels, Shad Jenkins receives visits from the dead. In Shad's case the ghost is the mother he never knew. She died shortly after he was born. But a few days before Shad's release from prison, his father calls to say that Shad's younger stepsister has been found dead on Gospel Trail Road. Her heart stopped. It is as though she simply went to sleep. The local police call it "death by misadventure," but before he leaves prison Shad's sister, or at least her hands, visit him in the night, beckoning him to come to her aid. He knows that when he returns to his Appalachian home, he has work to do.

November Mourns is not as good as The Choir of Ill Children, the Piccirilli novel that precedes it, or that which follows it, Headstone City. Its Appalachian setting comes off as a cruder version of the Southern swampland setting of Choir. Incestuous couple's and their deformed offspring share the stage with those so wasted on moonshine that their toothless mouths and bloated bodies might just as well belong to a corpse. As in Choir there is one ancient conjure woman for the hero to consult, and both Shad and Piccirilli seem to like her. But most of the other characters are sketched in as ignorant and gross. Shad works to unravel the mystery surrounding his sister's death, but the sleuthing involved reads like a dry run for what will work much better in Headstone City. That said, I have to admit that the snake handlers Shad spends time with are as weird, entertaining, and homicidal as you could hope for.

This is a minor entertainment from a dependable author.