THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK. By Tom Piccirilli. Bantam Books. 315 pages. $26.

Chill, depressing, rainy afternoons call for chill, depressing books, and “The Last Whisper in the Dark” fills the bill perfectly.

Just about every character except the dog is an emotionally messed-up criminal. There are several plots wending around each other, and they all showcase the despair of dysfunctional families, illness, dementia, drugs, murder and such.

“The Last Whisper in the Dark” is an absorbing book that brings back the Rand family from award-winning author Tom Piccirilli’s “The Last Kind Words.”

Terry Rand is trying to help several people, including his former lover, whose husband has disappeared after a botched bank robbery has the police and the bad guys looking for him. None of Rand’s efforts result in happy endings.

Well-written as it is, “The Last Whisper” is a dispiriting book. It’s a story readers can easily fall into, but when it’s over, they’ll be glad to climb back out into a happier reality.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.