Throttle, by Joe Hill and Stephen King

Eight stars

Trying to fill a day-long gap before tackling a major reading project, I discovered two short stories about the issues of road rage. Having read the first—Richard Matheson’s Duel—I turned to this piece by father and son duo, Stephen King and Joe Hill. This piece is supposedly influenced by Matheson’s earlier work, packing just as much punch in a story about modern road rage. The spin makes it just as enjoyable, but equally unique. As an outlaw biker gang talks about a missed opportunity to score a pile of money when their meth lab explodes, they fail to notice a trucker sitting in his rig. By the time the trucker’s presence is noticed by the apparent leader of the rag-tag group, it’s time for the truck to hit the road. In a sort of panic, the bikers take it upon themselves to ensure their criminal ways are not discussed or reported to anyone. They take after the rig, in hopes of offering a lesson in permanent silence. However, this faceless driver is anything but docile, playing his own game with those on two wheels in a piece that pushes road rage to a new and bloody level. As the race is on, both sides seek to exert their own dominance, but there can only be one winner, as the Nevada highway stretches out before them. A great spin on the Matheson piece by these two stalwarts in the horror genre. Recommended to those who need a quick dose of King/Hill magic, as well as the reader who enjoyed Matheson’s piece (as I did) and wanted to see a modern reinterpretation.

I always love a good King story and his collaboration with his own son makes for an even better piece. I almost feel as though Richard Matheson deserves a shout out here, as though his initial creation of this road rage idea should not go unmentioned. King and Hill portray a modern version of the battle of the roads, where motorcycles have come to prove their own form of dominance. Offering the ‘War vet gone bad’ as the biker, the authors spin an interesting backstory of drugs and murder, as they seek to evade the law. When their past is overheard, they spring into action, trying to scrub out any witness (auditory in this case) to their crimes before seeking a new way to make some illegitimate cash. The race on the road becomes the central theme, though the reader will be just as surprised as the bikers about what awaits them. This is no Sunday afternoon drive! The authors pull Matheson’s clash off the page and inject more blood and horror, seeking to push the limits of the horror genre, while keeping things realistic. Strong character development and a well-paced narrative keep the reader on the edge of their seat as they flip pages, if only to see who will become the victor. I am pleased to have stumbled upon both the Matheson and King/Hill short stories, as they complement one another so well.

Kudos, Messrs. King and Hill, who built on a short story from long ago and made it their own. I enjoy your collaborative efforts and hope to stumble upon more when I need a fix!

The Institute: A Novel, by Stephen King

Nine stars

Long a fan of Stephen King’s work, I was eager to get my hands on this piece and take the journey. King seems to find so many ways to keep the reader enthralled with his plots and characters, as this book did not veer too far from those foundational building blocks. Luke Ellis is violently kidnapped from his Minneapolis home, his parents left murdered in their beds. When Luke awakes, he can vaguely recollect something having happened to him, but the specifics are entirely fuzzy. An exceptionally bright twelve year-old, Luke is unable to decipher what is going on around him, until he is introduced as the newest member of The Institute, a super-secret facility in Maine. Its residents are children, not necessarily blessed with great intelligence, but with the powers of telekinesis or telepathy. As Luke becomes a little more acquainted with his surroundings, he comes to understand that these powers are being used for some unknown mission, during which time the children are drained of their abilities, then have their memories zapped of any recollection surrounding The Institute. This highly-regimented place leaves little room for straying from the path, though Luke and his fellow residents can use their powers to discus options. Luke takes it upon himself to make a break, with the help of someone else, and get help for the larger group. While he is able to slide under a fence, it is only the start, as Luke must flee swiftly and get someone to believe his far-fetched tale. When Luke arrives in DuPray, South Carolina, he rests his hopes on a local police officer. Tim Jamieson may be new to the area, but he has a great deal of policing experience, which includes a gut for trouble. With members of The Institute using their connections around the country, Luke Ellis might be in more danger than he thinks, and Jamieson his only hope. But what of those left back in Maine? Well, that’s where the story gets even more interesting… Another stellar King novel that will leave the reader wondering how they got from A to Z and loving the adventure along the way. Recommended to those who have a passion for King’s energetic writing style, as well as readers who are not scared off by a book’s length and tangential narrative.

Stephen King is one of those writers that you will either love or hate, both sets of readers having made themselves known on my Goodreads feed of late. King never shies away from controversy, but he is happy to do so by layering his novels with themes and countless tangents, seeking to prove a point without always being blunt. I grew up not being permitted to read King and have since made a point of trying to devour much of his newer writing, as well as dabbling in some of his older work. This piece shows signs of being more like his newer work, where the gore and the crazy facets are less prevalent, leaving a story that needs telling to come to the surface. Luke Ellis finds himself in the middle of this piece and seems to be the ideal protagonist. While he is young—twelve being that formative age when everything is new or awkward—Luke does well throughout this novel, navigating much of what is placed before him. He must not only digest the death of his family, but the incarceration in this sinister ‘tele-prison’ of sorts, while trying to be both a leader and a child seeking guidance. King created the ideal young character here and the attentive reader will enjoy all the backstory and character development that comes along with it. Others who find their way into the story help shape the narratives, particularly Tim Jamieson, whose emergence in the opening portion of the book led me to wonder if this were another of those ‘down the rabbit hole’ moments when we would not see a character again after attaching ourselves to him. Jamieson serves as a protector and quasi-father figure to Luke as they try to wrestle The Institute and all it stands for before more children are harmed. The story itself serves as a wonderfully entertaining piece, though it is long. As with most King novels, the reader needs patience, which pays off in the long-run. There are many references to past King pieces, which is part of the adventure, as the reader tries to link the references to the different books. There is never a shortage of King works to pull upon or become excited about and they always leave the reader thinking, while also wanting more. I can say I am yearning for more and will keep my eyes open for more in the coming months!

Kudos, Mr. King, for always pushing the envelop a little more and keeping me on my toes. Brilliant work deserves much praise and I hope others see some of what I did in this novel.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Colorado Kid, by Stephen King

Eight stars

Turning to another short piece by Stephen King, I found this piece calling out to me. As King can vary greatly in his writing, I was not entirely sure what to expect, but found this mystery pulled me in while remaining as laid-back as a Maine summer’s day. Stephanie McCann is a journalism intern in a small Maine community, working alongside the town’s two newspaper reporters, Vince Teague and Dave Bowie. While Stephanie is looking to learn the nuances of small-town reporting, she is also looking for a story to call her own. Teague and Bowie cannot offer much, though there is that incident down at the church picnic that left some dead. Teague and Bowie seek to teach their muse something about reporting that includes building a story on a truth and then filling the cracks with supposition. However, there is one unsolved case that seeks a story, even if there is no concrete truth to serve as foundation. Back in 1980 or so, two high school kids found a body on the beach, a hunk of meat lodged in the throat. Further investigation showed that this was no local—as if the lack of anyone knowing him was not enough—and James Cogan was eventually identified as the victim. However, no one could tell how or why he ended up on the East Coast, hailing from Colorado. Cogan’s wife could not explain it, though she knew something odd was going on a while back. As Stephanie seeks to posit her own theory, she is kept on track by the two old journalists, who fill in the cracks she finds in the story, to a degree. Who was James Cogan and what was this Colorado businessman doing in Maine, especially dead. King leaves the reader wondering as they seek to piece things together in this novella. Brilliant in its delivery and perfect for those who want a few hours to get the brain juices flowing. Recommended to novella fans, especially those who enjoy reading King’s less violent pieces.

Stephen King knows how to write a captivating story, inserting twists few would likely predict. This novella had all the impact of a well-crafted piece, mixing mystery and narrative backstory in equal measure. King uses three loose protagonists in the piece—the journalists—who push the narrative along, with James Cogan acting as a decent, but distant, central figure. His presence in Maine remains a mystery, though the clues that come up during the discussion leave everyone trying to find an answer to this mystery. King develops some decent characters, with little known about this, though that might have been the point. The story was grounded and kept me wanting to learn a little more, though there were numerous threats left dangling. With short chapters and decent momentum, King fans may enjoy this one, full of tangential commentary on the smallest of details. While this was only a filler piece, I have always loved the full-length King novels, one of which awaits me in the near future. A great short piece without the gore or intense chills that some might find in King’s cornerstone pieces.

Kudos, Mr. King, for a nice novella that helped pass the time as my busy weekend progresses.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King

Eight stars

Seeking a filler before tackling more of my TBR pile, I turned to Stephen King for one of his shorter novels. I chose well, taken into the backwoods of the Appalachian Trail and a harrowing tale of a young girl. While out on a ‘forced hike’ with her mom and brother, Trisha McFarland strays from the path and finds herself lost. What starts out as an adventure of sorts soon turns nerve-racking and eventually into a terrible ordeal. Armed with only the lunch she packed for the hike and a few supplies, Trisha is left alone in the woods. Thankfully, she has her Walkman, allowing her to tune in and listen to the reports of her disappearance, as well as catch a few innings of her beloved Boston Red Sox, with dreamy relief pitcher, Tom Gordon. As the story progresses, King offers up views not only from Trisha’s perspective, but also her panicked family, pushing the narrative into moments of intensity. With only the sound of the game to ground her, Trisha cheers on her team and dreams of encounters with Tom Gordon to keep her relaxed. With help surely on the way, Trisha will have to navigate through the woods in hopes of hearing someone calling out for her, or die with Tom Gordon and his pitching heroics on her mind. A wonderful stroll through the less graphic side of King’s mind, this story is both engaging and highly entertaining. Recommended to those who love King’s creativity, as well as the reader who wants something to bide their time.

I have always said that Stephen King knows how to write a wonderful tale, while inserting twists I would not predict along the way. This story was no different, though offered some uniqueness that I have come to expect. The story moved along well, divided into ‘innings’ as the reader progresses through this larger game. Trisha McFarland proves to be a wonderfully entertaining protagonist, taking the reader into her young mind and all that passes through it while she tries not to panic. Much is revealed about her, particularly the struggles she has with her parents’ divorce and how she is trying to come to terms with it. The reader learns much of her backstory and some development here and there, which is essential to tie into the larger narrative. King is able to use others to help advance the plot as well, with vignettes focussed on the other family members as they worry, or flashbacks to events that define them. The plot was sound, as many are in a King story, though not always what I might have expected. King is always able to extrapolate on an easy idea and proves a master of his craft, helping to shape an already strong narrative. While only a filler for me, I did not feel the need to rush, as the story clipped along at a wonderful pace. I love a good King story and there are so many, I won’t ever run out!

Kudos, Mr. King, for another winner. I have your latest book to tackle soon, but this was a wonderful appetizer to tide me over until then.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Pet Sematary, by Stephen King

Eight stars

It is always an exciting adventure to read some of Stephen King’s horror-themed works, as they tap into some of his darker side and fill the narrative with wonderfully tangential material. Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job in a Maine town, uprooting his family from their Chicago home. As the Creeds arrive in town, they soon realise that there is more to the house than meets the eye. After meeting the neighbour, Judson ‘Jud’ Crandall, the family agrees to allow him to give them a lay of the land. Jud has lived in his house all his life, upwards of eighty years, so he is well-versed about all the local lore. While warning the family of the dangers of the local highway at the end of their property, he speaks of the local cemetery that many of the children have been using for their pets, hidden up amongst the forested area. Dubbed the ‘Pet Sematary’, this burial ground has many a non-human member of families as far back as can be imagined, with grave markers etched by innocent hands. However, there is something about the area that cannot be properly explained. When Louis heads off to work at the university infirmary, he encounters a young man who has devastating injuries and blames the ‘sematary’, though Louis is sure there is more to the story he is not being told. When the Creeds, sans Louis, head back to Illinois for Thanksgiving, the patriarch holds down the fort with the family cat. Over the holiday, devastating news comes of the cat’s demise, having been hit by a truck. This forces Louis and Jud to make their way to the sematary to lay the feline to rest. When the cat reappears, inexplicably, a few days later, Louis is sure it has something to do with the sematary. Jud admits that there is something to the mystery, as pets seem to resurrect themselves and return to their masters with no logical explanation. Refusing to share anything about the cat’s death, particularly since it has returned, Louis and the family continue living their peaceful life. When an accident sees the young boy die on the aforementioned road, the Creeds are paralysed by grief. Louis cannot wrap his head around it and turns to his wife, who is completely out of commission. Knowing the powers of the pet sematary, Louis must decide if he can risk moving his son’s body from its final resting place to the sematary, knowing that this could rejuvenate the clouds of depression that have started rolling in. Still, there is the x-factor of the unknown, which could trump any goodness that might return. Louis stands at a crossroads, wondering what to do, while keeping the secret of the pet sematary. Bone-chilling in its plot development, Stephen King shows that he is the master of his genre and can pull readers in with his well-paced narrative. Recommended to those who love a good story of thrills and dark plots.

With the recent movie re-release of this classic Stephen King novel, I thought it would be best to try this book before deciding about the big screen. While I was never one who read King in my youth, I have discovered just how addictive his novels can be, given the time to enjoy them. King has a way with developing complex storylines and intricate characters in parallel, enriching the reading experience for those with the patience to wade through his longer novels. Louis Creed is a wonderful protagonist, who has seen a great deal in his life. When he meets Jud Crandall, Louis finally understands what it means to have a great father figure as well as a loyal friend. While Louis is unease about the move to Maine from the early days, he discovers the nuances of the community and the dark secrets about this pet sematary. Offering the reader some insight into the struggles of his family politics, Louis serves as a wonderful guide on this monumental journey. Jud Crandall is one of many great supporting characters, serving as the community’s backbone and lore teller, which serves Louis well, while also leaving him worries about what he might have done by accepting work in Maine. King’s use of a large number of characters serves to enrich the story and offers complex development at every turn. Characters develop throughout and their lives mix effectively, serving to entertain the reader, as King is prone to do. As with many of King’s novels, the story twists and turns, meandering from one topic to the next. While this may be a criticism when lobbed at some authors, King is able to entertain the reader along the way, keeping them transfixed along the journey. I find that the plot develops on its own, inching forward at a pace the reader might not notice at first glance. It is, however, this journey that makes the reading experience all the better for the attentive reader. With regular mention of small things from past (and future) novels, King masterfully weaves his tale while offering nuggets of a deeper social commentary, this time about death and the loss of a loved one. Those who have the patience for such a novel will surely find much in these pages. As with most novel/movie-tv series adaptations, I would recommend reading the book before turning to either version of the cinematic experience.

Kudos, Mr. King, for reminding me just how much I like reading your work. Enthralling until the very end.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Flight or Fright, edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent

Nine stars

There is a certain majestic nature to being far above the clouds, crossing the country or an ocean while receiving small bags of snacks and watered-down drinks. Air travel has long been the go-to means of getting from one place to another, especially with the ongoing technological advancements for the general public. However, Stephen King and Bev Vincent seek to dispel this bucolic myth with their collection of short stories about flying, all of which explore levels of fear or evil when it comes to being in the air. The collection of seventeen pieces keeps the reader enthralled, with stories from many authors who penned their works at different times during the progress of flight over the past century. From stories about cargo trips back from Jonestown, to ever-elusive gremlins on the wing, through to pieces about a nuclear war commencing during the middle of a continental flight and even the joys of having an airplane before a crime scene during an in-flight murder, King and Vincent seek to spook the reader just a little as they learn about the many ways in which flight could be anything but safe. With wonderfully gripping pieces, some as short as a single paragraph, the editors offer a jam-packed adventure that would put any security scanning line to shame when it comes to horrific experiences. A great anthology that will keep many a reader wanting to plant their feet on terra firms for the foreseeable future. Highly recommended for those who enjoy short stories that differ greatly from one another and those who are not put off by some of the predictable disasters that could await any airline passenger.

Having long been a fan of Stephen King—and an avid flier—I was eager to get my hands on this piece to see the sorts of authors and stories that were gathered to create this nightmarish collection. Not only are the pieces entirely unique from one another, but they span the entirety of the flight experience. Some authors penned their stories not long after the Wright Brothers made their brief sojourn into the air while others tackle topics of a Cold War era or even when travel was as sleek as could be imagined. This great cross-section of writing enriches the collection even more, though there is a theme of fear within each piece. As the editors offer a brief synopsis of the piece to come, the reader is able to place it into context and can—should they wish—notice the chronological and technological progresses made in air travel. As the reader is introduced to scores of characters in a variety of settings, they can relate to as many as they like while endeavouring not to scare themselves with vivid imaginings of what could go wrong. The choice of stories was wonderful, as was the varied lengths of the pieces on offer. However, perhaps I should not have read this days before I would board a plane. Now then, which button was actually used to bring down the plane and not summon assistance for additional pretzels?

Kudos, Messrs. King and Vincent, for this captivating collection. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope you’ll continue to collaborate again soon.

This book fulfils Topic #1:Collecting Words in the Equinox #6 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Body, by Stephen King

Eight stars

Stephen King’s wonderful 1982 novella, which was transformed into the classic 1986 film, Stand By Me, four young boys to come of age over a weekend together. Set in 1960, the story takes place in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine, where twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends are ready to set out to substantiate the rumours that the body of a missing boy has turned up near the next town. As the boys to begin their summer trek, they must come together to face winding train tracks, a brief dip in an interesting water hole, and a great deal of self-discovery. In a story that seeks to explore the innermost thoughts and feelings of these four, the reader can see that emotions run deep and that the ‘tough guy’ exteriors are only a pre-teen facade. King pulls the reader in from the outset in this well-paced piece, which shows just how amazing youth can be, when tempered with a little sobering maturity. Recommended for those who like King and his various writing styles. No need to be wary, for there is little gore, but enough language that some readers may want to look elsewhere.

I always enjoy Stephen King pieces, as they keep me wondering where things will go in his circuitous writing style. There was a strict ban on my reading his novels when I was younger, for reasons I am not entirely sure I remember. My adult years have been spent catching up and I have come to see that King can be a little intense, but he has a great deal I thoroughly enjoy. King offers up a lighter novella here, allowing his characters to develop nicely without the excessive gore. Gordie Lachance is both the presumptive protagonist and the ‘author’ of this story, a flashback piece penned when he was much older. Lachance explores some of the sentiments of his own childhood, as well as honing his skills as a writer. Gordie offers up much development as it relates to his friends, giving the reader a more comprehensive approach to those who populate the story. Through a series of events that weave together into the larger story, King allows his characters to mature through their learning experiences. Keeping the reader engaged throughout this quick read, King shows just how strong his writing can be, close to four decades later.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another wonderful piece of writing. I am happy to have stumbled upon this one and will admit that I have not seen Stand By Me in its entirety, which will soon change.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Laurie: A Short Story, by Stephen King

Eight stars

An unexpected added short story to a recently released novella by Stephen King. Quite an interesting tale that mixes some unique character development with King’s trademark gory depictions at some points. A recent widower, Lloyd welcomes his sister’s visit to Florida. However, it would seem that this is more than a simple visit, but a family attempt to help a depressed older man. Lloyd is introduced to a puppy that is being left for him, something that might help distract from his recently departed wife. Lloyd hesitates and struggles to housetrain the little ball of fur, but Laurie soon creates a canine bond with her master. They find their niche and undertake a basic routine, including walks around the neighbourhood. When their walk takes them by a body of water, things go sour, forcing Lloyd and Laurie to take matters into their own hands. What might have started out as an awkward relationship soon develops into something that warms the heart. A nice filler that fans of Stephen King will likely find just up their alley.

While not everyone can admit to liking Stephen King or his work, I have come to find much of his work quite entertaining for its unique approach to the every day. In this short piece, King has little time to develop his characters, though does well with painting Lloyd as a man who pines for his departed wife but who does not want help with his sorrow. He has been losing weight and surely could use some companionship, but refuses to admit it to a doting sister. When introduced to Laurie, Lloyd pushes back, but soon has little choice but to act as master, sucking up all his resentments. From there, it’s all about the slow and ongoing connection between man and his dog. They come together with ease, even if it is somewhat jagged at the start. Lloyd comes to accept his fate and seems to embrace it, given time and his set of rules. The story was well written and kept my interest for the brief time it took to complete. King never ceases to amaze me, as he can grip my attention with long, drawn-out novels just as much as short stories that take only a cup of coffee to complete.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another great story that held my attention throughout. Even with a little gore, I can see many readers finding it to their liking.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Elevation, by Stephen King

Seven stars

It is always nice to turn one’s attention to a piece by Stephen King, where reality can sometimes take a backseat to entertainment. Some bemoan this, though is fiction not supposed to be a chance to suspend beliefs, if only for a short time? Scott Carey appears to be a robust man. When he calls upon an old friend whose medical practice closed a number of years before, Scott admits that he has quite the problem. While his appetite is voracious, he keeps losing weight. An additional concern is that he weighs the same fully dressed as he does in his skivvies. Astonished, this friend seeks to do some research and asks Scott to keep an eye on things. Going about his business, Scott learn that his neighbours, Deirdre and Missy, are being ostracised by the townsfolk of Castle Rock. A married, lesbian couple, Deirdre and Missy have faced ridicule and their local restaurant is on its last legs. When Scott seeks to speak out against the bigotry, he is silenced not only by those who toss epithets, but also by Deirdre herself, who wants to handle her own battles. While he continues to lose weight for some unknown reason, Scott enters the Castle Rock Turkey Trot, in hopes of staying in shape, for what it’s worth. Deirdre, a competitive runner in her younger days, is right there beside him. When something goes awry during the race, Scott and Deirdre are forced to come together, working as a team. This connection could serve to help others see a different side to them both. All the while, the scale is a slow reminder that Scott’s days are numbered, as his weight dwindles. Fairly soon, there will be nothing left but the indelible mark of his friendship on a few souls. An interesting piece, better labelled a novella, by King. One never knows what to expect when the King of Horror (pun intended) releases a new bit of writing.

Some see ‘Stephen King’ and run the other way, either because of his macabre offerings from decades past or that he is simply too ‘off the wall’. I tend to turn towards him for these reasons, as the reader can never be entirely sure what to expect. King shapes the Scott Carey plight in such a way that it is less horrific and more a medical anomaly. It is a hurdle that Scott must overcome or at least face to the best of his abilities. While there is little backstory offered here, the reader learns some of the lead-up to Scott’s visit to a medical professional before exploring the character development throughout this ‘illness’. I can only guess some of the inner turmoil such a confusion prognosis would create, though King does a nice job of exploring this throughout the piece. As time progresses, Scott must come to terms with whatever is going on, forcing those around him to swallow the same pill. There is little that can be done, though no one is as accepting of it as Scott himself. The other characters in the piece, particularly Missy and Deirdre, offer some interesting insight into 21st century tolerance, particularly in small towns, when it comes to bigotry. While King does not bemoan the point, there will be some who cannot see anything wrong with ostracising others for their personal choices, which speaks of a larger issue best left dormant here. The story was decent and the narrative flowed well, though I would not call this a stellar piece. King certainly offers up some inspiration where it is due, though I am not going to pound my drum and recommend that every reader rush to purchase the piece. It’s a nice bridge between two books for those who want something a little different.

Kudos, Mr. King, for a unique story that keeps the reader involved throughout. Well done and I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for your fans in the coming year!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Outsider, by Stephen King

Nine stars

Stephen King has done it again with a powerful story that pulls the reader into the middle and will not let them go. Mixing his ability to write mysteries with a long-established foundation for the supernatural, this novel will impress the dedicated reader ready for an adventure like no other. When a boy’s body is discovered, murdered and sexually assaulted, many of the witnesses and evidence point to Terry Maitland. The town’s baseball coach, Maitland was described by many to be the salt of the earth, though Detective Ralph Anderson cannot discount all the information that he has at his disposal. Wanting to make a show of Maitland’s arrest, Anderson seeks to have Maitland taken into custody during a high-profile baseball game, in front of much of the town. While Maitland professes his innocence, Anderson turns a deaf ear, sure that the forensics are irrefutable. A solid alibi exists for Maitland being a fair distance away, with equally persuasive alibi witnesses and physical evidence, though Anderson chooses not to give this much merit. How can a man be in two places at once and does DNA lie? Anderson and others around him seek to explain this, but things go horribly wrong during the arraignment and Maitland’s innocence is now a footnote to a larger issue. When the evidence is extrapolated by a guilty Anderson, who cannot rest until he knows the truth, all eyes turn to Dayton, Ohio, where Maitland spent some of his time with family. A call is placed to the Finders Keepers Detective Agency, where one Holly Gibney is now running the show. Gibney, eccentric as ever, is curious and agrees to take the case, poking around and asking the right questions. She soon discovers that there is more to Terry Maitland than meets the eye and the case is blown wide open. What follows is a series of events that turns the small town of Flint City into the centre of a larger and more disturbing mystery, with ties to a piece of Mexican folklore. Is there a way to be in two places at once? Who is the mysterious man that appears in the dreams of many around town, making threats of violence? King offers up answers to these and many others in his latest piece of stunning fiction. Those who can stomach Stephen King will surely love this book, though his trademark meandering might turn the less than prepared off reading this stellar novel!

I will be the first to admit that it takes a certain kind of reader to enjoy Stephen King. His masterful ability to tell a story is surrounded by layers of tangential writing and minor characters seeking their time in the spotlight. However, if one can handle this sort of storytelling, there is a core tale that is almost addictive and one cannot walk away without being impacted. King does a masterful job here, focussing his attention on many people throughout the piece. Terry Maitland receives strong character development throughout the early portion of the novel, his life dragged through the mud as the accusations against him pile high. He seeks to clear his name, though the evidence appears to make this close to impossible. Ralph Anderson and Holly Gibney, though not the only others who share a significant amount of the spotlight, are two that will not soon be forgotten by readers. Anderson is the police official seeking justice over all else and not wanting to let his gaffes hang too long around him. Those who have read some of King’s recent material will know Gibney to be a central character in his Mr. Mercedes trilogy, where her unique style seems to have made its mark. Gibney divorces herself from the socially acceptable world and tells things as she sees them, no matter the consequences. Scores of other characters dot the narrative and push it forward, keeping the reader enthralled and wanting more, their characteristics sometimes a flash in the pan, but always appreciated. The story itself is complex and entertaining, full of King’s strong research and curious tangential commentary on life. What appears to be the thread the narrative will follow is soon abandoned for a different pathway, but one the reader can enjoy without too many mental gymnastics. I understand how many may not have liked this piece or found it too… odd for their liking. I know all too well that King can be difficult to digest and it takes a certain type of reader to understand him. That being said, I cannot praise this recent piece enough and await the next novel to see what else he has in store.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another winner. While I have been critical of some work you produce, you always keep me guessing and wondering what you have in mind when I crack open another of your pieces of writing.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons