The latest book by Stephen King.
Billy Summers is an ex-US Marine. He was a sniper and killed many people whilst on tours of duty in Iraq. On leaving the military he is recruited by a ‘handler’ who provides him with work as a hitman. But Billy will only kill ‘bad men’, people who in Billy’s eyes have done very bad things and probably deserve to die.
One day Billy gets a call from a known associate with a too big to miss offer of two million dollars to do a hit. The man is a ‘bad man’ and with the money Billy can finally retire and disappear using one of his already established aliases.
Up until this point the story is tight and believable, we hear how Billy moves to an area close to the intended hit, rents a house, has a cover story etc, and prepares for the hit.
But of course, something goes wrong, and the story then moves in a slightly different direction. It is a story of revenge now. As to be expected from King, the story is fast paced, the characters well drawn, a definite page turner. And this is a straight novel, no twisting reality, no supernatural just a story to be told and it is told well. Except for my comments in the spoiler part below.
Apart from that the book is a good story. Not one of his best but far from one of his worst.
I'm a die hard Stephen King fan and I've only ever started one of his books and decided that I didn't like it (The Gunslinger, part one of the Dark Tower series) and I've been reading him for a very long time. I have started a few that I decided were too horrific for me to read! That said I enjoy his horror fiction most but had to stop reading that as it was affecting my personality, or so my brother told me.
The Institute isn't horror fiction, not by my definition of an SK horror, but it's engaging anyway. It's about children who are kidnapped, their parents killed and the children locked in an institute where they are tortured and then used to kill, with their minds. When they are used up they die and are cremated. This, apparently, has been going on for some 50 years or more. One of the kids escapes and that leads to the climax of the book.
I enjoyed the book as far as it went but it felt very familiar so I may have read/seen something similar in the past. It's the only Stephen King book that I'm not keeping so although I enjoyed it, it's not a keeper - either that or I'm jaded.
Stephen King’s latest book is a novella of just 132 pages. Whilst I love his doorsteps, I often think he is at his best with shorter novels and short stories. Elevation is the tale of an ordinary man who has something extraordinary happen to him, as often is the case in King’s books. Scott starts to lose weight rapidly - the scales show a 2-3lb loss every day but his size and frame and importantly, his clothes don’t change. He realises that the loss isn’t going to slow down and the book is his reckoning with “zero day”.
Yes, I am a die hard King fan so I am always going to be a bit biased about his books, but this is truly a lovely story. I finished it on the train and I struggled to keep my emotions in check.
Stephen King gets a lot of stick and Stephen King fans bear a fair amount too but I am a happy-to-be fan. What I like about reading Stephen King is that you are guaranteed a story. Yes, one that the plot takes precedent to prose, but that's why we humans read and have a history of story-telling. But you are guaranteed a story. You are also guaranteed characters that you immediately 'get'. His characters are steeped in the ordinary, normalcy and therefore you buy it, allowing King to introduce the extraordinary which you automatically accept.
Revival is no different. The extraordinary in the ordinary. Jamie Morton is a small boy in the 60s. A new pastor comes to town and Jamie and Charles immediately strike up a friendship. One that will take them to old age, despite themselves. Charles has a hobby - he loves electricity. Think Tesla in a tunic. He plays with electricity and one day, cures Jamie's older brother using a sort of DIY electroshock therapy.
Then one day something horrific happens and Charles suffers a devastating blow that shakes his faith in God. When he delivers a rant at church, he is asked to leave and Jamie doesn't seem again until they are both older.
Cue a carnival and Jamie - ex-Rock star, junkie, washed up has been - sees and older Charles perform. He is now doing a strange electricity show where he 'cures' people with his magic rings. They come into contact again and Charles turns his curing power to Jamie's drug addiction and hooks him up with a job with a previous 'patient'.
But these people Charles cures - what becomes of them? What are the side effects of their cure? These are the questions that begin to haunt Jamie and he tries to get the answers. Ultimately Jamie finds himself in a situation of both wanting and hating Charles' power.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Spanning a long period, I felt immersed in the story and the characters at all times. Being a bit of a fan of Tesla, I especially liked the subject matter. I found the use of electricity being the 'horror' with the mad scientist who used to be a religious person, quite fascinating. Highly recommended.
A man drives a Mercedes into a people waiting in a job queue. As Mr King is wont to do, he introduces us to a couple of the soon-to-be bumper-fodder before he introduces the bumper of the Mercedes. A desperate man. A young mother with her baby.
Bill Hodges retired cop is haunted by this unsolved crime. He leads sedentary, junk food-filled daily existence until he receives a letter in the post from the killer laughing at Hodges' inability to catch him. Hodges ignores the claim but begins to put the case together. The owner of the stolen Mercedes, the murder weapon, dies some time after the crime was committed and Hodges doesn't think this is a coincidence. With his IT literate neighbour and the sister of the Mercedes owner, this little band of people flung together begin to chase a killer. Just as he chases them.
King has announces that this book is the beginning of a trilogy featuring Bill Hodges and I am really pleased to hear that. I enjoyed this very much - as a straightforward crime novel it is very good. King is always...well, king at drawing his characters and the extraordinary predicament they find themselves in.