The Troop, by Nick Cutter

The Troop. Image source: GoodreadsThe story of five boys stranded on an island with a killer infection, The Troop is a horror novel with a lot of guts, but little heart.

Here is a book whose success could arguably be traced to a single Stephen King quote – “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best”. This line takes pride of place on the front cover of the book, features on the author’s website, the publisher’s website, Goodreads, Amazon…in fact pretty much anywhere The Troop is sold or promoted. It’s not surprising. Such glowing praise from the most bankable author in the world is guaranteed to increase sales. But it does bring into focus the age-old connection between expectation and disappointment. Continue reading “The Troop, by Nick Cutter”

The Fireman, by Joe Hill

the-fireman-sff-worldA nightmare vision of a world in flames – The Fireman is Joe Hill’s best book to date.

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. Reviewers who acknowledge this also tend to lament the fact that they should mention it at all, because he is clearly an accomplished author in his own right. That he has achieved popular and critical success is due to hard work and talent. Having eschewed his famous name he succeeded on his own terms. Referring to this point, The New York Times claims “He deserves not to have it mentioned in reviews of his books anymore, so look up his pedigree if you really need to.” Continue reading “The Fireman, by Joe Hill”

Review Roundup – Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers, by Stephen King

A masterful, intensely suspenseful novel about a reader whose obsession with a reclusive writer goes far too far—a book about the power of storytelling, starring the same trio of unlikely and winning heroes King introduced in Mr. Mercedes.

“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever. (Simon & Schuster)




The Guardian

“Which brings us back to the theme of writers. Morris wants to read Rothstein’s unpublished work in order to discover that the book he disliked was an aberration. Morris may not have developed, but writers do; and we have to go with them, to see where they’ll take us. That’s the greatest joy of this book: watching as King still makes it all seem so effortless, and 55 novels in, manages to thrill with every page.”

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The New York Times

“He played it pretty straight in “Mr. Mercedes,” which just won the Edgar Award for best novel of 2014 from the Mystery Writers of America. Now he’s toying with the form, batting it back and forth to see if it’s still alive.”

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Finders KeepersThe Seattle Times

“Stephen King’s new nail-biter “Finders Keepers,” the sequel to “Mr. Mercedes,” spins a suspenseful tale around an unpublished novel by a popular author that resurfaces decades later.”

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AV Club

“Stephen King has made a long career out of stories about authors and their problems—the common ones, like writer’s block and the struggle for critical success, and the less-common ones, like evil twins and ghostly possession. But not since 1987’s Misery has he dealt as closely with the psychotic fan as he does in his new novel, Finders Keepers. Misery is one of King’s best novels: It’s tense and breathless almost from the opening chapters, and its scenario about a novelist taken captive by a crazed superfan who demands he write to her specifications is clearly written from the heart. Finders Keepers is more removed and less intense, the work of a considerably older and more thoughtful man.”

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USA Today

“King’s had his share of diehard fanatics over the years, but the new book is so good, being at least mildly obsessed with it is understandable. The finest thing about it, however, is that the author has another story to tell before the finale of this excellent series.”

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Portland Press Herald

“Prolific and personable King seems to be the complete antithesis of the reclusive, withholding John Rothstein. That’s something for which his legions of adoring fans can be extremely thankful, as they await the wrap-up to this intriguing trilogy of hard-boiled thrillers.”

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Miami Herald

“That sense of contemporary despair — the constant struggle that so many wage daily in order to simply survive, and the sense of hope that follows when you get a glimpse of the end of the tunnel — is what gives Finders Keepers its substance and makes it meatier than, say, Under the Dome, which was a terrific read but also kind of ridiculous. This is not to imply that King has gone all Cheever : The book is, first and foremost, a thrilling, taut read.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“But such qualms are overcome by the plainspoken, deceptively simple King style, which has once again fashioned a rip-snorting entertainment; one that also works as a sneaky-smart satire of literary criticism and how even the most attentive readers can often miss the whole point behind making up characters and situations.

Reading a King novel as engrossing as this is a little like backing in a car with parking assist: after a while, you just take your hands off the wheel and the pages practically turn themselves.”

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The Washington Post

“Stephen King’s superb new stay-up-all-night thriller, Finders Keepers, is a sly, often poignant tale of literary obsession that recalls the themes of his classic 1987 novel  Misery.”

“Finders Keepers — the second in a planned trilogy — may be a twisted love story, but it’s also a love letter to the joys of reading and to American literature. Rothstein’s books evoke Updike’s Rabbit novels, as well as works by J.D. Salinger, John Cheever and Richard Yates.”

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