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Stephen King

From a Buick 8 * Stephen King Book Review

From a Buick 8 is a novel about our fascination with deadly things, about our insistence on answers when there are none, about terror and courage in the face of the unknowable.”

This is another one of the dull and long-winded Stephen King books. “Desperation” was like this, “Insomnia” was like this and it has a lot in common with “Christine“. It’s a story about a car in a police unit’s garage. A story how a car that looks like a Buick 8 has been impounded from a petrol station after its owner abandoned it and then strange and spooky things began to happen around it. Like “Christine”.
But this car had no owner that it could be jealous of. This car just kept the air around it cool and occasionally acted like an inter-dimensional gateway to a place where monsters roamed.
And at the end of the book, it briefly attempts to kidnap some policemen and fails. Then it starts to slowly shatter as a door that has been banged too hard shut and the car itself starts to lose its regenerative abilities. The book ends with the possibility of the car failing to be a door anymore and letting the mnsters through.

The narrative style is very similar to “The Wind Through The Keyhole” and “Colorado Kid” where the story is told not by the author but by one of the characters – in this case the town sherriff, Sandy.
He tells the story to the new recruit, the son of a cop who died recently and very much loved by the force he joined.

The book is boring. Perhaps it has something to do with the way the narrative is told- all in flashback; but what we stay with is the initial situation- weird car- and it doesn’t develop into anything like a plot.

“Law enforcement: a case of good men doing bad chores.”

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Book Reviews

Dolan’s Cadillac * Stephen King

They say revenge is a dish best served cold and this has never been truer than in Stephen King’s short story “Dolan’s cadillac”. Stephen King’s unparalleled imagination is in full force in this collection of four unabridged short stories originally found in the classic, “Nightmares & Dreamscapes“.

Wealthy crime-boss Jimmy Dolan brutally murders a woman who is scheduled to testify against him, and her husband spends the next seven years plotting his revenge. Haunted by the voice of his dead wife, he will stop at nothing to exact his vengeance and allow his wife to rest in peace.

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His only shot at success is when “Dolan” is being driven across the country in his cadillac and it is on the road, laying the most incredible trap, that he makes his move. The personal pain and struggle our protagonist must endure in order to give his plan the best chance of success is grueling and torturous….but well worth it.

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The initially unnamed protagonist, whom we eventually learn is called Robinson, is a schoolteacher from Las Vegas. He is pale and weak and balding. He is the type that people laugh of not laugh with as he himself points it out – but he has a strong soul and a desire to avenge his wife. So he volunteer to work in RoadWorks and learns all there is to know about paving and the detours system. Under the guise of writing a sci-fi book, he goes to a math teacher and asks him the best way to create a hole in the ground to trap a space ship filled with aliens who are trying to escape Earth who is going 50mph. He learns that just making a cubic hole in the ground is not enough, he needs to make it at an angle, like a funnel – to ensure that the aliens won’t come out through the doors and won’t be able to back out.

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Each month, he scans the upcoming roadwork calendar for just the right repaving job. After nearly two years, he eventually notices a 30-mile stretch of highway scheduled over the 4th of July weekend, and begins to make preparations to put his plan into action. His hole digging is determined and his wife’s voice that kept on urging it on becomes like a demon asking for revenge. She beckons him on even after his back gives way and he continues digging though mounds of earth even with a few slipped discs.

His awaited moment arrives and he manages to get the Cadillac into the hole he dug.

It was like the road just opened up and swallowed the car whole.

After only a few sentences, Dolan is incredibly able to identify his captor, and soon makes a proposal: one million dollars, and a personal guarantee of safety, if Robinson lets him out. Robinson’s counter-proposal is that, if Dolan screams loudly enough, he may be freed. Of course, this does not happen, and Robinson proceeds with the burial.

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You would say that even after a few weeks have passed he would have been relieved of having gotten rid of the bad guy, but Robinson is an anxious man. He goes to that stretch of the road to see his work and even tries to pee on it. But nothing comes out even though his bladder is full. And he keeps expecting to one day look in the rear view mirror and see Dolan’s decomposing corpse looking back at him.

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Book Reviews Stephen King

Christine * Stephen King Book Review

Oh, how I hated this book. You have probably seen the movie adaptation in the 80’s or if not, have seen the book in passing and know in general what it’s about.

Come on, big guy. Let’s go for a ride. Let’s cruise.

Feel like this book sorta goes off the rails once the ghost of the previous owner starts popping up. It’s so powerful in the beginning, when it’s a book about this loser kid finally connecting with something for the first time (this car he finds and begins to rebuild). When the focus is on how that newfound focus starts to change him, it feels real and true and both exhilarating and scary. But once the ghost of the old guy enters the picture, it stops being about the kid and the car, and becomes about something else… about some grumpy old dead guy who may or may not have been a changeling demon, or something, I don’t know. Wish the focus would’ve stayed on the car: a kid who’s haunted by a car.

Not a car that’s haunted by a dead guy.

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Book Reviews

Freeway Games * Orson Scott Card – Short Story Review

“Don’t worry, lady,” he said. “I’m not following you this time, just going my own sweet way home.”

Maps in a Mirror (1990) is a collection of short stories by American writer Orson Scott Card. Like Card’s novels, most of the stories have a science fiction or fantasy theme. This specific short story drew my attention as I was driving and listening – a story about a maniacal driver who pushes the pedal to the metal and follows his victims to their deaths. What would you do if you had a person tailgating you, hounding you for 80 miles or more, swerving through traffic? I would have pulled over in the nearest police station. I would have tapped my breaks to let him know to back off. I probably would have looked for help in a gas station.
These women (as all of his victims have been women), did not choose to do so and found themselves in danger.

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Book Reviews

Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 Book Review

coverNOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns. I was surprised to see Stephen King’s son writing again and more surprised to see that he has learned a few tricks from his dad that made this book a complete success.

This is the story of a mother fighting a monster to save her son. This is a story of people being able to travel to make-believe lands much like Lisey was able to travel, much like the Territories, much like the Dark Tower doors.
Joe Hill has described this 700+ page book as “my senior PhD thesis on horror”, about a very bad 140 year old man who kidnaps children and takes them to a terrible place called Christmasland. This is an accurate surface description, but doesn’t even come close to describing what this book is really about: the truest kind of love, which can come from even the most flawed human beings.

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Dean Koontz

Strange Highways

Short collection of novels published in 1995
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Released in May 1995, Strange Highways is a short collection of 12 stories, all showing how an apparently good human can actually be a murderer. Each story has a twist and each story is filled with suspense as well as a longing for something better.
The novels included in this book are:

  • “Strange Highways” (novel): a failed author returns to his hometown after many years to attend his father’s funeral, only to find himself suddenly and inexplicably thrust back through time to relive a traumatic event from his past. His successful brother was actually a cold blooded killer and he knew about it and chose to igore it as not to bring any pain to his old parents. After the funeral is over, on the road back home, he is faced with a fork in the road that was not there before. It was the same fork he had seen years ago when he chose to ignore it and continue his life. Now he walks on the old road not chosen before and finds himself thrust back into time when he was just in high school and his brother had only started his killing spree. He saves the girl and stops the monster and ends up having a beautiful happy end. The story is good in many levels but the best message that comes across is: Never try to walk away from going the good in face of evil. It will destroy you and the ones you love.
  • “The Black Pumpkin”: a twelve year old boy tries to stop his cruel brother from buying a black pumpkin from a creepy pumpkin carver. He buys the pumpkin anyway, and later that night gets what he deserves. The story is about innocence and retribution. The pumpkin spares his life because the boy had done nothing wrong, just endured the abuse of his older brother and the neglect of his parents.
  • “Miss Attila the Hun” – a story about a school teacher who is loved by her husband and kids alike. An alien seed is growing in the forest ouside town and once it catches a hunter, it begins to expand and dominate more minds. Playing with people as a favourite past time, the seed collects more and more bodies until he reaches the class of Miss Attila the Hun. There, the alien learns that Love is more powerful than dominance and finds that the hosts he had chosen refuse to kill the people they love most. Sad end for the seed.
  • “Down in the Darkness”: after a couple buys a new house, the husband discovers a mysterious door that leads to a dark cellar. The cellar is endlessly going in the earth and the further he descends, the more voices he keeps hearing, whispering voices asking, inquiring. When he finds out that the previous owner of the house was the master of torture from when he was a war prisoner, he leads him into the cellar and leaves him there for the unknown monsters to take him. Being a good man at start, he starts seeing endless possibilities in the dark evil cell and he starts making a list of people he wants to get rid of. The novel ends with the chilling line: “He never thought the list would be this big”.
  • “Ollie’s Hands”: a young man with extraordinary psychic abilities and his tragic attempt to pursue a relationship with a woman whose life he saves. Sad story indeed. Driven to the homeless life, he avoided contact with people because his abilities, be they godly, they alienated him from people who feared him. When he saves this woman, he clears her mind from addiction, loneliness and starts building a close relationship with her until one day, she realizes that he is in her mind. She becomes frightened of him and wants to leave. Sadly, he erases all memory of him and lets her return to her normal life. So lonely, so lovely. Forever alone.
  • “Snatcher”: a purse snatcher steals a purse from a strange old woman, only to find that he’s made a terrible mistake. The purse hides a monster that eats him.
  • “Trapped”: a woman and her son trying to fend off an attack by giant, mutated rats.
  • “Bruno”: a private eye and a “probability cop” from another dimension hunt down a dangerous alien.
  • “We Three”: three siblings with special powers eliminate the rest of mankind, thinking that they’re the “new race”, but soon one of them is pregnant with a creature even more powerful who just might eliminate them.
  • “Hardshell”: a wounded cop stalks a killer through an abandoned warehouse, but there’s more to this seemingly stereotypical situation than meets the eye.
  • “Kittens”: the first short story Koontz ever sold. A girl learns the truth about God “taking her kittens to Heaven”, and she decides to get even.
  • “The Night of the Storm”: a group of intelligent robots go on a hunting trip in the woods, where they learn that the myth of “human beings” may not be a myth after all.
  • “Twilight of the Dawn”: a devout atheist who finds his lack of faith challenged in the wake of his son’s painful death from cancer.
  • “Chase” (novella)

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Dean Koontz

Born: 9-Jul-1945
When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages. He has sold 400,000,000 copies, a figure that currently increases by more than 17 million copies per year.
Twelve of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, and Relentless), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Fourteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.
The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”
Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.
Dean Koontz lives with his wife, Gerda in southern California.