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Acclaimed horror/thriller author King's latest release (after Blockade Billy and Under the Dome) is another collection of satisfying short stories. As with his other collections (Four Past Midnight and Everything's Eventual), this volume features four never-before-published novellas focusing on the theme of retribution, justice, and getting even. Offering fast reads, three tales run around 100 pages ("1922," "Big Driver," and "A Good Marriage"), while one story ("Fair Extension") weighs in at fewer than 50 pages. While not as subtle as some of King's other fiction, these novellas offer dark humor and to-the-point gore. VERDICT This quick and more brutal King installment will be in high demand for horror/thriller readers and dedicated King fans. Public libraries, order multiple copies. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/10.]-Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Medical Lib., Macon, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Eerie twists of fate drive the four longish stories in King's first collection since Just After Sunset (2008). In "1922," a farmer murders his wife to retain the family land she hopes to sell, then watches his life unravel hideously as the consequences of the killing suggest a near-supernatural revenge. "Big Driver" tells of an otherwise ordinary woman who discovers her extraordinary capacity for retribution after she is raped and left for dead. "A Good Marriage" explores the aftermath of a wife's discovery of her milquetoast husband's sinister secret life, while "Fair Extension," the book's most disturbing story, follows the relationship between a man and the best friend on whom he preternaturally shifts all his bad luck and misfortune. As in Different Seasons (1982), King takes a mostly nonfantastic approach to grim themes. Now, as then, these tales show how a skilled storyteller with a good tale to tell can make unsettling fiction compulsively readable. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* King begins his afterword by stating, The stories in this book are harsh. The man ain't whistlin' Dixie. Returning to the novella possibly his brightest canvas King provides four raw looks at the limits of greed, revenge, and self-deception. The first, 1922, is an outright masterpiece and takes the form of the written confession of one Wilf James. Back in 1922, see, Wilf killed his wife to prevent her selling off part of the farm, but tossing her corpse down the well didn't exactly stop her. It's Poe meets Creepshow by way of Steinbeck and carries the bleak, nearly romantic doom of an old folk ballad about murderin' done wrong. A pair of the remaining tales feature female protagonists considering hiding others' crimes: Big Driver is a rape-revenge tale about a writer of cozy mysteries who ends up in the uncoziest of situations, while A Good Marriage stars a wife whose husband of 27 years turns out to be hiding an unimaginable secret. Though the shortest story by far, Fair Extension is no slouch, submitting for your approval one Mr. Elvid (get it?), who is out to shine a little light on our blackest urges. Rarely has King gone this dark, but to say there are no stars here is crazy. High-Demand Backstory: King has gone on record saying he believesthat American readers should pay more attention to the virtues of short fiction; and if anyone can get reluctant short-story and novella readers into the swing, he certainly can with this book.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist