Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (431 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

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.

Imagine being a writer who decides to step down at the top of his or her game. Now imagine knowing the characters have more to say, but you’re not sure it’s any good. Oh, and someone wants you dead…

So brings together one of my favorite threesomes–Bill Hodges, the hard-boiled former detective, Holly Gibney, a slightly off-kilter, bvut sweeet woman who is a genius at the computer and Jerome Robinson, the smart-as-heck teen who seems to know just how to work with Holly and Bill to get the job done.

I love Stephen King’s work. It’s some of my favorites to read. When I saw Finders Keepers was up for preorder, I put in my order. I’m glad I did. I devoured this book in one day–nearly in one sitting. The writing is tight, for King, and suspense-filled. I couldn’t put it down.

I felt like I was right there in the car with Bill, finding the Moleskins and money along with Pete and trying to unravel the mystery before time was up.

I won’t disclose too many details. The story is just that delicious and should be savored. There are plot twists all over the place and reading this was like spending time with old friends while working out a mystery.

If you’re in the mood for something dark and full of suspense, then pick up this gripping read.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Publisher: Gallery Books, Scribner
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (531 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

One word: gripping. Oh, and I will NEVER look at a caravan of RVs the same way ever again.

I really liked The Shining. I did. It scared the bejesus out of me.  Doctor Sleep follows Dan, the little boy from The Shining. He’s now all grown up and bearing scars of his own. He’s still got the shining, but with those adult experiences and situations, he’s a different kind of man. And he’s about to meet a girl who not only matches him, but outdoes him with the shining.

I love the work of Stephen King. But I go in with my eyes wide open. I know there will be sputters and potholes along the way. This book isn’t one of those sputters. The writing clicks along at a good pace and ensnared me in the story. When I had to put the book down, I didn’t want to. It’s that gripping.

Now, about those RVs. The True Knot, the people wanting to consume the steam created from the people with the shining, drive around all day in these RVs. No one notices them because, well, big hulking RVs are everywhere on the highway. I’m not sure if King was going for a parallel to danger being all over the place but hard to spot because we see it all the time, but if he was, kudos. Just that part alone got me thinking. Danger really is everywhere and in the most benign locations. Oh and watch out for the lady in the hat. Yikes.

I liked the characters of Abra and Dan. Honestly, I liked the little boy back in The Shining. But boy, did that kid go through some crap. Wow. I’m glad King returned to this character and let the readers see what he’s been up to. Dan Torrance, the redrum kid, is not Doctor Sleep. Along with a cat named Azzie, he works at a hospice facility (or as Abra calls it, the hot spice facility). When the patients are about to expire, the cat always knows and tells the staff. I loved this angle. Dan, then goes in and assists the patient. Now some might consider this a downer. It is, but I liked how King shows Dan’s softer side – now that he’s had the hard edges worn down.

Then there’s Abra. Yes, like Abracadabra. An interesting name for an interesting little girl. She’s got the shining, but on high voltage. She sees things though the eyes of others and can reach out to Dan through the chalk board. Sounds bizarre? It gets better. The True Knot want this girl. Like REALLY want her. I liked her. She’s spunky and quirky. She’s got a mind of her own and even though she’s still a kid, she’s smart. I wanted to see her come out on top.

Are you intrigued? You should be. The horrific parts of the book deliver. Definitely some seat-squirming. But there is a heart to this story and it’s one that shouldn’t be missed.

If you want a book that will haunt you, make you think, oh and make you want to keep the light on at night, then this might be the book for you. Recommended.

Revival by Stephen King

Revival by Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Recent Historical
Length: Full Length (403 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties — addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate — Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

Whatever’s behind that door…it’s holy hell.

Stephen King isn’t called the master of horror for nothing. His books are guaranteed to cause nightmares and to stick with the reader long after the last page. This book was no different.

I’ll admit. The beginning seemed slow. Really slow. I thought, there is no way this all works together. Why am I still getting these little tidbits of information? Hang in there, because it really does all go together.

Now all these little bits aren’t boring. I felt like I got to know Jamie Morton quite well. I could pretty much see the guy. I didn’t like him–not all the time, but I could see why he did what he did. The sweet little boy starts out just that. Sweet. It’s life and experiences in various bands that help to shape him and make him into a bit of a monster. He’s redeemable and that’s worth reading.

Then there’s Charles Jacobs. He’s a minister and seems to be quite good. But what he seems and who he is aren’t the same things. This guy…he brought a whole slew of emotions in me. I liked him, felt sorry for him, wanted to throttle him, then pitied him. He’s an interesting character. He’s full of surprises and ratchets up the fear factor by being someone you could know in real life.

There were times while reading this book that I wasn’t sure what would happen next. The term revival isn’t just for the title. Revival pertains to not only the religious situations, but also to life. Just when it seems like something can’t turn for the better, it does. It also turns for the worse. That’s what was so…scary good about this book. I never know what would happen and sure as heck didn’t see the ending coming. Wow.

If you want a book that will stay with you long after the last page with haunting characters and a plot that’s complex but interesting, then this is the book for you.  Recommended.

Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs

Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs
A Temperance Brennan Book
Publisher: Scribner Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (304 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

A newborn baby is found wedged in a vanity cabinet in a rundown apartment near Montreal.

Dr Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec, is brought in to investigate. While there, she discovers the mummified remains of two more babies within the same room.

Shocked and distressed, Tempe must use all her skills and inner strength to focus on the facts. But when the autopsies reveal that the children died of unnatural causes, the hunt for the mother – a young woman with a seedy past and at least three aliases – is on.

The trail leads Tempe to Yellowknife, a cold, desolate diamond-mining town on the edge of the Arctic Circle, where her quest for the truth only throws up more questions, more secrets, and more dead bodies.

Taking risks and working alone, Tempe refuses to give up until she has discovered why the babies died. But in such a hostile environment, can she avoid being the next victim?

When the body of a newborn is found stuffed under a bathroom vanity in a dingy Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec apartment, the call goes out to forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. As the Quebec police search the apartment, two more tiny bodies, mummified, are found hidden. With no sign of the mother, Brennan and detective Andrew Ryan are determined to track down the elusive mother and find justice for the little ones. When they travel to the town where she lived before Saint-Hyacinthe, yet another tiny body is found, and everyone is frantic to find the woman. When the trail leads to the Northlands of Canada, things start to get tangled with other crimes, all connected to the family of the mother. As people keep dying, Brennan becomes enmeshed in a fight for her life, as well ass stopping the murderers from stealing an innocent woman’s only faamily legacy. Add in an obnoxious ex lover or two, and things become sticky. Can Brennan find the mother before things get out of control? Can she stop the crooks from bilking everyone involved? Can she stay alive long enough to solve this latest case to the satisfaction of all concerned?

I want to say, I have been a big fan of Kathy Reichs and her Temperance Brennan books from the very first one. I have enjoyed watching as Temperance has grown, using her brains to get ahead, not caring for all the red tape and maneuvering so prevalent in police procedure. The glimpses into lab procedure and the historic desciptions of the Northern Diamond Rush are wonderful, and I was surprised to know that Canada is a large producer of diamonds. The research here is flawless and fascinating, and I was inspired to read more about it.

Temperance Brennan is her usual efficient and capable scientist here, but she is also a mother, and feels a bit of sympathy for these poor abandoned babies. And she is determined to track down the mother and bring her to justice for these four innocents lost too soon. One other thing about Brennan, is her ability to see past the surface, and as she learns more about the missing Annaliese (or Amy/Alma/Alice), she discovers a simple girl, unable to understand life, and scared for her life.

There are the usual cast of supporting characters here, if not present, then at least mentioned throughout: Brennan’s ex-husband Pete, her daughter Katy, who throws Brennan a real curve ball of a surprise, and the staff at Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de medecine legale in Montreal, Brennan’s Canadian base. Add in two former lovers, Andrew Ryan and Oliver ‘Ollie’ Hasty of the Edmonton police, a man from Brennan’s days at Quantico, and the atmoshere gets tense at times. But in spite of her past with these two, Brennan is all buiness here, as she gets caught up in the chase to catch the killer or killers before they catch up to her.

All in all, this book kept me up reading long after I should have been sleeping, with edge of my seat danger and tangled webs of deceit around every corner. Kathy Reichs once again proves why I have followed Temperance Brennan on her adventures, and satisfies one more time.

Suzy’s Case by Andy Siegel

Suzy’s Case by Andy Siegel
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, contemporary
Length: Full length (356 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

A dogged and ingenious seeker after justice, New York attorney Tug Wyler is, at the same time, very much a law unto himself. A street-smart idealist and a born cut-up, he thinks on his feet in always unpredictable ways. Given the highly competitive nature of his specialty — a personal injury practice being no game for sissies — it’s worth it to him to grab the chance when a potentially lucrative edge comes along.

Enter Henry Benson, a high-profile criminal lawyer, with a file case of unsavory clients in need of just the sort of representation at which Tug excels. Clearly, it’s a pact with the devil, but when it comes to pitting his own comfort zone against a challenge, Tug’s an incorrigible risk-taker.

When Benson first hands off to him the case of the severely brain-damaged child Suzy Williams — whose mother has been pursuing restitution for her daughter for six long years against a resistant hospital’s defense team of lawyers — the actual criminal connection involved isn’t immediately clear. And what Benson seems to want from Tug is to shut it down. The verbal report to Tug, from Benson is there is no case — get us out of it gracefully.

Yet, once Tug meets the massively disabled but gallant little Suzy and June, her beautiful and resourceful mom, all bets are off. Then, without any warning and completely mysteriously, his soon passionate commitment to their cause thrusts him into a surreal sideshow of danger and violence.

Written in a quick, conversational style, Suzy’s Case is engaging and unpredictable. The main character, Tug Wyler, is an attorney – but hardly your garden variety type. In Suzy’s Case he hastily reveals himself as a quick-witted off-beat investigator. If anyone calls Wyler ‘Mr. Sensitivity’ you can be sure they are being sarcastic. He does – once in a while – let on that he can be a touch soft-hearted, but in the main he’s tough, sarcastic and politically incorrect. Ok, possibly he has a right to be – we find him going from worrying over a client’s injuries to (in rather macabre yet resigned fashion) planning a funeral for the as-yet living.

Repeat: Suzy’s Case is unpredictable.

Admittedly, I found the verb tenses/lack of harmony distracting- as well as some seriously long sentences. Style not incorrect but occasionally annoying. Mr. Siegel tests out things like making a list (literally, 1. 2. 3.) of items the main character is thinking and then also attempting to show a discussion via computer, using a different font. Although it does rather fit the conversational tone, it is also simply disruptive to the flow of the story.

Events are unpredictable, conversations are combative, some situations are downright heartbreaking. There is something of the hard-boiled style here- yet there is more. Descriptions exist, yet contribute to the rapid forward pace. It is ultimately engaging and interesting, and though I wanted to dislike it, I sensed this book – like the main character – just doesn’t care what I think. And that is part of its charm.

If you grab this book, it will grab you back. More than worth the read.