The Shards of Heaven is not author Michael Livingston’s first work. In fact, he’s already a prolific award-wOriginally posted at FantasyLiterature.com
The Shards of Heaven is not author Michael Livingston’s first work. In fact, he’s already a prolific award-winning writer, though mostly focused in his world of academia. Livingston is a Professor of Medieval Literature at The Citadel in South Carolina. The Shards of Heaven is his first novel and he taps into his significant historical knowledge. He liberally expands his knowledge base with strong fantasy elements, though, not unlike George R.R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, it’s heavy on history-laden fiction and lighter on the fantasy… at least in this first offering of what’s expected to be a trilogy.
Impending war bubbles across the Roman Empire as Livingston’s story starts. Julius Caesar has been assassinated and after failed attempts at co-ruling the empire, Caesar’s general Marc Antony and his adopted son Octavian jockey for position, allies, and support within their strongholds in the east and west: Antony in Alexandria, Egypt, and Octavian in Rome.
Octavian comes into the knowledge and possession of a mighty weapon — the Trident of Neptune. Only Octavian’s adopted-step-brother Juba can even moderately control it, and while Octavian has designs to use it to secure his victory over Antony, Juba has his own eye on avenging his father’s defeat at the hands of Caesar 15 years earlier. The Trident has Force-like powers in its ability to boil a human’s blood or create a ship-crushing wave in the sea.
The Shards of Heaven is like an over-produced but undeniably delectable feast. (For the purposes of this metaphor, please note that these dishes are not necessarily served in the following order.)
The main course: Roman Empire historical fiction is the dish du jour, specifically focused on the years immediately following the assassination of Julius Caesar and what became a civil war between Octavian (the future Augustus) versus Marc Antony and his (and Caesar’s) lover Cleopatra. In Livingston’s novel, Octavian is bad, Antony is sort of good but mostly boring, and Cleopatra serves her traditional role of behind-the-scenes manipulator. Added to the fray is Juba, a Numidian prince who Caesar adopted following the victory over his father in 46 BCE. Juba and Octavian are step-adopted-brothers. On the surface there’s love, but underneath there’s hate, and one of the driving threads of Livingston’s plot is Juba’s drive for revenge. The story and plot threads of The Shards of Heaven are steeped in real history but sprinkled with a smidgen of fantasy.
The appetizer: Characters are tasty going down, but ultimately not very filling. Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo are the grizzled legionnaire veterans protecting the Antony/Cleopatra household. They’re smart, strong and buddies that go back to Julius Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul. They’re also the same true-to-history characters that HBO served up in their ROME series. Didymus is the chief librarian in Alexandria, but also responsible for the education of Cleopatra’s children: Caesarion, son of Cleo and Julius; and Cleo’s children with Antony — Selene, young ingénue and troublemaker; her twin Helios; and the youngest, Philadelphus. Most characters are indelicately drawn with perhaps the exception of Vorenus and Juba, and the later portions of Selene’s narrative.
The side dish: An Indiana Jones-like hunt for mysterious objects runs parallel to the main structural elements surrounding the war between Octavian and Antony’s forces. Driven by Juba’s thirst for revenge and Octavian’s drive for power, Antony’s clan gets caught up in a search for the shards and, naturally, a race against time. And yes, the key shard is actually embedded within Indy’s own Ark of the Covenant.
The dessert: Good ol’ fashioned fantasy — sorta. In my desire to throw no undue spoilers your way, I’ll summarize the fantasy element: the ancient one-ruling-god’s throne was broken into several magical pieces (or shards, if you will). They’re extremely powerful and each more-or-less representative of different elements. Poseidon’s Trident is the most-used weapon in the story and has power over water and liquid. Another shard is hidden within (REDACTED AS A SPOILER ALERT) and has the power over land. The aforementioned Ark has the all-compassing super shard.
Livingston uses The Shards of Heaven to explore the nature of religion in a world where empires span thousands of miles and effective rulers must find ways to incorporate and blend a multitude of religions. Egyptian gods become analogies of Roman gods. Sometimes gods from different nations stand side-by-side. And sometimes, new gods are invented to cover a host of multi-regional religious needs.
Livingston writes solid prose, and seems to enjoy crafting a vibrant battle scene. The fantasy elements play a strong role in the establishment of the story and in its conclusion, but fade in the middle third of the book. This may not be a bad thing, but for those looking for persistent magical happenings, you’ll have to burrow through the Roman battles that wind their way more thoroughly throughout the novel. For a debut offering, The Shards of Heaven is a fun, though inconsistent, read....more
Detectives Dan Carter and Charlie Hammond have finally tracked down and cornered the perverse serial killerOriginally posted at fantasyliterature.com
Detectives Dan Carter and Charlie Hammond have finally tracked down and cornered the perverse serial killer known as The Child-Catcher. Found in his own home, the detectives move in, focused on a speedy capture, before the Child-Catcher performs his bizarre version of open-brain surgery.
Charlie takes the lead, turns up a flight of stairs and Carter hears a shot ring out. He follows, and sees the Child-Catcher sitting against a wall, a pool of blood in his lap, and a seemingly serene smile on his lips. “Suicide by cop”. On the wall: a string-connected ‘psycho wall’.
Further down the hall, Carter’s partner is crying and laughing, Charlie put his S&W Model 5946 between his teeth, squeezed the trigger, and excused himself from life.
Jonathan L. Howard is no stranger to the authorial weird. His resume, after all, includes the Johannes Cabal series — some genetic hybrid of horror, humor, gothic and, well, weird. Carter & Lovecraft contains elements of all of those, but is decidedly dark and heavy. And he writes a powerful opening. The child killer is seemingly caught by Hammond and Carter. He's shot and while dying, the senior officer places a pistol in his mouth and pulls the trigger. No reason why.
Carter leaves the police and ventures off into the world of private investigation. While chasing cheating husbands, a lawyer appears in his office (rather mysteriously and… quietly), informing him that he’s been named the sole in inheritor of a home in Providence, Rhode Island. He’s never heard of his benefactor, one Alfred Hill, gone missing seven years ago.
Howard writes wonderful prose. He’s noir without being clichéd or overdone. The narrative flows without seeming wordy, and is imbued with a subtle sense of humor: "I'm sorry," said Carter. "I didn't hear you come in." "I came in," said the man, as if to reassure him. Carter didn't need the reassurance on that point, but it was kind of the man to offer it, all the same.
Hill’s ‘home’ is actually a bookstore: "Hill's Books -- Antiquarian & Secondhand”. Emily Lovecraft is Hill’s niece and has been managing the store since Hill’s disappearance. It will surprise no one that Emily is related to the Lovecraft of Providence fame, ol H.P. And yes, she’s the last in the Lovecraft lineage.
More weird happenings orbit Carter and Lovecraft, and they find themselves pulled by the gravity of a series of deadly events. A mathematician magician has an uncanny ability to ‘influence chance’, and while taking advantage of casinos also seems to defy physics in several apparent murders.
It’s clear that the events in and around Providence are not mere magic, nor are they of the natural world. This is, after all, the home turf of H.P. Lovecraft and his dramatically interwoven tales of cosmic horror. Emily is a reluctant expert of her ancestor’s writings and history and is able to tease out from the clues of the recent murders to connect the dots with her own family history. Providence isn’t normal… nor has it ever been.
"Everything… is kind of fucked up. And by ‘everything,’ I mean everything. Nothing is right, nothing is as it appears. I don’t just mean in some nihilistic, conspiratorial, paranoid kind of way. I mean fundamentally. And the joke is, it used to be worse. Then, back in the twenties, a group of guys figured out what was wrong, and how they could fix it. "
The world seems to becoming UN-fixed. And it’s no accident that former Det. Carter is involved. I’ll stay away from any further plot description/spoilers, but suffice it to say, there’s a whole lot of Lovecraftian weirdness, including disjointed cities, immortal creatures of the sea, and horrors that cause insanity with just a mere glimpse.
My biggest frustration with the pantheon of Lovecraftian writing is the lack of high quality long-form fiction. The space is awash with short stories, novellas and anthologies (I recently reviewed a Cthulhu-Roman Empire mash up anthology on FanLit). Howard’s entrant is a terrific mystery, wrapped up in a detective tale, enveloped in the cosmic weird of Lovecraft. And it succeeds. Carter & Lovecraft concludes with a terrific plot twist. And while Howard has written a solid and definitive ending in its own right, there’s a plethora of potential for a sequel. Additionally, Warner Brothers has acquired the television rights for the series. ...more
This was a good fast read, but I didn't love it. I'd recommend "In Cold Blood" to which this pays homage. It's original, real and a more fulfilling reThis was a good fast read, but I didn't love it. I'd recommend "In Cold Blood" to which this pays homage. It's original, real and a more fulfilling read....more
"The label was made of a waxy yellow parchment, glued in place and stained in a couple places by a variety of liquids over the years. Beneath the stai"The label was made of a waxy yellow parchment, glued in place and stained in a couple places by a variety of liquids over the years. Beneath the stains, in a barely legible scrawl, it stated: Specimen #73." -from Pete Kahle's "The Specimen"
This is a surprisingly good book. It's got aliens, a lot of action, a decent bit of mystery and all-in-all is a well-written tale. This Lovecraftian tale of ancient evil follows numerous characters through numerous time periods that blends mystery with scifi with good old fashioned gore-spirited horror.
The core narrative orbits around the discovery of a hideous 'specimen' of unknown origin offered for sale at an odds n' ends store. From there we learn of a mind-reading alien entity that's been manipulating pockets of humanity for untold years. Actually, the years are not untold because Kahle does a terrific job of bisecting his core plotlines with alien backstory that takes us to the time of the Aztecs, Spanish Inquisition, and northern Europe circa 700 AD.
In addition to the fun historical background tales, I particularly enjoyed the Lovecraftian mood set in passages such as this: "Like a leviathan eel lying in the centuries-old muck at the bottom of a stagnant lake, the horrors from his past stirred up the muddy debris of his mind with its convulsions, sending once hidden fossils to the surface."
If you're a fan of monster-based horror and MiB-like shadow military units, you'll like this story and love the fact that it's just the first in a series. It's not particularly deep, but it's a fun read. I recommend it....more
“Hell is reimagined by each generation. Its terrain is surveyed for absurdities and remade and, if necessary, reinvented to suit the current climate o“Hell is reimagined by each generation. Its terrain is surveyed for absurdities and remade and, if necessary, reinvented to suit the current climate of atrocity; its architecture is redesigned to appall the eye of the modern damned. In an earlier age Pandemonium - the first city of Hell - stood on a lava mountain while lighting tore the clouds above it and beacons burned on its walls to summon the fallen angels. Now, such spectacle belongs to Hollywood. Hell stands transposed. No lightning, no pits of fire." - from Clive Barkers’ “The Damnation Game"
Clive Barker’s first full-length novel is magnificent. It’s dark, intense and mostly unrelenting in it’s steady construction of supernatural horror. While full of gut wrenching visuals and causing a limitation of my ability to fall asleep, this novel beats with a heart of literature under it’s skin of genre horror.
Barker builds his story and characters layer by layer. Some might feel the early going is a bit slow but I would argue that the greatest of meals are those that take longer to make.
I’ve only recently discovered how pervasive is H.P. Lovecraft’s influence in modern horror. Not sure how this stayed off my radar for so long, but let’s just be glad that I finally figured out. “Damnation Game” in imbued with the spirit of Lovecraft. Just take a glimpse at a couple of passages from Barker, and his Lovecraftian storytelling of an otherworldly evil that lives just beyond site of the visible world and just on the edge of the great Void.
“It was, for a moment, not her who started out between the bars. It was something dredged up from the bottom of the sea. Black eyes swiveling in a gray head. Some primeval genus that viewed him - he knew this to his marrow - with hatred in its bowels."
“He became aware (was it just his dream life, denied its span in sleepless nights, spreading into wakefulness?) of another world, hovering beyond or behind the facade of reality."
If there’s anything to downgrade my rating it’s Barker’s awkwardly rapid transition of the budding affair of our two protagonists from tentative emotional exploration to full on can’t-live-without-you intensity. I either missed a paragraph or two, or Marty and Carys fell hard and fast after the first time they ‘hooked up’.
It’s a relatively small complaint, however. The story is terrific; the plot solid; the finish satisfying. Highly recommended....more
I'd read some really positive reviews of this novel, both from Amazon and elsewhere, and I thought it would make for a fun and light Lovecraftian horrI'd read some really positive reviews of this novel, both from Amazon and elsewhere, and I thought it would make for a fun and light Lovecraftian horror/thriller. It was light, and there's no denying author James Moore's connection to the Lovecraft collective mythos, but it just wasn't a good novel.
The characters were flat, the story was bland and predictable, and there was no pull of the reader into the grander vision of what makes Lovecraft-style stories so (capital G) "Grand".
This would be fine if you're looking for an inexpensive, quick 2-3 day read, with monsters, some mystery and a connective tissue to the world of H.P. The plot flows quickly enough and the writing is capable. I'm extremely respectful and envious of the craft of writing, but potential readers of this work should beware....more
Brett Talley's follow up to his magnificent Lovecraftian novel, "That Which Should Not Be", proves that he will carve out a place for himself among moBrett Talley's follow up to his magnificent Lovecraftian novel, "That Which Should Not Be", proves that he will carve out a place for himself among modern horror authors. This is a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi/horror/thriller.
While there are a handful of creepy-crawlies that jump from the darkness, Talley's true mastery is his development of horror through narrative, tone and mood. He builds his story upon a backbone of well-known fictional elements - "The Matrix", "The Odyssey", the film "Event Horizon". And while a bit derivative, it works extremely well and I found myself aching to finish the story.
"Void" is quite short and doubling the size, Talley would've had the opportunity delve deeper into the characterizations and further flesh out the backstory. That aside, I heartily recommend this book....more
“One can never truly know when he steps outside his door whether today will be a day that passes without consequence, or if it will be one that change“One can never truly know when he steps outside his door whether today will be a day that passes without consequence, or if it will be one that changes everything." - from Bretty Talley’s “That Which Should Not Be"
"That Which Should Not Be" is a dark and moody book, fit for a cold evening in front of the fire; or an autumnal read, for one wanting to build on the cyclical theme of the season. The writing style wreaks of HP Lovecraft, but also of Bram Stoker.
Talley has written four short stories that revolve around a central theme. A student from Lovecraft’s famed Miskatonic University is hunting for a lost book of ancient renown. It’s not the Necronomicon, but rather a companion piece to HP’s much discussed fictional tome. While seeking the book, Carter Weston stops at a pub to share a few drinks with locals to see what he can learn. Four locals then each dive into their own dark tale of the supernatural.
Talley channels Lovecraft well through plot development, theme and mood. As is characteristic with this genre, there are few decisive conclusions. The monster in the back of the cave is built upon a pedestal of of suggestion rather than true blood and gore. The horror resides in what’s unseen, or perhaps merely glimpsed.
Frequent and early Lovecraft references pave a very Lovecraftian road. “I must protect the Book. I will not surrender it, no matter what the cost. And if my life is to be forget, then I shall die as I have lived, standing against the black tide that would cover us all."
From the first tale, which contains more than a few shades of ’The Thing’, the storyteller relays ”Demon hunted the forest was that night, and in my dreams, I heard and felt the darkest and foulest beast that ever gibbered its wail from the depths of the pit."
In another story, Lovecraftian lore spews forth, “It was then that my eyes began to open to the dark forces that move in the uncultivated lands beyond the borders of the world we know.” I realize that “X-Files” can certainly be viewed through an Lovecraft-lens: The truth is out there…just beyond reach…just outside of the lighted pathways…just within the darkest recesses of city alleys, of partially opened bedroom doors.
You get a sense that the Wachowski brothers gave more than a little nod to HP as well in the cultish mythology built within their “Matrix” trilogy. From Talley’s book: “There is truth in myth my friend. Around you they walk even now, floating before your blind eyes. They are the flash in the corner of your vision, the shadow of moving where no now walks, the feeling of a presence, when you are completely alone, the whisper in the darkness. That which is, and was, and will be again.”
The following expresses the fulcrum upon which the story balances. Carter chats with the men in the pub between tales: “Ah, the consummate skeptic,” the Captain said. “And I would wear the name gladly,” I replied, “for it’s only the skeptic that gives value to the truth." “Yes,” the Captain said nodding, “but only when he is open to the truth. The skeptic with a closed mind becomes the worst kind of believer."
Myths run deep and rampant within the story. And while the heft of the stories themselves focus on it, the characters themselves act as authorial mouthpiece for its’ analysis. The four individual stories, as well as the connective tissue of the arching narrative, address the threads of an uber-world religion…references to a common foe, to common legends, regionalized as each peoples evolved over time. “But as I said before, in all myth is truth. And do we not see, in the myths of all civilizations, this believe, this feeling, that the gods have lived amongst us? That they have walked on the Earth? That they have ruled it? And at some point were overthrown? From the ancient sands of Egypt to garden-girdled Babylon. From the schools of Greece to the most high and palmy state of Rome, all speak of the same legend, the same faith.”
The writing is a bit clunky in parts and the stories are derivative. Some questionable plot points drive the narrative here and there, but upon reflection, this is likely due to the nascent efforts of an author learning and perfecting his trade. Overall, the book is well-written, the arching plot is well connected and the individual stories, though predictable, are well thought out and do well to build upon the Lovecraftian foundation.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it’s launching pad for me into the discovery of more Lovecraftian lore as well as Talley’s second novel - “The Void”. ...more
“Something…Something, something, something. Happened. Happened. Something happened." Jamie Morton in Stephen King’s “Revival"
“Revival” is a very modern“Something…Something, something, something. Happened. Happened. Something happened." Jamie Morton in Stephen King’s “Revival"
“Revival” is a very modern Stephen King novel that channels H.P. Lovecraft at his cyclopean best. His key characters are bold, if not as bold as some of his best work, and his themes are of familiar King material. King is often hammered by critics (professional and amateur alike) for his weak endings. But this ending is strong and memorable. It’s monstrous, dark and creepy as hell. It’s pure Lovecraft and beautiful in it’s austerity.
King has said that his fans love and return to his work, not because they love horror or any specific genre, but they love his very recognizable voice. His voice is strong within the characters, themes and memorable lines. While King’s primary character, Jamie Morton, is not a writer by trade in “Revival", we are reading his story; reviewing the tale he’s written with the benefit of hindsight. King still knows what he knows and he knows the psyche of authors: “…writing is a wonderful and terrible thing. It opens deep wells of memory that were previously capped."
“Revival” is a story about religion and anti-religion. A story about belief and the loss of belief…and an inability to believe. Morton and Paster Charles Jacobs orbit around each other their entire lives. Jacobs opens Morton’s eyes to God, but when his wife and child are taken from him in an awful automobile accident, their worlds diverge sharply only to reconnect, bounce off of each other, and return again.
“…everyone needs a miracle or two, just to prove life is more than just one long trudge from the cradle to the grave."
Religion, belief and obsession are the driving themes of King’s story. King writes about Paster Jacobs, “He spoke with the patience of a true believer. Or a lunatic.” It’s a fine, and often, undefinable, line. Jacobs then transforms, turns his back on true religion. “Religion is the theological equivalent of a quick-buck insurance scam, where you pay in your premium year after year, and then, when you need the benefits you paid for so—pardon the pun—so religiously, you discover the company that took your money does not, in fact, exist."
As usual, King scatters ‘easter eggs’ throughout his novel. He works in a reference to his own “Joyland”. He drops an analogy between Pastor Jacobs and Ahab’s obsessions with the great white whale. And you’ll find a not-so-subtle reference to the author of Frankenstein, while foreshadowing of his rather electric finale — a woman named Janice Shelley, who naturally has a daughter named Mary.
This isn’t King's best, but it’s a wonderful read with a fulfilling conclusion. ...more
“We are a religion of captains hoping to go down with the ship…the truth is that what moves the lifeblood of our faith is a thumping impulse toward se“We are a religion of captains hoping to go down with the ship…the truth is that what moves the lifeblood of our faith is a thumping impulse toward self-destruction. “Greater love has no one than this," Jesus says in the gospel of John. “To lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”” - from Ian Caldwell’s “The Fifth Gospel”
This is a very strong (and long-awaited) second offering by the co-author of “The Rule of Four”. I won’t spend much time summarizing the story lines…plenty of those words exist already...but suffice it to say that the plot orbits the Shroud of Turin and a newly discovered fifth Gospel. Caldwell’s a bit inconsistent through the first half of the book, in developing the series of mysteries, both secular and non-. But the smoldering plot ignites about midway through. The book is very smart…at times confusing, but very much worth the patience in understanding and learning. Patience is a virtue.
This is certainly similar to Dan Brown and yet it's not. Yes, there exists a mystery and yes, it revolves around a Catholic relic. The story itself is strong: in-depth Catholic knowledge not required. But one won't avoid reading this book and feeling smarter for it. I found myself engrossed by Caldwell’s deft hand at baking an almost religious dissertation (without seeming preachy), woven cleanly around the multi-threaded plot.
Brown has his almost superhuman Robert Langdon, and Caldwell has his Father Alex Andreou. Andreou's smart, wise and a little crafty, but far more human and, in many ways, realistic than Langdon. Langdon is a hero. Fr. Alex is a human. “The Fifth Gospel” is emotionally poignant, drawn subtly around Father Alex and those closest to him, and I’m not ashamed to admit that tears came to my eyes at two different points near the end of the book.
Father Alex narrates the following, perhaps even giving a little nod to the every increasing popularity of religiously-based thriller fiction: “Priests underestimate the appetite of payment for cheap thrills about Jesus. Most of us roll our eyes at the prospect of new gospels. Every cave in Israel seems to contain one, and most turn out to have been written centuries after Chris by little sects of Christian heretics, or else forged for the publicity."
"The Fifth Gospel" is a very good thriller/mystery. But it's more than the latest pseudo-archaeo-Dan Brown clone. It's about family, brothers, and sacrifice.
I received this through the Amazon Vine program. ...more
I absolutely loved Douglas Nicholas' initial foray into fantasy/horror/alternative history with 'Something Red'. It was deep and poetic with a linguisI absolutely loved Douglas Nicholas' initial foray into fantasy/horror/alternative history with 'Something Red'. It was deep and poetic with a linguistic flourish found all too infrequently in consumer fiction. While there's a hint of Nicholas' original magic in 'The Wicked', it's truly only a hint. The characters are bland at best and wooden at worst. The story flows well enough, but with too few interesting plot turns. Nicholas' writing is also flatter than his original.
If you enjoyed 'Something Red', you may enjoy 'The Wicked', but measure your expectations...more
The best thing about "The Last Conquistador" is the cover. Oh, and also that it's very short.
The characters are thin and the action is sporadic and raThe best thing about "The Last Conquistador" is the cover. Oh, and also that it's very short.
The characters are thin and the action is sporadic and random. I didn't care what happened through the final third of the book. I rushed to finish reading the book, like, I suspect, the author did in writing it. ...more
This immediately jumps towards the top of my all-time favorite books by King. He's spot on with his blend of horror and emotional depth. I literally cThis immediately jumps towards the top of my all-time favorite books by King. He's spot on with his blend of horror and emotional depth. I literally cried one day, and was horrified by every bump in the night, another.
“...more often than not, murder does out. Something (a certain wifely body in a certain abandoned gravel pit, for instance) comes to light. It’s as if“...more often than not, murder does out. Something (a certain wifely body in a certain abandoned gravel pit, for instance) comes to light. It’s as if there’s a fumble-fingered but powerful universal force at work, always trying to put wrong things to right.” Retired Detective Bill Hodges considers the case involving Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King stays away from the supernatural and explores a more Earth-bound and human-centric kind of horror in his latest, “Mr. Mercedes”. The story hits upon a type of tragedy that’s made real-world headlines in the last few years: an out of control car mows down pedestrians standing in a group, caught by surprise, and without any chance escape. While many of these real-life incidents appear accidental, the deaths in Stephen King’s story are quite murderous.
The story is rife with the evocative and foretelling-embued prose I’ve come to love and expect from Stephen King: “Shortly before five A.M., Augi roused from his own half-doze, stamped his feet to wake them up, and realized an unpleasant iron light had crept into the air. It was the furthest thing in the world from the rosy-fingered dawn of poetry and old Technicolor movies; this was an anti-dawn, damp and as pale as the cheek of a day-old corpse.”
A year after the crime, the lead Detective on the case, Bill Hodges, has retired without capturing the notorious Mr. Mercedes. Hodges receives a letter, supposedly from the killer, taunting Hodges back onto the case. Mr. Mercedes writes, “Most people are fitted with Lead Boots when they are just little kids and have to wear them all their lives. These Lead Books are called a CONSCIENCE.I have none, so I can soar high above the heads of the Normal Crowd.”
And from there, we’re off to the races.
Per usual, King’s pace is fast and the plot is tight. He’s able to create attractive personalities with minimal words. Detective Hodges is three-dimensional without being cliched. Mr. Mercedes is cold-hearted, but complex and Kins crafts him out of multi-layered backstory. King is very good with “broken” people, and one of the most “broken” in “Mr. Mercedes” is Holly Gibney, and middle aged woman so wracked with anxiety she’s more child than woman. She plays a key, but relatively small, part only making her first appearance about mid-way through the story. My only wish was for her to receive more print.
The story is terrific. The writing is superb. Stephen King’s stories are a bit notorious for their weak endings, but I didn’t find that to be the case in “Mr. Mercedes”....more