SALEM RECOMMENDS: LATER by STEPHEN KING

In horror maestro Stephen King’s latest (see what I did there?), a young boy who lives with his single mother realises he can see dead people.

Sound familiar?

But don’t be fooled because The Sixth Sense this ain’t. This is far more visceral stuff. Our young hero is Jamie Conklin, but he doesn’t stay young for long. As we follow him into his teens he learns to accept his gift and use it to do good deeds, like finding a missing wedding ring for an elderly neighbour who has just lost his wife. His mother is a literary agent (I love how King never strays far from the book world) whose business seems doomed following the death of her number one client. His mother has a girlfriend, a dirty cop called Liz, who brings to the story a generous helping of noir menace.

Jamie’s world takes a turn for the bizarre and terrifying when Liz intercepts him from school one day to help her prevent an atrocity being committed. A psycho who has been terrorising the city has taken his own life, but not before planting a bomb that’s set to go off god knows where and god knows when.

Liz wants Jamie to help her find the dead guy’s ghost and get the location of the bomb out of him before lives are lost. But, of course, this being Stephen King, things are not quite that simple.

This is King’s third book in the Hard Case Crime series and is told in the first person, which lends a cool swagger to the narrative without losing the author’s signature groove. The protagonist is likeable and the story zips along at a satisfying and exciting pace. Also, crucially, the sense of threat he faces is palpable and leads to a thrilling denouement that features a genuinely gasp-inducing twist.

I really enjoyed living in Jamie’s world while reading this book. My only complaint would be that it left me wanting more. But, thinking about it, I’m not sure that even qualifies as a complaint at all.

Published by Richard E. Rock

I write - you fright.

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