This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

12 July, 2013


Cover art by Glenn Chadbourne


ISBN: 978-1-848631-26-7
Pages: 174 (+afterword)
Publisher: PS Publishing
First published: 4 October 2005
This edition published: December 2010

On the cover:
(From the publisher's web-site. There's no text on the actual cover.)

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it's more than a year before the man is identified. And that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still? 

   I feel it's important to get one thing clear from the outset when it comes to this novella; It is not SFF. If anyone ever needed any evidence that King is not solely a SFF writer, this would be exhibit A. What we have here is a story belonging in the Mystery genre. A strange mystery perhaps, but not as strange as to take it into the SFF genre.

   We learn very early on that this is a mystery, and what this novella really is, is the story of this mystery being told to (what is arguably) the book's main character. And what really struck me is how simple, yet complicated, the structure of this story is.
   In one way the story is actually too simple to really work. Although I thought it was great the whole time when reading it, there was the feeling every time I did my review notes (,something I do after every chapter, ) that this shouldn't really work. But it is undeniable that it does. Part of it comes down to King's storytelling ability, something that this kind of storytelling structure really shows off to great effect. And part of it is because although you do know it is a mystery, the discovery of what the mystery is makes for compelling story in itself.

   We get quite close to the main characters, there's three of them. And in a sense these three characters are more important than the mystery we are being told about. It's the interaction between the three, the two who tell the story of the mystery and the one being told the story, that makes everything work - even though as I pointed out earlier, in some ways it shouldn't.
   King manages to tell us quite a lot about these three characters as the mystery is told. I really felt I got close to them, and by the end of the novella I had even come to care about them. That is not really unusual for King's characters, but he does show here that he can do it in few pages if he is so inclined.

   This really is a story that appeals to my love for the weird and strange. In many ways it is common - just a slice of reality - but at the same time it is a wonderfully bizarre story that fits in very well with some of King's more fantastical work.
   I think this would be of interest to anyone who likes mystery, and also to those that like to read about a slice of small town life. And it should be a high priority for those that like to see the mundane mixed with the strange.
   And of course, it goes without saying that this should have a place on the shelves of every Stephen King fan. This is King at his absolute best, and he really shows off how great a teller of stories he is in this novella.

NOTE: I don't do "buy links" (, a matter of principle for me,). But I know this can be a bit difficult to find in a paper edition, so if you want to own this novella in Hardcover version it might not be a bad idea to start looking on the publisher's website.

LINKS: Stephen King  PS Publishing


  1. If it helps - you can still find paperbacks of the original edition (the Hard Case Crime) pretty much everywhere.

    Amazon link for reference:

    1. I saw that when I looked for it. If I remember correctly, a "as new" Hard Case PB costs more than the PS HC edition.

  2. Great review. This is one of King's stories that I have not read, but it sounds good. Thanks for sharing!!


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