Stephen King's latest release, If It Bleeds. It was well worth the wait! But then again - so is every book from King!
But then again, how can you imagine what a Stephen King tale is going to involve? For me, I love the delicious feeling I get when I crack the first page or listen to the first disc of a new King book. The possibilities are endless as is Stephen King's imagination.
If It Bleeds is a collection of four novellas - Mr. Harrigans Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story, If It Bleeds.
They're all excellent tales, but my hands down fave was If It Bleeds. Why? Because it's the return of Holly Gibney! Holly is a recurring character, most notably from the Mr. Mercedes novels as well as The Outsider. Holly is working predictable cases at the Finders Keepers Detective Agency when she sees news footage of a school bombing. But the reporter.....there's something, well....something wrong about him. And that's all I'm going to say. Sooooo good. I've always enjoyed Holly as she has grown through over the years. She still doubts herself, but is much stronger now. And this time, she's working alone. Do or die so to speak. The danger is palpable in this listen and had me staying up too late to finish it! (This is also where the book's title comes from - news jargon - If it bleeds, it leads). The reader for this story absolutely captured Holly's hesitancy and conveyed her new found determination. And he easily transmits the danger - and evil of the story.
In Mr. Harrigan's Phone, a young teen makes friends with a crotchety, old (and wealthy) neighbor. I really enjoyed their interactions and the relationship as it developed. But a gift from Craig to Mr. Harrigan seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.... Okay, I've heard the urban myths about this one, but King puts his own stamp on it - and will have you wondering....The reader for this one had just the right (and believable) voices for both characters. Lots of inflection and movement with the reading immerses the reader in the tale. And I liked the pacing of the narration.
The cover is clever - it may just look like a cat - but look at the nose area - yep, that's a rat. And the star of the next novella, Rat. You know the phrase - make a deal with the devil. But what about a deal with a rat? Uh huh, a wannabe novelist is desperate to finish a book. I think what was the most unsettling about this tale was the rat's voice and dialogue. Is the rat really talking to the writer? Or is it all in his head? The narrator for this one was excellent. The voice for the rat is calm and reasonable, which makes it all the more frightening. And the voice used for the would be novelist absolutely catches his hope, his incredulity and ultimately..... This reader was a clear speaker and easy to understand. His voice was just right for this tale.
The Life of Chuck was interesting in it's presentation. It's told backwards in three acts, beginning with the end of the world (kinda spooky listening to this one in today's atmosphere...). Billboards are showing up everywhere thanking Chuck for his 39 years of service. Who is Chuck? Does he tie into the end of the world? Each acts goes a little bit further into the past until....well until the beginning and the end meet. In a way I hadn't imagined.The reader for this one had a nice little gravelly undertone that suited the mental image I was creating for Chuck. His voice was really expressive and definitely holds the listener's attention.
I chose to listen to If It Bleeds. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Listening draws the reader further into the story in my experience. (And this is one of the few books I would listen to again in the future.) The readers for this book were Will Patton, Danny Burstein and Steven Weber. Patton and Weber have both read King novels in the past. Hear for yourself - Listen to an excerpt of If It Bleeds. Oh, make sure you listen to the author's notes at the end - King talks about the inspiration for the novellas.
(For a real treat, here's a video of King himself reading from If It Bleeds.)