Stephen King: The Institute
by Hodder Paperbacks 23rd July 2020
NO ONE HAS EVER ESCAPED FROM THE INSTITUTE.
Ellis, a super-smart twelve-year-old with an exceptional gift, is the
latest in a long line of kids abducted and taken to a secret government
facility, hidden deep in the forest in Maine.
kids with special talents - telekinesis and telepathy - like Luke's new
friends Kalisha, Nick and Iris, are subjected to a series of
There seems to be no hope of escape. Until Luke teams up with an even younger boy whose powers of telepathy are off the scale.
far away in a small town in South Carolina, former cop Tim Jamieson,
looking for the quiet life, has taken a job working for the local
sheriff. He doesn't know he's about to take on the biggest case of his
career . . .
THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY OUT.
is superlative Stephen King - vintage Stephen King, almost. As I said
in my original review, King has tackled the subject of abducted
children several times in previous works, most notably in FIRESTARTER,
and then in the final volumes of the DARK TOWER series. His villains
are as villanous as it's humanly possible for a depraved human being to
be, and his children bond, as always, in their attempt to overcome the
atrocities that are played out on them. This is mind-stretching,
thrilling, a huge adventure carefully and brilliantly crafted by one of
the world's greatest ever popular fiction writers. The paperback is
well worth waiting for, and carries an enhanced cover compared to the
original hardcover version. Not long to wait for this gem!
The Holly Gibney Novels of Stephen King
King: Mr Mercedes
The first standalone novel in Stephen King's Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch) - and the basis of Mr Mercedes, an AT&T Audience Original Series starring Brendon Gleeson.
Described as 'the best thriller of the year' Sunday Express, the No. 1 bestseller introduces retired cop Bill Hodges in a race against time to apprehend a killer.
cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring Bill Hodges, a retired cop
who is tormented by 'the Mercedes massacre', a case he never solved.
Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of that notorious crime, has sent Hodges a taunting letter. Now he's preparing to kill again.
Each starts to close in on the other in a mega-stakes race against time.
King: Finders Keepers
The second standalone novel in Stephen King's Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch) - and the basis of the third season of Mr Mercedes, an AT&T Audience Original Series (10 September 2019).
Bellamy is a reader so obsessed by America's iconic author John
Rothstein that he is prepared to kill for a trove of notebooks
containing at least one more unpublished novel.
Saubers, a boy whose father was brutally injured by a stolen Mercedes,
discovers a buried trunk containing cash and Rothstein's notebooks.
After thirty-five years in prison, Morris is up for parole. And he's hell-bent on recovering his treasure.Now
it's up to retired detective Bill Hodges - running an investigative
company called 'Finders Keepers' - to rescue Pete from an ever-more
deranged and vengeful Morris...Not since Misery has King written with such visceral power about a reader with such a dangerous obsession. Finders Keepers is spectacular suspense, and it is King writing about how literature shapes a life for good, for bad, for ever.
King: End of Watch
cell rings twice, and then his old partner in his ear . . . 'I'm at the
scene of what appears to be a murder-suicide . . . Come and take a
look. Bring your sidekick with you.'
Hodges, who now runs a two-person agency called Finders Keepers with
partner Holly Gibney, is intrigued by the letter Z written with a
marker at the scene of the crime.
similar cases mount up, Hodges is stunned to discover the evidence
points to Brady Hartsfield, the notorious 'Mercedes Killer' who they
helped to convict. It should be impossible: Brady is confined to a
hospital room in a seemingly unresponsive state.
But Brady Hartsfield has lethal new powers. And he's planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.
The clock is ticking in unexpected ways...
King: The Outsider
Now a major HBO and Sky Atlantic limited series starring Ben Mendelsohn.
'If you read only one thriller this summer, make it this one' Daily Mail
A horrifying crime.
Water-tight evidence points to a single suspect.
Except he was seventy miles away, with an iron-clad alibi.
Anderson sets out to investigate the impossible: how can the suspect
have been both at the scene of the crime and in another town?
Holly Gibney stories have been interspersed with a couple of works, one
major, THE INSTITUTE, one fairly good, REVIVAL but it's not one you'd
count among King's finest, a novella curio, ELEVATION, and finally this
year's major Stephen King offering: IF IT BLEEDS, which features a
Holly Gibney novella. King occasionally references major characters in
other books, especially when he's referring to the Dark Tower series -
as in INSOMNIA, IT, THE INSTITUTE (references to men in dark cars),
HEARTS IN ATLANTIS (Low men in dark cars) etc., etc., but it's rare to
find a sequel, (apart from Doctor Sleep, of course) let alone a series of novels by King all centering on
one or in this case two main characters - for Holly Gibney, who comes
into her own in THE OUTSIDER, often makes reference herself to her
beloved partner Bill Hodges, asking herself "what would Bill do", for
example. Holly isn't an out and out heroine like Supergirl, or Scout
Finch, though. She has many, many quirks, not least OCD. She's not
beautiful, at least, there's no suggestion that she's a beauty, like
Sadie in 11:22:63, or like Beverley Marsh in IT. She's rapidly approaching middle age. But she's tenacious,
and she's determined. After meeting Bill Hodges in MR MERCEDES at Janey
Trelawney's funeral, Holly begins to come out of her shell and from
behind the shadow of her domineering and deeply unpleasant mother.
the end of the story, she's ready to take on a partnership with Bill in
his newly formed private investigation company, Finders Keepers. The
one constant evil throughout the original trilogy is Brady Hartsfield,
and in this respect, the trio of thrillers is slightly more than just
that, it starts to take on a small matter of the supernatural. Because
Hartsfield, although more or less clinically dead in all three novels, is able to
transfer his monstrous capabilities into firstly the brains of the
people who are looking after him, and then into their actual bodies.
The supernatural theme continues in The Outsider and in the novella IF
IT BLEEDS, as Holly comes face to face with a vampiric being that feeds
off people's emotions and is capable of shape shifting and
metamorphosing into other people. It's tempting to think that King
wanted a change of direction after many, many years of scaring the
pants off people, and this has occurred at regular intervals throughout
his career, with non-supernatural and horror novels such as The STAND,
ROSE MADDER, BAG OF BONES etc. And most of the mainstream press
describe the Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney trio as "thrillers".
they're more than thrillers. And when Holly becomes the central
character in THE OUTSIDER, it's confirmation that King's obsession with
the supernatural has been there all along. I really enjoy reading the
Holly Gibney novels, although I have to say that IF IT BLEEDS was
really a repeat of what went on in THE OUTSIDER. Good, but not great. I
think that King's great, glory days are behind him, and there are
perhaps two dozen brilliant novels (I won't name them here, it would
turn out to be just my personal selection, after all), and many, many
more really good novels. By and large, King doesn't have a great many
female heroes - there is the aforementioned Beverley Marsh in IT;
there's Frannie Goldsmith in THE STAND; there's Sadie Clayton in
11:22:63; and there are various female characters that are worthy of
note but who do not generally take centre stage in the way the male
characters do. Holly Gibney is the first central female hero that I can
remember, and I've read 99% of what's on offer from Stephen King. The
Mr Mercedes trio and THE OUTSIDER are
great supernatural thrillers, the IF IT BLEEDS novella is not great but
very good, and the book does contain one standout novella, which is MR
HARRIGAN'S PHONE. The last really great novel by King, in my opinion,
is THE INSTITUTE, which I'm currently reading for the second
time, and thoroughly enjoying it, while I look forward to the paperback
edition coming in July, and which you can find on the Fantasy and SF
page in this issue.
More about Stephen King next month...
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