An inventive and macabre new spin on malevolent body snatchers.

THE HOLLOW ONES

A rookie FBI agent stumbles into a supernatural mystery when a series of murders erupts in New York, starting with her partner.

Hogan and del Toro have an exceptional track record with supernatural thrillers—see The Strain Trilogy (2009-2011)—so this new series starring a novice FBI agent and a classic occult detective is a welcome gift to disciples of Lovecraft-ian fiction. Odessa Hardwicke is cast in the mold of Clarice Starling, a tough but self-doubting FBI agent still finding her way. She and her jaded partner, Walt Leppo, are first on the scene when a disgraced politician slays his wife and children. In the midst of this gruesome scene, Leppo unexpectedly and abruptly stabs the surviving child, forcing Odessa to shoot him dead, glimpsing a weird specter departing as he breathes his last. The narrative then jumps from the modern day to the Mississippi Delta circa 1962, where African American FBI agent Earl Solomon is on the trail of someone lynching white victims. Intertwined between these storylines is the origin story of our other primary character, John Blackwood, a seemingly immortal investigator modeled after Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence. These disparate threads converge as Odessa, unjustly exiled from the FBI, connects with a dying Solomon, who gives her insight into his odd fellowship with Blackwood. After Odessa delivers an appeal to a cryptic mailbox in Manhattan, Blackwood suddenly materializes, a gaunt, erudite, and awkward consort cursed to chase down a specific breed of evil in this world. The body count rises with a massacre on Long Island while Blackwood teaches Odessa about a twisted cult dating back to Mesopotamian times that affords a select few souls, the titular Hollow Ones, the ability to jump between bodies and find ecstasy in their host’s violent death. Readers of occult fiction from Poe to Richard Kadrey will instantly recognize the creepy vibes and likely enjoy the ride.

An inventive and macabre new spin on malevolent body snatchers.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-6174-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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