A first novel that deserved hardcovers.

TOO MUCH OF NOTHING

A prosperous beginning for San Francisco-based reporter and stage critic Moore.

In 1984, high-school sophomore Eric Sperling died during a car accident with his violently upset buddy Tom Linden at the wheel. Fifteen years later, in purgatory, Eric’s lonely ghost still hangs about Calaveras beach in South Los Angeles, trying to haunt Tom—who actually murdered Eric, who wants vengeance. Vengeance may consist of awakening Tom to the foulness of his deed in murdering his friend, although Tom has spent some years in jail for the death he caused while smashed out of his mind. Throughout the story, we know only that it happened in a car that struck the back end of a big truck. Eric has never seen another spirit like himself, although he’s become a spiritual Jewish being who studies in purgatory, in purgatory, in purgatory, a set of the 20-volume Zohar. In fact, he reads a lot in nearby libraries, and his tale illustrates an aspect of Jewish mysticism. He also has some physical abilities—to make floors creak, slam doors, even to float high over the beach. Back in their high-school days, Tom’s alcoholic father died by falling off a fishing boat and striking his head on the prop. Tom lives with his German-American mother and has been sucked into the violent mindset of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. He slips LSD into a teacher’s coffee and is later expelled for a year. Repellent though Tom is, Rachel falls for him and becomes his lover. Then Rachel accepts Eric as a lover as well, and when Tom finds out he kills Eric. While much of the story offers a big mix of secondary cultural figures, it turns on Tom’s character, his hardening in prison, his strange later life as he becomes his father, lies around stoned and drunk and shielded by booze from even seeing or hearing Eric until the unbearable moment comes when the dead boy appears before him.

A first novel that deserved hardcovers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7867-1196-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

Things are about to get bloody for a group of Charleston housewives.

In 1988, the scariest thing in former nurse Patricia Campbell’s life is showing up to book club, since she hasn’t read the book. It’s hard to get any reading done between raising two kids, Blue and Korey, picking up after her husband, Carter, a psychiatrist, and taking care of her live-in mother-in-law, Miss Mary, who seems to have dementia. It doesn’t help that the books chosen by the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant are just plain boring. But when fellow book-club member Kitty gives Patricia a gloriously trashy true-crime novel, Patricia is instantly hooked, and soon she’s attending a very different kind of book club with Kitty and her friends Grace, Slick, and Maryellen. She has a full plate at home, but Patricia values her new friendships and still longs for a bit of excitement. When James Harris moves in down the street, the women are intrigued. Who is this handsome night owl, and why does Miss Mary insist that she knows him? A series of horrific events stretches Patricia’s nerves and her Southern civility to the breaking point. (A skin-crawling scene involving a horde of rats is a standout.) She just knows James is up to no good, but getting anyone to believe her is a Sisyphean feat. After all, she’s just a housewife. Hendrix juxtaposes the hypnotic mundanity of suburbia (which has a few dark underpinnings of its own) against an insidious evil that has taken root in Patricia’s insular neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see her grow from someone who apologizes for apologizing to a fiercely brave woman determined to do the right thing—hopefully with the help of her friends. Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls, 2018, etc.) cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he’s a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet.

Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68369-143-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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