Tag: Joyland

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Posted August 21, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Thriller / 0 Comments

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen KingTitle: Mr. Mercedes (Goodreads)
Author: Stephen King
Published: Hodder, 2014
Pages: 496
Genres: Crime, Thriller
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When I picked up Stephen King’s new novel Mr Mercedes, I felt anxious and nervous. This novel has been billed as King’s first hard-boiled detective novel and it reminded me of his past attempts at pulp fiction. Joyland was billed as a pulp novel and by all accounts it had the makings of a good dime-store novel but the end result felt like King stuck to what he does best and only paying homage to the genre. Mr Mercedes has all the hallmarks of a hard-boiled novel, a brooding and jaded detective, a femme fatale and mysterious villain but this read more like a cat and mouse suspense thriller. Don’t get me wrong, this novel is a homage to detective fiction; Philip Marlow gets a mention and a fedora even makes an appearance. Though the third person narrative and chapters focusing solely on the killer meant we are in a thriller and I had to adjust my expectations.

Bill Hodges is a retired cop with not much to do; when he was on the force he was highly decorated but now he is left alone with the thoughts of all his unsolved cases. One of those cases was the psycho-loner who ploughed down a crowd of people in a stolen Mercedes. One day Hodges receives a letter from this killer taunting him into a little game of cat and mouse. This is a high-stakes race against time; can Hodges catch the Mercedes Killer before he strikes again?

I found it interesting that Stephen King picked the fundamental character archetypes found in hard-boiled fiction, in particular to Bill Hodges, and made it his own. On the other hand the plot felt into the typical tropes found in suspense thrillers. So we have a book that is walking a fine line between homage and cliché. When it comes to hard-boiled detectives, there has been a great evolution in the genre and character archetype; it was felt a little dated to see an old white guy again. I felt it to be unnecessary, in fact I am struggling to think of any ethnicity within the book that didn’t come across as stereotypical. It was a shame because you can do so much with a hard-boiled detective and still keep him as a homage to 1940’s crime novels.

I get the impression that maybe Stephen King is the kind of writer that sticks to the tried and true methods of writing within a genre. As prolific author, I’m beginning to question if he ever takes a risk in his writing. I am not one to judge King’s work, I’ve only read a few of his books (I think five) but they all seem to follow the typical tropes found within their genres. Does he take risks?

It is starting to bug me this whole ‘old white guy’ category of novels all feature non-multicultural characters and if we do have some ethnicity, they all feel a little too stereotypical. It isn’t necessary in today’s novels; there is room to explore some diversity within a book. I won’t go into anything about feminism because I fear I would give spoilers with what I want to say but we need more strong/independent women in novels like this.

Having had a bit of a rant, I found that I’ve managed to talk about the novel and not give any spoilers. I did in fact enjoy the ride this took me on, it was predictable and typical of the genre but sometimes it is fun to go on that journey again. In fact (with the exception of On Writing) I think this is the first Stephen King novel that I have actually enjoyed. I find some parts of his other books entertaining but on a whole they do not work for me. Maybe I’ve just read the wrong King novels. Bill Hodges is returning in another two more novels and I will be picking them up and using the books as a little entertaining read when I need them.


Joyland by Stephen King

Posted July 22, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Joyland by Stephen KingTitle: Joyland (Goodreads)
Author: Stephen King
Series: Hard Case Crime #112
Published: Hard Case Crime, 2013
Pages: 283
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Hardcover

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Devin Jones has gotten a job working as a ‘carnie’ in a small North Carolinian town. The amusement park Joyland was a site of the legendary unsolved murder. The house of Horrors was where this murder took place, half way through the ride a man cut the throat of his date and threw the body out of the carriage. It wasn’t until the end of the night that they found the dead body (most people thought it was part of the house of horrors) but by then the man was long gone.

Stephen King is best known for his fantastical and horror elements but since this was a Hard-Case Crime novel, I expected more of a pulp novel rather than what I got. There was that pulp and gritty whodunit element but true to King style there was some supernatural components within the novel as well which for me seemed unnecessary; I felt like King sets up the novel in his normal horror fashion and then completely forgets about it. It wasn’t till right near the end that he returned to this plot arc, almost like he needed to wrap everything up in a nice neat bow so he had to finish off that arc as quickly as possible. Without these supernatural elements the novel would remain just the same and maybe even more realistic. There is the fortune teller who gets more air time but then that could be just a character that is really good at reading people and wouldn’t need to be explained.

Both the whodunit and horror genre styles don’t really fit this book anyway; this is a coming of age novel, dealing with Devin’s first real job, his first heart break, first sexual experience, as well as friendship and loss. The story feels like a noir or pulp novel by the way it is written but that all takes a backseat to the building of characters. Not that there is anything wrong with that but in pulp novels it’s all about the minimalism and jamming the novel with a fast paced plot. Joyland didn’t do this and I struggle to find a reason why this book was added to the Hard-Case Crime series.

So once I got past my initial expectations, Joyland does turn out to be a fairly enjoyable novel. It’s not what I wanted but it was still good. I’ve not read much of King in the past (The Gunslinger and 11/22/63) and both those novels really were not what I would have expected from a Stephen King novel. I must remember to read some of his classic novels like The Shining, The Stand or It just to see if what I expect from this author is different. I never expected so much character development and I never expected his books to focus more on the relationship with other characters, but it seems I might be misinformed about his works.

Joyland mainly focuses on Devin’s heartbreak, the girl he thought was the one and everything was perfect. You know your typical young adult, love struck thinking that never seems to be correct. This heartbreak really affects Devin, as all first heartbreaks do, but then he meets single mum Annie and her son Mike. Mike is such a great character and probably the only one I actually liked within the book and the relationship between the three blossoms in a somewhat awkward way. I felt like King had a good handle on the difficult relationship but some of the directions he took left me perplexed. This plot arc took up about two hundred pages and that only left 80 pages to really return to the mystery of Joyland.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I feel this book wasn’t marketed properly, this is not a noir style mystery and I don’t think it deserved to be put in the Hard-Case Crime series. As a standalone Stephen King novel I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it wasn’t marketed the way it was. Interestingly King didn’t release this book in eBook format, he wanted everyone to go into their local bookstore and buy the book. Yet he didn’t restrict the sales of the book on those online bookselling websites; so really his attempt to get people into bookstores failed. Don’t go into this novel expecting pulp, this is a coming of age story, with a dash of attempt at the pulp genre.


What Books Have Been Trending – April-June 2013

Posted June 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book Trends / 0 Comments

As we head into the middle of the year we are now going to start seeing all the summer (winter here) blockbusters being released. It feels like there is a new book being talked about every week nowadays but once again I thought I would have my fun and look at some of the books I’ve noticed trending for the past three months. Like always this is not accurate, this is judgement plus culling most books so we can cover more genres.

April

Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavours and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of–or has the courage to ask.

 

A guy walks into a bar car and…From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humour and intelligence and leave you deeply moved. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is David Sedaris humourous collection of essays that cover a range of topics.

Ursula Todd is born in a snowstorm in England in 1910 but dies before she can take her first breath. During that same snowstorm she was born again and lives to tell the tale; again and again. Life after Life tells the story of Ursula’s lives, as with each new life she makes small changes that send her on a completely different path.

 

Summer, Massachusetts. An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business. Anyone could be next. NOS4R2 is an old-fashioned horror novel in the best sense. Claustrophobic, gripping and terrifying, this is a story that will have you on the edge of the seat while you read, and leaving the lights on while you sleep.

Nora Eldridge, a 37-year-old elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is on the verge of disappearing. Having abandoned her desire to be an artist, she has become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and tidy neighbour always on the fringe of others’ achievements. The Woman Upstairs is a masterly told story of America today, of being a woman and of the exhilarations of love.

May

A new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In And the Mountains Echoed, we follow its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

One last Sookie Stackhouse adventure; Life has taken her from a waitress in Merlotte’s Bar, Bon Temps, to part owner; from social outcast to the heart of her community; from a vampire’s girlfriend to the wife of one of the most powerful vampires in the state. She has survived earthquakes, revolutions and attempts on her life. Dead Ever After is the final chapter in this much loved series.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centred on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno. From the bestselling thriller author that brought us The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demon’s comes the forth book in the Robert Langdon series, Inferno.

The 1st Wave took out half a million people.
The 2nd Wave put that number to shame.
The 3rd Wave lasted a little longer, twelve weeks… four billion dead.
In the 4th Wave, you can’t trust that people are still people.
And The 5th Wave? No one knows. But it’s coming.

Rose Baker seals men’s fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. She is The Other Typist, an office girl in a New York City Police Department precinct. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.

June

From the moment I first met Gideon Cross, I recognized something in him that I needed. Something I couldn’t resist. I saw the dangerous and damaged soul inside–so much like my own. I was drawn to it. I needed him as surely as I needed my heart to beat. Entwined with You is the third book in Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series; Entwined by our secrets, we tried to defy the odds.

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.

 

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such mega successes: sexy, irresistible characters. romantic and mythological intrigue, and relentless action and suspense.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

 

The National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann comes an astonishing new novel, TransAtlantic. Through a series of narratives that span 150 years and two continents comes this magnificent and somewhat ambitious novel. From the first TransAtlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland to the American senator crossing the ocean in search for lasting peace in Ireland, this is part fiction part historical literary achievement.

There are some very obvious choices here but that seems to be the books that I have seen being talked about the most. I do cut out a lot of books if I feel like there are too many in the same genre, I want to leave room for books in other genres that people might be interested in. I’ve read a few of these books and have a lot on my TBR already. I would love to hear what you think I’ve missed and what you expect to trend in the next three months.