If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Two Stephen King book reviews in a row. Elevation was the most recent book that I’ve finished, and If It Bleeds is the least recent book I finished but hadn’t reviewed.

If It Bleeds is a collection of four shorter stories.

The first novella, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, is classic Stephen King. The story follows a young boy who becomes obsessed with his late employer’s iPhone and discovers a terrifying connection that blurs the line between the living and the dead. With his keen understanding of human nature, King delves into themes of obsession, mortality, and the consequences of tampering with forces beyond our control.

The second novella, The Life of Chuck, is a thought-provoking exploration of life’s meaning and the interconnectedness of our existence. King employs a nonlinear narrative structure that adds a layer of mystery and intrigue to the tale. The story unravels in reverse chronological order, revealing the life and impact of a seemingly ordinary man named Chuck. The story is poignant and introspective, leaving readers pondering the mysteries of life and the legacy we leave behind.

Next, we have If It Bleeds, the titular novella that features one of King’s most beloved characters, Holly Gibney. Known for her appearances in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Holly takes centre stage in this thrilling detective story. When a string of mysterious child murders rocks the city, Holly’s investigative skills and intuition come to the fore as she uncovers a malevolent force at work. King effortlessly blends elements of crime fiction and horror, creating a suspenseful narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. If you enjoyed the Bill Hodges books then you have to read this.

Finally, Rat concludes the collection with a tale of a teacher who takes a sabbatical to write a book, out in a remote cabin in the woods. The potential author rescues a rat from drowning, which then starts talking to him. With its dark humour and razor-sharp commentary on human nature, Rat serves as a fitting finale to the collection.

If It Bleeds showcases Stephen King’s versatility as a writer, effortlessly transitioning between genres and exploring a wide range of human experiences. His characters are richly developed, and their struggles feel authentic and relatable. King’s prose remains as captivating as ever, drawing readers into each story’s world and refusing to let go until the final page.

If It Bleeds is a must-read for fans of Stephen King, although if you haven’t read any of his books, this probably isn’t the one to start with. With its blend of suspense, horror, and thought-provoking narratives, this collection will leave you both entertained and haunted. Prepare to lose yourself in the twisted and captivating worlds created by one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

Have I mentioned how behind I am with reviewing books that I’ve read? I finished these three books well over a year ago. Can I remember what happened? Probably, but only with a little help from Goodreads.

Mr Mercedes is the first book in the trilogy. The book starts with hundreds of unemployed people queuing to get into a job fair. Suddenly, a man driving a Mercedes plows into the queue of people, killing 8 and injuring many more. In the confusion he manages to drive away and is never caught.

Bill Hodges is an ex-cop and is haunted by the one big case that he never managed to solve. He is contemplating suicide when he receives a letter taunting him, supposedly from the killer. The letter has the opposite effect and revitalizes Bill, who becomes hell bent on catching him, with only two close friends to help him. Time is against him as the next target could kill thousands.

Finders Keepers, the second book doesn’t really follow on from the first book. The killer only features in a very minor role, possibly added as an after thought to tie the characters together, otherwise this book would have been a stand alone book. I guess that the publishers realised that there was more to be made if it was part of a series.

Anyway, the book revolves around a reclusive writer and his biggest fan. The writer hasn’t published any books for years, but rumour has it that he still writes every day. The fan tracks the author down and steals all of his unpublished books and a safe full of money, before killing the author. Knowing that the authorities are closing in, he hides the books and the money.

Decades later a young man finds that money and books and uses the money to help his family out of their financial woes. He also tries to sell the unpublished books, which is where it all falls apart. By this time, Bill Hodges has set up a detective agency, and they become involved.

End of Watch is more like Stephen King. Full of supernatural elements as Bill Hodges and his team try to prove that the killer from book one is still a danger. It is difficult to say too much about the final book without giving away the ending from the first book. What I can say is that the killer has managed to link minds with other people and even take control of their bodies. This isn’t going to end well, and can Bill and his crew put a stop to him once and for all.

My overall thoughts about the trilogy is that they probably wouldn’t have been published if they hadn’t been written by Stephen King. They are not his strongest works by a long way, with the first two books being not much more than sub-par thrillers. However, as we all know, Stephen King could publish his weekly shopping list and it would sell by the thousand (million?). I’m still a fan, but this trilogy is definitely one for the fans only.