Brief Takes: Duma Key: A Novel, by Stephen King


One of King’s better efforts about memory, age, connections, hauntings, curses, and dysfunctional families. I had a hard time getting past the downer beginning about a man whose life has completely fallen apart, but loved it once it started rolling.  Get ready for ghost ships and pirates.


Brief Takes: Just After Sunset, by Stephen King

Just After Sunset

Stephen King’s first book of short stories in many years shows his growth as an author and also gives his old fans a good taste of what they’ve come to expect from him. The stories vary in tone much more than in previous collections, and Mr. King has clearly been energized from his recent work editing short story collections for others. If you’ve avoided Mr. King because of his reputation as a horror hack, now might be a good time to reconsider.

Brief Takes: The Poet, by Michael Connelly

This is the first book I’ve read from Michael Connelly, and it was a recommendation from Stephen King that make me pick it up. The elements described on the back of the book alone made me want to read it: a serial killer who slays cops who are haunted by cases they couldn’t crack. Additionally, the killer makes it look like the cops commented suicide, and leaves quotes from Edgar Allen Poe with the bodies as “suicide notes.” Great plot elements and a real page turner.

More importantly, however, I don’t remember reading a book before in which the narrator had such believable insight into himself, and in which his own perceived flaws play so heavily into the plot. One of the cops who has been killed was the narrator’s twin brother, and he compares his life to his brother’s and examines his own through the ever-changing filter of his understanding of the case. The plot has enough twists and turns that you and the narrator can interpret different things at different times in a hugely different way. That self-awareness of the narrator is what made me come away from this book feeling that I’d had more than just a roller-coaster ride of a thriller, and more an understanding of how our self-image and our choices determine the outcome of our lives.