This novel is typical Stephen King in many ways – the dialogue, the murders, the eccentric characters who give hints to the future – but feels different from his usual style in some ways – it’s short! And it’s a whodunnit. I loved it, though, and floated through the 283 pages that same way as I always do when reading Stephen King – wondering why I ever bother to read books by anyone else.
It was published this year, but set in the 70s, the era King seems most comfortable in, although not in Maine, his favourite State, but in North Carolina. Our narrator is a twenty one year old boy who is working at a amusement park for his college summer break. Before he even starts work there he learns of a vicious murder that happened on the ghost train ride, and of the ghost that haunts the ride. He meets a young boy with “the sight” who kind of helps him to solve the crime. For a story involving a ghost and a couple of psychics there is not as much supernatural goings-on as in many Stephen King novels, but there’s just enough for it to stay familiar. It is primarily a whodunnit, and it keeps you guessing who the murderer is right up to the end. We get some hints here and there along the way, but some of them are red herrings. It is also about coming of age and all the joys and sadness that brings.
This is not typical Stephen King, but could be a good introduction for those who have not read anything by him for a while, because it’s so short, and he does tend to enjoy writing the heavier volumes, this one is refreshingly quick and easy to read. He’s still got it, and long may he keep it.