From Publishers Weekly
DeMunn offers an appropriately lighthearted reading of this surprisingly toothless mystery from King. The prerequisite is the ability to handle the pronounced Maine accent the book demands, as it features a pair of veteran newspaper reporters from an island off the state's coast relating a story to an eager young intern. DeMunn handles the old men's colloquialisms with consistency and ease while the two take turns spinning the tale of "the Colorado Kid," a man found dead on a local beach years ago without any identification or any feasible reason for being there. With its regional flavor and chummy protagonists, the book never lacks charm, and the story is intriguing. It hardly delivers the kind of noir tale that the first entry in the Hard Case Crime series would lead one to expect, but DeMunn does a more than adequate job of narrating this cozy mystery that will leave listeners not so much shocked as pleasantly perplexed.
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King's latest is published by Hard Case Crime, a small imprint hell-bent on bringing the pulps back to life (see "Pulp Faction," BKL My 1 05). A contribution from the master of the horrible and fantastic--who clearly read a few paperbacks growing up--makes perfect sense. But oddly, this is less identifiably a genre work than King's other books. It's neither horror nor fantasy, and, despite the title, it's not a western. There are elements of mystery, but what King has written is actually from a much older tradition: the yarn. One afternoon, on a Maine island, two crusty old newspapermen tell a cub reporter about their investigation into the unusual appearance and death of a stranger. Despite the potential pitfalls of writing the whole thing as a conversation (some readers will tire of the oldsters' knee-slapping and folksy expressions), this is powerful storytelling. King appears to be fumbling in his tackle box when, in fact, he's already slipped the hook into our cheeks and is pulling us inexorably toward the bemusing, maddening--let's just say the ending won't appeal to everyone--final page. If it's ironic that King delivered an experiment to people who celebrate the art of formula, that's OK. One of the reasons the pulps remain popular is that, behind those uniformly lurid painted covers, there always lurked a few writerly surprises. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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