Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Jeffrey DeMunn
Genre: Fiction (Maine / Murder Mystery / Journalists / Unsolved Mystery / Small Town)
Publisher/Publication Date: Hard Case Crime (10/4/2005) / Simon & Schuster Audio (9/26/2005)
Source: Personal copy (my wife's technically)
Did I finish?: I did, because my wife is relentless and wouldn't turn off the audiobook.
One-sentence summary: Two reporters regale their intern with their favorite unsolved mystery, a case involving a corpse from Colorado on the coast of rural Maine.
Do I like the cover?: Adore it -- although I don't think it looks anything like Stephanie, the reporter.
First line: After deciding he would get nothing of interest from the two old men who comprised the entire staff of The Weekly Islander, the feature writer from the Boston Globe took a look at his watch, remarked that he could just make the one-thirty ferry back to the mainland if he hurried, thanked them for their time, dropped some money on the tablecloth, weighted it down with the salt shaker so the stiffish onshore breeze wouldn't blow it away, and hurried down the stone steps from The Grey Gull's patio dining area toward Bay Street and the little town below.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, I think, if you want an unsolved mystery set very squarely in King's Maine.
Why did I get this book?: My wife owns everything King has written, and she's been desperate to get me to read this one.
Review: My wife, an avid King fan, has been desperate for me to read this book, and one weekend, when faced with about twenty hours of painting, we listened to this.
It's been a month since listening to this, and I'm struggling to remember details or anything more specific than 'it was okay'. I'm not sure if that's because I was painting while we were listening to this -- thus, I wasn't wholly engaged -- or if I really need to hold a book in my hands to be totally absorbed. I remember the sketchiest details, and the feeling of being moderately interested.
The focus of this story really is on the unsolved mystery and the allure of a truly baffling case. As someone who struggles with ambiguity, I found the story maddening at times -- just freakin' tell me what happened! -- but I also appreciated the tension that was created by not being sure. Stephanie's two mentors, the crusty seasoned reporters at The Weekly Islander, were endearingly -- and realistically -- portrayed by Jeffrey DeMunn, who manages a Maine accent well. I'd listen to them tell stories all day. Stephanie was a flat foil who admired the two men, aspired a bit, and did some problem solving.
I think this was the first original work for the Hard Case Crime publishers (I believe up until this one, they were reprinting older books). While this doesn't have the delicious violence and sexiness I've gotten from their other offerings, this short piece certainly reminds me of other crime short fiction from pulp-y greats.