If It Bleeds

Scribner. May 2020. 448p. ISBN 9781982137977. $30. SUSPENSE
This collection of four novellas by King (Mr. Mercedes; The Institution) is a new outing with old friends, continuing the Bill Hodges and Outsider universe. In “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” eight-year-old Craig, a prodigious reader, is hired to read to Mr. Harrigan. A bond grows between the child and the octogenarian. When his friend dies, Craig mourns the loss and talks to his friend as though he were still alive. What if Mr. Harrigan responds? “The Life of Chuck” has middle school teacher Marty Anderson experiencing a rough day: Traffic is crazy, the likeness of some guy named Chuck is appearing everywhere, and the world is ending. In the title story, Holly Gibney, of the Finders Keepers agency (and Bill Hodges universe), investigates the bombing of a middle school. The fourth story, “Rat,” is that of author Drew, who is broadsided by an idea for a novel; all he has to do is get it on paper. His last three novels were never finished. Will he complete this one, and what will it cost him?
VERDICT Longtime readers and new King fans alike will love the fresh tales in this wonderful collection. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/19.]
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