How do they do it?
The book brings together four ‘long stories’, which once upon a time would have qualified as novels, and fans of King will not be disappointed by the macabre theme flowing through each of them: retribution.
The collection opens with the first person confession of Wilfred James, a farmer who decided, in 1922, to kill his wife, in order to prevent the sale of his pride and joy, the family farm. King takes the reader through a multitude of emotions in this story, including sympathy and disgust, to create a typically chilling tale.
While simple in its execution, 1922 is a fine example of King’s craft, as the reader is pulled through an emotional mangle somewhere between understanding and incredulity at the actions of main protagonist.
In the second story of the collection, entitled Big Driver King grapples with the difficult subject of rape. The principle character in this novella is Tess, who, after being raped and left for dead, seeks murderous retribution for herself and her fellow victims, with horrific ramifications.
In Fair Extension King takes us through a more peculiar set of circumstances: Streeter sells his soul in the hope of retribution for a long-standing grudge. In that time-honoured Faustian way, Streeter learns, too late, that the soul is a heavy price to pay. Too heavy.
Having opened this collection with a marriage gone wrong, King closes with more of the same, only the gender roles are reversed in A Good Marriage. Darcy’s husband has a terrible secret, which leads her down a terrible decision-making path.
You know for once I think the UK cover image is better than the US one - mind you I've not read any of the stories yet but I guess the cover design is pretty generic and used to create a mood rather than reflect a specific story.
RELATED - I am currently reading Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption from King's Dark Seasons so expect a review here later today.