I really enjoyed this novel. I love police procedural stories and this book had some of that but it was a little different because the main character is a retired detective. If anything that just made it more interesting. As usual, with a Stephen King novel, the characters were fantastically rendered and felt like acquaintances from real life by the time I was a few chapters in. One thing that made this book so cool was how different all the characters were from each other. Seeing people from opposite sides of the spectrum work together to solve a case was really cool. I won't elaborate so I don't spoil the story, but the makeup of the characters was really interesting and watching the ways they interacted really added a level of intrigue to the story.
The antagonist, or bad guy, in this novel was chilling. When you read his inner monologue you're glad you're not on the other end of his diabolical plans. He's scary because in his day to day interactions with people he's just a banal guy you wouldn't have a reason to remember. Then when he goes home at night, where he still lives with his mother, he makes plans. He and his mother have a relationship that was revolting to me. I'm sure this added to my discust towards this character. He's one of those bad guys you love to hate. Just as you're rooting for the good guys, you're rooting for the antagonist to get what's coming to him.
The romance in this book came off to me as authentic and original. It was between two somewhat unlikely characters. It adds a bit of joy to this fairly dark noir tale.
Without spoiling anything I will say that before the book is over not all of the important characters make it out alive. King pulls no punches here and the character's death does a nice job of making you that much more anxious more characters will die later in the story when the conflict and danger gets turned up a notch.
I've read a handful of King's older novels, many of the ones considered to be classics. I know to some people his writing suffered for many years as he struggled with alcohol and substance abuse. I'm here to tell you that every new Stephen King book I read is fantastic. He's back and I'm so glad he's still cranking them out. I've loved all of his new novels and the same holds true with this one.
The last thing I'll mention is that I listened to the audiobook version of this novel. It's narrated by Will Patton who is a phenomenal voice talent. I first heard him narrate when I listened to Doctor Sleep which is the sequel to The Shining. Patton really brought that book to life. I think he was a great pick for this book too because his voice is perfect for the main character who is a retired detective. He has that authentic gruff voice that really fit the protagonist. He delivers the book with such a great conversational read that you get pulled in right away. He's a great actor too, delivering lines of sensitive emotion, raw anger, and insane sociopath spot on. You believe right away when you hit play and Will starts telling you the story.
After finishing this book I found out it's to be the first in a trilogy. I'm thrilled. I can't wait to visit these characters again.