Following a commercial flop with his debut novel, author Thad Beaumont begins writing violent crime stories featuring tough-guy Alexis Machine under the pseudonym George Stark. This seems to do the trick as Beaumont is massively successful. But the urge to return to his original dramatic style brings about the end of Stark. After a mock funeral for his alias is staged, those with a connection to Stark’s work are turning up dead. Is a vengeful fan behind the brutal killings or is George Stark himself taking revenge for his untimely demise?
Once again, I venture into Castle Rock, Maine for another of Uncle Stevie’s wild rides. The Dark Half is a good book yet not one of King’s more well-known ones, although I’d say it’s better than most of the stuff he’s put out in the last few years. I find this surprising because although it has its flaws, it’s still a pretty solid premise.
I didn’t much care for the main character, Thad Beaumont, but the book has a great supporting cast. Up to now, I’ve only really been familiar with Sheriff Alan Pangborn due to the new Castle Rock TV series, so it was interesting to see his introduction and watch him interact with a new set of characters. For whatever reason, I pictured Patrick Wilson playing this character even though he never has. Probably because I saw a photo of him in his state trooper gear from Fargo recently.
I thought a lot of the horror aspects were done quite well – the prologue was classic, over-the-top 80s King – and the suspense built around whether or not George was really doing the killing kept the pages flying. However, about three quarters of the way through the story was when I really started feeling the length of the book. There seemed to be a lot of padding, repeated scenes and dialogue. I really liked the idea, but I thought it could have worked better as a novella within one of King’s four story collections rather than a six hundred page paperback.
Also, Alexis Machine is a dumb name.