Master of horror Stephen King returns on Sept. 24 with the release of From a Buick 8, a gather-round-the-campfire tale of a sinister car. This time King transports us far from Maine back to the rural Pennsylvania of 1979. Through a series of flashbacks, 18-year-old Ned Wilcox, struggling with his father's death, picks apart the tangled web of events surrounding the horrible accident that ripped the elder Wilcox from his family. First, Ned must discover the secret inside State Police Troop D's Shed B: a vintage Buick 8 Roadmaster. It seems the Buick's owner disappeared at a service station, leaving behind the unusual vehicle, a doorway between this world and another. Troop D decided it would be better if John Q. Public never learned about the car and what it can do. After all, the first trooper on the scene vanished the same day, just like the car's mysterious driver.

As in earlier books like Cujo, plot is the driving force in this novel. This is a mature King, though, who gathers the voices of several characters to move the story, providing depth and structure to the straightforward narrative. The men (and one woman) of Troop D spin their saga in round-robin fashion for Ned, whose father was one of the original officers to discover the Buick, and the one who took the fiercest interest in its origins. Underlying themes of loyalty and generational bonding mesh flawlessly with an eagle-eyed examination of police procedure and culture. All these elements lead ultimately to the book's central tenet: Life is full of occurrences that shape us in unimaginable ways.

In an author's note, King says he dreamed up this smoothly told tale while driving from western Pennsylvania to New York, shortly before his 1999 accident. His description of the eerie similarities between his own near-fatal misfortune and the plot of From a Buick 8 may well raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Stephen King has scared Kelly Koepke since she was a teenager reading The Shining.

 

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