IF IT BLEEDS, the title story, is the 3rd installment in the book, the longest and my favorite. It marks the return of Holly Gibney from the Mr. Mercedes series, which I loved, as well as appearing in The Outsider. Mr. King has created a wonderfully complicated, neurotic and smart character in Holly. This story is all hers and she shines. As does Jerome and his sister Barbara (also Mr. Mercedes), who I was thrilled to see again.
MR. HARRIGAN'S PHONE is the lead story and a close second behind If It Bleeds for my favorite. Mr. Harrigan, an old, wealthy man, hires a kid named Craig to read to him. The story examines their friendship, a cell phone Craig gives to Mr. Harrigan, a death, and a modern way of speaking to the dead. Well done.
THE LIFE OF CHUCK is a story in 3 parts and told backwards. The first chapter is set as the world is ending and billboards proclaiming CHARLES KRANTZ 39 GREAT YEARS! THANKS CHUCK! pop up all over and everywhere. Intriguing, creepy and well written, I was drawn in immediately.
The 2nd chapter introduces us to Chuck in his late 30's and his family, as they gather around his hospital bed.
The 3rd chapter gives us insight into Chuck from his childhood until adulthood. Still going strong and I'm anxious to find out how it all comes together.
But it never does. Not for me anyway. I don't usually read other reviews before writing my own, but I was feeling pretty silly that I couldn't understand the connection. Turns out, I wasn't alone and many were left scratching their heads and I was there with them.
THE RAT is the last story. Drew, a college professor and part-time author, leaves his wife and kids to travel to his family cabin deep in the Maine woods to write his breakthrough novel. During a raging snowstorm and while fighting the flu, he takes an elixir which is the only medicine available at the small country store. As the night goes on, Drew ends up saving a talking rat, which he ends up making a deadly deal with. More in line with a fable, complete with a moral at the end, it had elements of a psychological thriller and I enjoyed it.
Overall, a good summer read. Not the level of horror you may expect or want from Mr. King, but solid, creepy stories. 4 Stars.