Hard Case Crime’s QUARRY By Max Allan Collins Hits Hard

Hard Case Crime’s QUARRY By Max Allan Collins Hits Hard

Hard Case Crime’s QUARRY by Max Allan Collins hits hard, and that is whether you use the large paperback to ‘interrogate,’ or merely to read the first brilliant tale of the assassin Quarry.

Max Allan Collins is the author of The Road To Perdition, and has many brilliant series, including two of my personal favorites: the Nathan Heller series of hard boiled historical fiction and the Quarry series.

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In Quarry, the writing is truly inspired in both the visceral characters, the phenomenal pacing, and the sharp-edged language.

The flat-out villainous protagonist might have a little of the ‘hero’ in anti-hero in him . . . or he might not.

The innovative character and story make for something special, which is why Hard Case Crime decided to republish the series, after 30 years, in a gorgeous large paperback small press edition with a painted cover by legendary artist Robert McGinnis.

The following book review will feature both an in-depth look at the book, Quarry, and then an examination of the Hard Case Crime treatment of Collins’ tale.

Quarry: the following book review will be *Spoiler-free, as the plot reveals are vital to the story, so we omitted them.

Hard Case Crime, charles ardai, pulp fiction, noir, QUARRY, Max Allan Collins, robert McGinnis

Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.


From Hardcasecrime.com:

Paperback
Published in October 2015 by Hard Case Crime

THIS IS IT—WHERE QUARRY’S STORY ALL BEGAN.
AND ANOTHER LIFE ENDED.


The assignment was simple: stake out the man’s home and kill him. Easy work for a professional like Quarry. But when things go horribly wrong, Quarry finds himself with a new mission: learn who hired him, and make the bastard pay.

NOW A CINEMAX TELEVISION SERIES!

 

The longest-running series from Max Allan Collins, author of Road to Perdition, and the first ever to feature a hitman as the main character, the Quarry novels tell the story of a paid assassin with a rebellious streak and an unlikely taste for justice. Once a Marine sniper, Quarry found a new home stateside with a group of contract killers. But some men aren’t made for taking orders—and when Quarry strikes off on his own, god help the man on the other side of his nine-millimeter…

  • QUARRY comes to Cinemax in Fall 2015
  • The original Quarry novels return to bookstores for the first time in 30 years
  • Featuring cover paintings by the legendary Robert McGinnis

Quarry’s tale is truly ground-breaking.

To Quarry, his work with contract killers, and especially dealing with a man called the Broker who he has relied on for finding him work and payment is all just part of a “pain-in-the-ass job.”

Quarry was a sniper in the Vietnam War who has become a hit-man for hire as he continues to try to acclimate to the country he has returned home to.

What this does is make for someone with possible PTSD who does not like to play with others, unless she is lonely for a night, and his inability to interact with others has limited his scope of work.

He sees the killing, lying, and all that comes with it, and acting without the least bit of empathy, as part of his journey.

He wants to go on living, to go on making money killing, and to not be screwed over, because someone is always trying to screw him over, jeopardizing his money or his life.

The pace is furiously frantic at the start of the book and in a few pages there is the heinous threatening to murder a priest at an airport, or is he really a priest, and it makes its mark on the reader immediately.

The pacing will vary as the present situation of betrayal slows things down, and Quarry thinks out his next moves.

So as a reader you get to catch your breath and become a part of the observations and thoughts of Quarry.

The only gripe I have with the novel, if you can call it a gripe, is that the characters are so interesting I wish there were a few more of them.

Quarry, his too often sauced part-time partner in crime, the Broker, and of course, the dames, are all written so well … I want more.

But I guess that is why there are sequels!

Hard Case Crime, charles ardai, pulp fiction, noir, QUARRY, Max Allan Collins, robert McGinnis

Quarry’s boss the Broker’s webs of crime, and a change in protocol for Quarry’s job make for an interesting bit of mystery.

The world is utterly real and grimy, as is the rough speech of the man known only as Quarry, and even the women he tries to consume for a night’s pleasure do not get much sympathy from him.

The psychopath in Quarry and the morals that jump out when you least expect them are just as mysterious and engrossing as the story itself.

It is easy to get lost in Quarry’s world and the pages leap bye as your stomach does somersaults.

All of the hard-boiled noir in Quarry cuts the reader deep, as Quarry the man is tortured by his brain and throes of violence throughout the book.

This kicks off a truly remarkable series brilliantly.

Hard Case Crime brings back Quarry in a big badass paperback.

The dime paperbacks of pulp fiction, hard-boiled detective fiction, great sci-fi and fantasy and horror spawned so many incredible tales and all for an affordable price and in a format that was easily taken anywhere.

Hard Case Crime was created by Charles Ardai and Max Phillips, and their vision was to relaunch another golden paperback era with great tales, but in a slightly bigger format to make great use of the cover art that has been fantastic for at least eighty years of mass market books.

So, the small press Hard Case Crime was founded and for the Quarry series, for example, the great Robert McGinnis of James Bond art infamy was brought in to make stunning cover portraits that grace the 5+ inches x 8+ inches books.

Sometimes Hard Case Crime creates hardcovers and limited editions as well.

At their core, they have a unique vision, and I will let them tell it:

From World War II through the 1960s, paperback crime novels were one of the fastest-selling categories in book publishing. Millions of readers snapped up hundreds of millions of books by well-known authors like Erle Stanley Gardner and Mickey Spillane, as well as by promising young newcomers like Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake. These inexpensive, pocket-sized novels captured the public’s imagination with jaw-dropping cover paintings and bare-knuckled prose that grabbed you by the collar with the first sentence and held you until the last page. No one had published books like that in years.

Until we came along. [HardCaseCrime.com]

Unlike the often a quarter inch of thick paperbacks of yesteryear, Quarry has 271 pages and weight to it – not a phonebook’s heft, but it feels good in the hand.

The old-fashioned design of HCC’s Quarry is truly perfect!

The alluring bombshell on the bed looks through you from the cover.

Max Allan Collins’ weather-beaten killer of killers, Quarry is even added to the cover in black and white adding the right feel to the embodied noir.

From the font, the blurb on the back cover, and the feel of the paper, the quality of the Hard Case Crime publication of Quarry is enough to make one fall in love . . . with pain.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


About The Author From MaxAllanCollins.com:

MAX ALLAN COLLINS was hailed in 2004 by Publisher’s Weekly as “a new breed of writer.” A frequent Mystery Writers of America “Edgar” nominee in both fiction and non-fiction categories, he has earned an unprecedented eighteen Private Eye Writers of America “Shamus” nominations, winning for his Nathan Heller novels, True Detective (1983) and Stolen Away (1991), receiving the PWA life achievement award, the Eye, in 2007. The first Heller in almost a decade, the Marilyn Monroe-oriented Bye Bye, Baby (2011), will be followed in 2012 by Target Lancer, the long-promised JFK Heller novel.

His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig, directed by Sam Mendes. It was followed by two acclaimed prose sequels, Road to Purgatory (2004) and Road to Paradise (2005), and a graphic novel sequel, Return to Perdition (2011). He has written a number of innovative suspense series, including Nolan (the author’s first series, about a professional thief), Quarry (the first series about a hired killer), and Eliot Ness (four novels about the famous real-life Untouchable’s Cleveland years). He is completing a number of “Mike Hammer” novels begun by the late Mickey Spillane, with whom Collins did many projects; the fourth of these, Lady Go, Die!, was published in 2012.

[http://www.maxallancollins.com/max/]


P.S. If You Want To Know A Little More About How The Forgotten Fiction Is Different & Our Mission . . .

We are really trying to achieve two main goals here:

  1. To bolster every author who puts out a work of fiction long after the initial buzz that accompanied its release. This is something that is usually left to an expensive public relations manager or company and even with all of their powers of marketing / PR are limited in where they can place the book months after its launch. This includes limited edition and small press publications, like Suntup Editions, that are also reviewed for their physical beauty, as well as the work’s literary art and often illustrations, so long as the initial work has been out 60 days.
  2. We love books of fiction! And as readers we have too little time to read ALL of the books that fall onto our tentative To-Read List. The Forgotten Fiction hopes that with our Yea or Nay stamp, we can definitively give our unbiased opinion to you as a recommendation that may or may not move a book from the stack to your Must-Read List.

To Read More Details On Our Process Go To The About Page Here.

Want To Buy The Book from a local bookseller? Click Away!

Hard Case Crime, charles ardai, pulp fiction, noir, QUARRY, Max Allan Collins, robert McGinnis

“Hard Case Crime’s QUARRY By Max Allan Collins Hits Hard” was written by R.J. Huneke.

Ania Ahlborn’s Brother Astounds In Limited Suntup Editions

Ania Ahlborn’s Brother Astounds In Limited Suntup Editions

Ania Ahlborn’s Brother astounds in limited Suntup Editions, and both the visceral, chilling work of horror and the incredible physical manifestation of the book from Suntup are reviewed here.

A short summation of the book review of Brother is that it is a brilliant novel and work of art.

And Suntup Editions crafted it into palpable art for book lovers to grasp in-hand.

Few tales really grab you, wringing your stomach repeatedly, like Brother does.

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Here is the story synopsis as seen on Suntup Editions’ website, Suntup.press, and the review continues below:


Synopsis:

Brother is the terrifying tale of a family’s disturbing traditions, and of one brother’s determination to break free from all he has ever known. In a crooked farmhouse off the beaten path and miles away from civilization live the Morrows. A band of eccentric recluses, the family keeps to themselves so as not to be questioned by local police when girls go missing from the side of the highway. But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow is different. He derives no pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees.

Michael pines for a life of normalcy and to see a world beyond that of West Virginia. In the nearby town of Dahlia, Michael meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop. He is immediately smitten, but his family is all too eager to remind him of the monster he is.

Hailed by critics as “impossible to put down,” Ahlborn delivers all the guilt, guts, and gore of family drama as Michael fights to attain the life he longs for. [credit: Suntup.press]


Both the story itself and the hardcover books are inspired.

From the opening screams, and the lack of surprise at those screams, Brother has you.

Ania Ahlborn’s Brother transcends all kinds of fiction genre labels, as horror, suspense, psychological thriller, and gore converge, and that is part of what makes this work so damn good.

Ahlborn seizes on the psyche of nineteen-year-old protagonist, Michael Morrow, to tell her bone-chilling tale, and he is utterly compelling.

Michael is a walking dichotomy: he is both full of dread and hope, seemingly gold of heart and yet a part of humanity at its most hideous; his brother Reb takes jabs at Michael being slow in the uptake throughout the book and yet Michael shows signs of swift insightfulness; he is a romantic at heart and extremely naïve, despite seeing atrocities the likes of which few can imagine in their nightmares and the self-hatred he has for being a part of them.

The setting is the 1980’s in the rural wooded country of West Virginia, and the fervent characters that live there are primarily seen from the point of view of Michael Morrow.

And seeing through that lens makes for an endlessly intriguing, albeit disturbing, voyage.

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Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane.

*SPOILER WARNING*

You only have to start the book to find yourself jumping at the sound of Mama’s voice.

Michael is woken to the sounds of a young woman in distress, but what is immediately striking is that it is the sound that it is alarming to him.

He abhors the sound, but he is also so familiar with it that he is numb to the frantic plea.

The gravity of the future murder is there, and he is upset but oddly removed from her, even as he feels for the young woman’s plight.

Michael more bemoans the fact that he needs to be ready to rise from his bed in the middle of the night and do Mama Morrow’s bidding.

fine press, small press, suntup editions, brother, Ania Ahlborn, Paul Suntup, Suntup, book review, book reviews

Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane.

When the young woman gets loose and flees through the trees, trying desperately to escape, you cannot help to get out of breath yourself as the vivid view from under the trees and the inner monologue of Michael draw you in.

He is the fastest runner among the Morrows, and so he must do as his adopted family commands: catch the girl so Mama can have her way with the young woman before she is literally butchered so the Morrows can make steaks and other things from her.

Michael does not want to be a part of it.

But he is so frightened of what Mama will do if he does not comply, he cannot see that he has any option but to obey.

He cleans up afterward and slices up and stores the cuts of meat.

It is as it has always been at his adopted family’s farmhouse.

The Morrows saved him from an abandoned home, and he was put into the keeping of his older brother who likes to be called Rebel, or Reb.

Reb has bullied Michael for so long, incessantly, that the reader jumps whenever Reb looks Michael’s way or says anything.

The brother terrifies him to the point of paranoia that is justified and the verbal abuse is truly just the smallest glimpse into the wickedness that the eldest son of the longtime cannibalistic family, the Morrows, brings to the story.

As Michael’s brother mixes truths and lies and starts to take his little brother to meet girls – not to scout for more victims, but to get them both dates – the horror of a twisting narrative full of insanely painful and blood-spattered experiences warps the psychological reality of a young man yearning for normalcy.

One microcosm of beauty from this story comes as a girl that Michael likes lends him a record of The Cure from the store she works at, and when he listens to it his entire soul erupts in happiness and his mind opens as it has never done before.

And then things go horribly, horribly wrong as his sister begins to dance and loses control.

*SPOILERS END HERE*

The grit in the writing is so real your hands feel scraped as you put the book down.

To take such a narrative to ever-increasing emotional highs and lows over the course of a detailed terrain, a world built to entrap the reader in its dangerous twists, is sensational.

This book is not for those who are squeamish at the sight of blood, and be warned you may find yourself choked up, nauseous, cheering, and crying all within a short span while reading.

For fiction fans, and in particular horror fans, you may have a new favorite book and author on your hands.

Brother feels as though it really happened, and that scares the hell out of me.

There is no escape from one’s brother . . . Or is there? But the cost . . .

Suntup Editions Numbered State Of Brother Is One Of The Closest Examples Of A Physical Book Possessed By A Story

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While I am sure the Suntup Editions lettered edition of Brother by Ania Ahlborn is also a fantastic work of art that emanates the dark tale, this review now shifts its focus to the fine press signed and numbered state.

What Paul Suntup has conjured for Brother is nothing short of remarkable.

The cover is like a fine cigar wrapper, smooth and yet full of a crinkly texture and its colors of brown and black produce a one of a kind effect for each book.

I have never held anything like this book in my hand!

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Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane.

The cover boards were constructed by Andrea Peterson, and each is formed via a custom handmade Walnut rag cotton paper has been coated with black walnut dye from the trees of the print artist’s own homestead.

Some softening and shellac seal the walnut and then standing bright amongst the deep tones are the title and author’s name in two hits of foil stamping.

I treasure this book.

The slipcase is heavy, hard, like acacia hardwood, and not only protects but beautifully represents the toughness from the work it encompasses.

Moving to within the pages, the endsheets are Hahnemühle Bugra and have a great feel to the palm and the paper is off-white and also excellent in the hand.

On top of the finest book design a fine press can deliver – from the chapter headings to the font and all of it – Brother features six full-color illustrations by World Fantasy Award winner Samuel Araya.

And these images conjure up a surrealistic quality that is unique and combines the weird beauty with the horrific intensity of Brother.

I cannot understate two things here:

The cover alone seems to project the novel within and is a special rare book collectors will pine over.

Two: because Suntup Editions decided to give a great book that had only previously been available in paperback a hardback en masse there were 500 copies made and signed of the numbered state of Brother and amazingly enough, because most of Suntup’s numbered books are limited to 250 or less, there are a few copies still available for sale here: https://suntup.press/brother.

Since nearly all of Suntup’s books have sold out, and most do at the hour of pre-sale (the last in less than three minutes), this fantastic edition of Brother is an anomaly ripe for the taking.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read BROTHER! And if you can read the Suntup Editions numbered state)

Here is an unboxing video done by our local professional unboxer Jeff Terry if you want to get a feel for what it is like to open up A Suntup Editions box and behold Brother in HD video:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania Ahlborn has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and morbid side of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from a large wooded cemetery, where she’d spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so everyone had their equal share.

Ania’s first novel, Seed, was self-published. It clawed its way up the Amazon charts to the number one horror spot, earning her a multi-book deal and a key to the kingdom of the macabre. Eight years later, she has published ten titles. Her work has been lauded by the likes of Publishers Weekly, New York Daily News, and The New York Times. [credit: Suntup.press]

www.aniaahlborn.com


Illustration © 2019 by Samuel Araya. Brother Limited Editions © 2019 by Suntup Editions*. Brother © 2015 by Ania Ahlborn. Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane as credited in captions; the unboxing video is by Jeff Terry; the remaining photography is by R.J. Huneke. Read more about The Contributors to the review article here. *[BROTHER Suntup Editions First Edition Release Date: January 2020; the novel Brother was originally published in paperback in 2015.]


P.S. If You Want To Know A Little More About How The Forgotten Fiction Is Different & Our Mission . . .

We are really trying to achieve two main goals here:

  1. To bolster every author who puts out a work of fiction long after the initial buzz that accompanied its release. This is something that is usually left to an expensive public relations manager or company and even with all of their powers of marketing / PR are limited in where they can place the book months after its launch. This includes limited edition and small press publications, like Suntup Editions, that are also reviewed for their physical beauty, as well as the work’s literary art and often illustrations, so long as the initial work has been out 60 days.
  2. We love books of fiction! And as readers we have too little time to read ALL of the books that fall onto our tentative To-Read List. The Forgotten Fiction hopes that with our Yea or Nay stamp, we can definitively give our unbiased opinion to you as a recommendation that may or may not move a book from the stack to your Must-Read List.

To Read More Details On Our Process Go To The About Page Here.

“Ania Ahlborn’s Brother Astounds In Limited Suntup Editions” was written by R.J. Huneke for The Forgotten Fiction.

 

Book Review The Gap: Fort Indiantown By John Witherow Soars

Book Review The Gap: Fort Indiantown By John Witherow Soars

Book Review The Gap: Fort Indiantown by John Witherow soars to extraordinary heights as an impactful work of historical fiction.

historical fiction, John Witherow, The Gap: Fort Indiantown

The Gap: Fort Indiantown is a visceral tale invoking the love of flying helicopters and the sense of life’s adventure pitted against the horrors of war in two places: Vietnam and the ‘War On Drugs.’

Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.


From Goodreads:

The Gap: Fort Indiantown

Formats: eBook, Paperback

Publisher: Pentian

First Edition Release Date: March, 2019

Synopsis:

To fly.

A childhood fantasy fulfilled, a lifelong goal accomplished.

Fresh from rotary-wing flight school, 22-year-old Lieutenant Mark Ashford arrives for his first duty assignment at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, wanting nothing more than to master the art of flight. But he learns quickly that he’s in the awkward position of overseeing pilots with vastly superior skills and experience. Mark is persistently thwarted by one of these men―Vietnam veteran Nick Trent―who displays no regard for authority or convention, or even for Mark’s own personal safety. Resolved to learn more about his belligerent subordinate, Mark uncovers a decades-old secret from the Vietnam War―a brutal helicopter assault on innocent villagers. At the same time, he is tasked with supporting the DEA with aerial reconnaissance in search of a hidden cache of marijuana. Mark befriends a 16-year-old boy conscripted by the growers into the illicit venture. As he struggles to prevent the boy from drifting deeper into the crevices of the drug world, Mark is torn by his conflicting allegiances and risks his dream of becoming a master pilot.

THE GAP is a coming-of-age story that poses questions about the wisdom of the current drug war while employing themes from another lost war.

Notes:

Page Count: 518

About The Author: John Witherow is a former platoon leader and helicopter pilot of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and an attorney sensitive to the challenges of the American criminal justice system. He lives in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Wendi, who is also an avid reader. 


The following article on The Gap: Fort Indiantown is *Spoiler-ful*, but any spoilers will be limited to vague references of the plot.

From the opening lines, John Witherow grips readers tightly with a tale of innocent life, ignorant of war, suffering a harsh fate.

It is clear the characters feel with such emotion that it breaks them down at times.

And the dreadful scenario of a small village in Vietnam, enveloped by the Vietnam War, is written from such a unique point of view that the poetical beauty of the setting directly opposes the short, stark results that leave the reader rattled.

historical fiction, John Witherow, The Gap: Fort Indiantown

Witherow reveals the dichotomy of war, from the ground, in just a few pages.

The novel shifts from the Vietnam War to June 20, 1990 and young Second Lieutenant Ashford arriving to take command as an Army National Guard platoon leader and helicopter pilot at Muir Army Airfield in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

He is many years younger than his contentious fellow platoon members.

The dialogue is utterly realistic and shapes the readers’ impression of each character nicely so that you can hear their voices as they grapple with their new, young, unwanted boss.

Each character has their own past that is, for the veterans, irrevocably tied to the war they participated in.

And so the present is not exclusive from the past but molded by it in myriad ways.

The contemporary examination of the Vietnam Veterans who have gotten caught up in drugs and the ongoing war in the US on drugs, highlights much of the concerns and damage caused by the ‘War On Drugs’ itself and the many nuances in the laws that are worth examining for their impact of thousands, if not millions of lives.

Justice is not depicted as clear cut in The Gap: Fort Indiantown.

Often, it muddies the waters surrounding the lives of those that have no choice but to continue living on and face laws that are often as unclear as the orders that were carried out in the Vietnam War, despite the sense of morality that is felt in the text.

As the protagonist Lt. Ashford uncovers evidence of a horrid massacre that occurred at the hands of US armed forces in Vietnam, the already intriguing read becomes enamoring.

The Gap: Fort Indiantown is an innovative and powerful work of historical fiction.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Shop your local indie bookstore for The Gap: Fort Indiantown

P.S. If You Want To Know A Little More About How The Forgotten Fiction Is Different & Our Mission . . .

We are really trying to achieve two main goals here:

  1. To bolster every author who puts out a work of fiction long after the initial buzz that accompanied its release. This is something that is usually left to an expensive public relations manager or company and even with all of their powers of marketing / PR are limited in where they can place the book months after its launch. This includes limited edition and small press publications, like Suntup Editions, that are also reviewed for their physical beauty, as well as the work’s literary art and often illustrations, so long as the initial work has been out 60 days.
  2. We love books of fiction! And as readers we have too little time to read ALL of the books that fall onto our tentative To-Read List. The Forgotten Fiction hopes that with our Yea or Nay stamp, we can definitively give our unbiased opinion to you as a recommendation that may or may not move a book from the stack to your Must-Read List.

To Read More Details On Our Process Go To The About Page Here.

 

“Book Review The Gap: Fort Indiantown By John Witherow Soars” was written by R.J. Huneke for The Forgotten Fiction.

Book Review: The Institute Is One Of Stephen King’s Best

Book Review: The Institute Is One Of Stephen King’s Best

Book Review: The Institute is one of Stephen King’s best, and that is saying something among the 60+ novels and myriad works of art he has created.

Choosing a novel for the inaugural The Forgotten Fiction book review was tough.

But The Institute by Stephen King is truly a remarkable work of fiction that resonates with the Constant Reader, and I felt it was a great recent work to highlight in our review kick-off.

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In The Institute, King’s story-telling is poignant, his characters – and many of them, at that – are utterly real and visceral.

PLEASE NOTE: The following book review is *SPOILER FREE* and discussion of the plot is tread upon lightly for the sake of readers that have not yet opened the book.

The Institute sheds labels and stands alone as a tightly woven work of suspenseful fiction.

Here is the story synopsis from Sai King, and the review continues below it.


From StephenKing.com:

The Institute

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

First Edition Release Date: September, 2019

Synopsis:

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

Notes:

On Sale: September 10th, 2019

Page Count: 576


The horror within The Institute certainly grips you.

But this is not strictly a book of ‘horror,’ though there are many horrific things depicted therein.

Rather the book is parts thriller and science fiction, and like many of the author’s books that have been labeled ‘horror,’ it a cross-genre work at its heart.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

The story contains a number of truly wicked and unsettling depictions of humanity, including the Nazi-like experimentation on children and young adults with psychic abilities.

But there is also a remarkable resilience and a compassion of human character in the tale too.

Overcoming the odds while remaining a morally-centered young person may or may not be possible for the likes of Luke Ellis and company.

The protagonist Luke is twelve-years-old.

From his experiences as an extremely bright kid that is ever seeking mental challenges to his courageous new best friend under the dire circumstances of imprisonment, Kalisha, to the good cop driven off the job, Tim, all stand apart in myriad ways.

And then there is ten-year-old Avery Dixon who is much younger than the majority of teenagers with telekinetic and psychic powers that have unwantonly been abducted and then inducted into the place they all refer to simply as the Institute.

For a boy to go through being separated from his parents and kidnapped and then tested upon, such atrocities, such utter emotional devastation, as does Avery, it pulls at and tightens the chest with anxiety for this kid as the story unfolds.

Numerous surprises occur in the plot and they often catch the prisoners in the Institute off guard, to say the least.

You feel for the characters in the book, and you grow to utterly despise most of the ones that are working for The Institute.

Few people have ever creeped me out like Mrs. Sigsby, or her remote, soft-spoken boss.

The troop of doctors appear to be enjoying their work with human lab rats and the attendants are all very aware that they have participated in the kidnapping and torturing of children.

The labs, the Institute itself, becomes one of the most impactful characters in the work.

The book’s setting largely takes place inside a hidden laboratory facility with multiple buildings and prison-like security that is hidden in an isolated forest area in Maine.

It is a whole other level of creepy, in terms of both the psychological elements in the surroundings, from retro posters hinting at the age of the place and their consistently warped messages, and the feel of the old-time secret underground cold war lab that has survived in the 21st century.

And the methods for getting the children to comply with the Institute’s rules and orders, carrot and stick methods, would be heinous if they were done to adults. Yet they are being done to kids.

You can feel the heavy cement of the compound’s outer walls as if they were rough under your hand.

It is truly a fortress meant to prevent kids from escaping and to prevent them from being found.

Readers grow to hate the Institute, to hate that god-awful place, just as the characters do.

As Sai King says, the characters come to life and choose their path, making the story.

The Institute even has an air of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer adventuring to it, though this is bleaker in some ways than Mark Twain’s classics.

For one thing, the protagonist Luke Ellis will almost surely experience PTSD the likes of which Tom and Huck could not have ever fathomed.

I see The Institute as a story tied to a King masterpiece, Firestarter, though there are stark differences between the two.

Firestarter has been a great influence on pop culture, and especially the Netflix show Stranger Things, and I would not be surprised if The Institute becomes another great influencer as time goes on.

The Institute is a gem of a tale!

To say Stephen King is a prolific writer, is a given, but his writing is phenomenal.

There is no one like Stephen King.

That is not to say that all of his books are favorites of mine, don’t murder me Constant Readers, but I do appreciate all of his works, his top-notch level of writing, the fully-fleshed innumerable characters he creates, and the master storytelling, even in those tales that do not resonate as strongly with me.

And many of his books are among my favorite works of literature, of all-time, and The Institute has become one of these, just as Firestarter is.

And as we head further into 2020’s Coronavirus social distancing self-quarantines with more reading time on our hands, anyone who has not given this book a read, or a re-read, may want to peruse this Spoiler-Free book review and feel inspired to read the newest (from 2019) from the author of The Stand.

At over sixty novels, The Institute proves Stephen King is still at his best.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)

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P.S. If You Want To Know A Little More About How The Forgotten Fiction Is Different & Our Mission . . .

We are really trying to achieve two main goals here:

  1. To bolster every author who puts out a work of fiction long after the initial buzz that accompanied its release. This is something that is usually left to an expensive public relations manager or company and even with all of their powers of marketing / PR are limited in where they can place the book months after its launch. This includes limited edition and small press publications, like Suntup Editions, that are also reviewed for their physical beauty, as well as the work’s literary art and often illustrations, so long as the initial work has been out 60 days.
  2. We love books of fiction! And as readers we have too little time to read ALL of the books that fall onto our tentative To-Read List. The Forgotten Fiction hopes that with our Yea or Nay stamp, we can definitively give our unbiased opinion to you as a recommendation that may or may not move a book from the stack to your Must-Read List.

To Read More Details On Our Process Go To The About Page Here.

 

“Book Review: The Institute is one of Stephen King’s best” was written by R.J. Huneke for The Forgotten Fiction.