King enters ‘Black House”

Thirteen years ago, Detective Jack Sawyer appeared in Stephen King and Peter Straub’s “The Talisman.” The authors have joined forces once again to pen the newest adventures of the hero of their first collaboration.

“Black House” takes place 20 years after “The Talisman.” The journey begins in French Landing, Wis. All is not well: the town has been plagued by abductions and murders by a serial killer known only as the Fisherman.

The local police chief, Dale Gilbertson, has exhausted all of his resources except infamous detective Jack Sawyer. Gilbertson knows that Sawyer has the knowledge to capture the Fisherman and rescue Ty Marshall, the only young survivor. Only Sawyer knows that the strange occurrences run much deeper than a mere crime wave, and his uncovering of the case will lead the town into another world – a mysterious black house found deep in the woods on the outskirts of town.

Within the house is the entrance to what Sawyer calls the Territories and an evil so dark and hateful that it will take more than Sawyer alone to face the horrors. King and Straub have invented a new cast of characters including Henry Leyden, a blind disc jockey with many personalities, and Charles Burnside, an obnoxious geriatric who slips in and out of coherence.

While the family of the lost boy seems normal, the reader quickly learns appearances can be deceiving. Mother Judy Marshall was prone to violent outbursts once the town’s children started disappearing, and her condition only worsens after her son becomes one of them. Her knowledge of a land she calls Faraway leads Sawyer to believe that there is a connection between the mysterious events.

With “Black House,” King and Straub prove that they retain their status as masters of the craft, weaving together a plot with intricate details of small-town life. The rich description of the characters keeps them close to the reader’s sympathies. Straub and King’s narrative affords full view of the story’s action, offering equally clear views of the Territories and the real world. The authors make their transitions from one world to the next fully believable.

Fans will not be disappointed by King and Straub’s entertaining sequel, and new readers might just turn back the clock and look into “The Talisman.”

“Black House” is in stores Saturday.

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