Out on a lonely stretch of desert highway, there’s a cop. This cop is not the sort you’d ever want to meet, let alone so far from civilisation, but a bunch of unrelated travellers – a family, a couple, a writer and his road trip manager – are about to do so anyway, and find themselves entering a living nightmare in the aptly named town of Desperation.
A lot of this book feels incredibly cinematic, with the images of the open door of the abandoned RV, overturned bicycles, flashes of metal in the hot sun and the gathering carrion eaters staying long with you both throughout the book and afterwards, and the psychotic desert cop is a baddie straight out of the best nail-shredders. King expertly ratchets up the tension as the cop rounds up and brings his prisoners together, bringing them to a town that just oozes wrongness.
Said tension was then released somewhat too easily for me as the book progressed, we got to know our characters and just what was going on in Desperation – a mining town that has delved too deep, awakening something evil – with God becoming a major player in events. I find that I personally prefer when King shines a light on more the more banal evil that lurks within the hearts of men than when he deals with the great and cosmic, and the intercessions from God and discussions about the nature of God brought Desperation down for me from an outstanding read to just (!) a really good one.