With a few exceptions, I didn’t read any Stephen King books that came out from about 2000-2009 or so until past 2010 when I moved back south. This is one of the books I missed as it came out, and it’s a curious book. Ostensibly the takes place in two main threads, the present and the past. In the present we are watching Ned Wilcox, surviving son of dead Pennsylvania State Trooper, hanging out at his father’s former post and slowly working his way into becoming a trainee dispatcher. It’s also clear that he’s looking for answers and connections related to his father. In the weeks that follow, the question of the Buick out in the shed comes out. As he wears down his father’s friends at the station, they eventually tell him of the day the Buick showed up, how it became increasingly clear that the Buick was not in fact a Buick but some kind of portal through which some things (and people) disappear and some things appear. As both stories wind to the present, the lingering question of how this will connect to Ned’s father’s death creep in.
This book is relatively rich as a story about a young boy looking for meaning after the death of his father. These parts hold up well, and maybe in his recuperation (and given his past writing about baseball and sons) Stephen King began to get wistful, not so much different from his writing of Pet Semetary. The difference is that Pet Semetary is very good, and this book is not. The mold of the story is good, and the characters are well-rendered, but the novel is half-formed once we start trying to figure out why this is a novel about anything other than a son seeking answers about his father.