Like The Colorado Kid and JoyLand before it, Later is one of King’s Hard Crime Case releases – paperbacks made to look like pulp paperbacks with vibrant cover art (that doesn’t always match up to the story), that all come in on the short side for King, maybe about 250 pages.
The main reason that I don’t think this one was quite as successful as the other two is that this one takes place pretty close to now. The main character, Jamie, is a young man telling a story about his life in the early 2000s. Jamie plays Xbox and he has a cell phone that his mom tracks. He and his Professor friend try to figure out what’s going on by using Google and emailing each other. Which is all fine, because its life, but I just didn’t think it worked for the pulp style story it was trying to be. Why not put the story in the 1970s – King’s sweet spot – and have everyone have to go to the library?
Jamie lives with his mom, Tia, in a swanky apartment in NYC. She’s a single mom who works hard to manage her inherited publishing business, and they have a pretty nice and normal life. What’s not normal is that Jamie can see dead people. Yes, he tells Constant Reader, sort of like Haley Joel Osment. When his neighbor’s wife passes away, Jamie can see her and talk to her, and finds out that right before she had her stroke, she hid her diamond rings in the hall closet, which is how Jamie gets his mom to believe that he has this ability.
When Tia’s number one client dies before finishing the books he had been paid in advance for, Tia gets an idea – drive up to his house and have Jamie talk to him so that she can literally ghostwrite the book and save the company. Jamie and Tia are joined by Liz, Tia’s new “friend” who just so happens to be a cop, and is extremely doubtful of anything and everything Jamie and Liz are talking about.
It is clear from the first minute she appears on the page that Liz is not a good cop and that she is going to cause problems for Jamie down the line. Why not use Jamie to solve murders and other crimes? Who cares if it might cause damage to him mentally if she can put a good word in with the department? Yeah, Liz was a bad seed.
I had read a few reviews of this that danced around the fact that this book had a bonus plot line for Constant Readers. I’ll admit, I was hoping it was Dark Tower related. I mean, wouldn’t it have been awesome if Jamie’s mom had been Irene Tassenbaum and his out-of-the-picture dad was Roland? Or that he had somehow been involved with seeing Jake in New York City?
Sadly, the plot line was not from The Dark Tower. And I could have done without it. And I think the book could have done without it as well. But I just sort of ignored it and turned the page.
A pretty good little mystery-horror novel — Better than Blaze. Not as good as the Bill Hodges books — until the last five pages. WHY? Clearly Uncle Stevie still struggles with his endings. Why did the last five pages even need to happen?