Posts Tagged ‘sense of menace’

The Dark Half by Stephen King

August 3, 2011

Author: Stephen King

Title: The Dark Half

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1989

Number of Pages: 431

Geographical Setting: Maine

Time Period: present time

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Thad Beaumont is a writer, a husband, and a father of twins. He has made many fans and big money writing gory horror novels under a pen name, George Stark. When a potential blackmailer threatens to reveal Stark’s identity, Thad decides to “kill” his alter ego and to start writing under his real name. After Thad makes a fake funeral for Stark, a serial killer starts murdering people in the fashion of Stark’s novels. The main suspect in these horrible crimes is Thad, since his fingerprints are all over the murder scenes.  As he realizes it is his own “dark half” to blame, the revenge seeking killer goes for Thad’s life. Although the horrifying killing spree takes place later in the story, the reader can feel the sense of menace from the first chapter, when teenage Thad’s brain tumor surgery reveals body parts of an undeveloped twin. This character-driven story is high in emotion as the reader feels for Thad, a nice family guy, and fears for his supposedly fictional sinister alter ego. Suspense, a mysterious villain, and an intriguing storyline make this book impossible to put down. Even those who find unexpectedly appearing graphic scenes of violence disturbing will keep reading this page-turner to find out what happens next.

Subject Headings: Horror fiction, Mystery fiction, American authors – fiction

Appeal: fast-paced, character driven, terrifying, emotional, sense of menace, unexplained phenomena, sympathetic protagonist, sinister antagonist, intriguing characters, graphic violence, serial killer, clever plotline, gripping, mysterious

3 terms that best describe this book: terrifying, fast-paced, intriguing characters

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Man with the Phantom Twin: Adventures of the Neuroscience and Human Nature by V.S. Ramachandran (his scientific book explains multiple phenomena of the human brain, a topic that was raised but never rationally explained in King’s novel)

The Monster of Florence by Douglas J. Preston (like King’s horror, this true crime story has a suspenseful, creepy, and dark tone; in both books there is an element of sleuthing for a brutal serial killer and accusation of the crime falls on the “good guys”)

Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms by Carmela Ciuraru (while Dark Half is about a writer whose pseudonym comes to life with horrible consequences, this true historical writing expands the topic of pen names – it describes multiple writers, their lives hidden under their pen names, and various consequences of their reveal)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Darkfall by Dean Koontz (both novels are fast paced, with suspenseful, menacing tone, and multiple scenes of explicit violence; like in King’s novel, there is a supernatural antagonist killing people, and attempts to catch him bring deadly threat)

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (like King’s novel this story is character-driven, creepy, suspenseful, and violent, featuring a serial killer; although satirical in nature, it resembles King’s concept of having in the brain a supernatural being that kills others)

The Stake by Richard Laymon (like Dark Half, this is a fast paced horror story with explicit violence; the main characters of both novels are horror writers and their writings in some ways come to life)

Name: Anna

Judge and Jury by James Patterson

July 25, 2011

Author: James Patterson

Title: Judge and Jury

Genre: Suspense

Legal Thriller

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 421

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: FBI agent Nick Pellisante after a long chase finally brought to the trial a mob godfather, Dominic Cavello. One of the jurors selected for the court case against Cavello is Andie DeGrasse, a single mom and jobless actress. She does not even want to serve her jury duty, and her destiny takes her way beyond that. As soon as the trial starts, things go horribly wrong. Cavello sends an assassin to put the bus with all jurors on fire, and then escapes. Nick with an unexpected partner goes for a deadly chase after Cavello. This story has multiple plot twists and it will keep the reader on the edge of the seat. Short chapters and witty language splattered with some humor will make it a fast and entertaining read. Fans of Suspense will appreciate the sense of menace as Cavello and his people take unpredictable actions.

Subject Headings: Mafia trials – New York – Fiction; Women jurors – Fiction; Organized crime – Fiction; Suspense fiction

Appeal: plot-driven, fast paced, suspenseful, entertaining, dramatic, humor, chase, tense, deadly threat, sympathetic protagonists, villains, sense of menace, short chapters, alternating points of view, plot twist, uneasy atmosphere, roller-coaster style, resolved ending

3 terms that best describe this book: fast paced, suspenseful, entertaining

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gotti: Rise and Fall by Jerry Capeci – while Cavello appears to be “the most vicious and powerful mobster since John Gotti” (, this book pictures the real Gotti and the New York organized crime; like in Patterson’s novel, bringing the mobster to justice is extremely challenging

A Trial by Jury by Graham D. Burnett – this true crime memoir of an ordinary citizen who serves as a juror on a New York’s murder trial explores in depth a situation in which Andie became involuntarily thrown

We’re Going to Win this Thing: The Shocking Frame-up of a Mafia Crime Buster by Lin DeVecchio – true story so unbelievable it reads like a fiction thriller; fans of Nick Pellisante may appreciate his efforts even more after reading a shocking story of an FBI agent framed for New York mafia crimes while trying to bring the mafia to justice

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Firm by John Grisham – like Judge and Jury it is a fast paced, plot-driven, and suspenseful legal thriller about the mafia chased by FBI

I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark – suspenseful, plot-driven page turner; the same setting – modern day New York

The Jury Master by Robert Dugoni – this Suspense/Legal thriller is fast paced, plot-driven, and with a sense of malice; like in Patterson’s novel the focus is more on non-stop action rather than legal details

Name: Anna Demitraszek