The Regulators by Richard Bachman

house-sized cowboy with drawn gun peers over roof of suburban homeThe Regulators, which Stephen King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, is an unnecessary companion to King’s novel Desperation, which he also published in 1996.

The Regulators opens on a hot day in July, 1996. A teenager is delivering the Shopper on Poplar Street in Wentworth, Ohio, when a red van rolls into town. Within minutes, paperboy Cary Ripton and a German Shepherd are dead at the hands of a shooter inside the van.

An autistic child, brainwashed by what he sees on TV, becomes central to the mayhem that’s about to unfold as residents of Poplar Street react to the senseless shootings.

Before the day is out, some residents of Poplar Street get killed.

Some find they have strengths they never knew they possessed.

All see and hear things that should change their lives forever if any of the characters were a believable person.

Bachman/King juggles bits pieces of fantasy and naturally occurring elements of human nature, keeping enough balls in the air to distract readers from paying attention to any one of them, and the insertion of news clippings, letters, and diary entries make The Regulators feel like notes for a novel rather than a finished work.

Read Desperation instead.

The Regulators by Richard Bachman [Stephen King]
Penguin Books. ©1996. 475 p.
1996 bestseller #5. My grade: D

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Dark Half (novel)

undistinguishable dark blurs are background for author and title name
Nothing’s clear here

The Dark Half is a Stephen King novel with all the creepy ambiance and nightmarish monsters for which King is justly famous.

And, like most King novels, at its core is a fairly common occurrence: Writing under an assumed name.

When novelist Thad Beaumont slammed into writer’s block, he occupied his time writing violent novels under the pen name George Stark. Stark’s name was on four very successful novels.

A dozen years later, in a mock ceremony captured in People magazine, Thad and his wife buried Stark beneath a tombstone inscribed “Not a Very Nice Guy.”

Stark’s readers are furious.

So is Stark.

The never-existent Stark is determined to use Thad as an instrument for writing his stories, just as Thad used Stark.

When the Beaumonts’ odd-jobs man is found murdered, Thad’s fingerprints are found on the man’s truck.

Sheriff Alan Pangborn thinks it’s an open-and-shut case, but until he interviews Thad, who has witnesses to the fact he was at home miles away when the murder occurred.

The Dark Half blends the mundane with bizarre facts about twins, adds a touch of Alfred Hitchcock, and winds up with the all-too-real possibility that the Beaumont’s marriage won’t survive.

It also leaves the question: How do novelists create their characters?

The Dark Half by Stephen King
Viking. ©1989. 431 p.
1989 bestseller #2; my grade: B

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni