Thursday 11 February 2016

One Man's Opinion: BLAZE by STEPHEN KING writing as RICHARD BACHMAN

Clayton Blaisdell (Blaze US) is a big guy. There's a dent in his head. He's the kind of person you're going to remember if he commits a crime, so it's even more important than ever that he takes precautions before he goes to work. The only problem he has is that his brain capacity has been severely hampered ever since his father beat him to within an inch of his life many years earlier. Because of this, he has to rely upon his old friend George to keep him right. This would be fine if George weren't dead and if his advice didn't come in random bursts.

When we meet Blaze, he's down on his luck. The only way he can think of to get back onto his feet is to carry out the one big job that George had planned when he was still alive, the kidnapping of a baby from an extremely wealthy family. It's a pretty good plan at that, except that Blaze is out of cash and has made no preparations for the welcoming of a new baby into his life. 

The story splits into two parts at a fairly early point in the book. 

The first strand follows the impending kidnapping and the consequences of the attempt. It's a nicely played out tale that balances tension and action really well. It also carries a warm strand of humour that is very pleasing and had me laughing out loud on several occasions. 

The second part deals with Blaze's life in the institution in which he was brought up. This was really important to the book as it really alters the perspective on Blaze entirely. Instead of a loathsome kidnapper, he becomes a sympathetic character. The more I got to know him, the more I loved the guy. His heart's as big as his fist and circumstances have thwarted his bids for happiness at every turn. There's less humour here. The tones are somehow duller, yet the power they carry is all the more enhanced because of that. 

I'd compare this to another Stephen King novel, but I realised when I took this on that this is the first I've ever read (unless my memory is even worse than I think it is). What it did for me was to suggest that I'd love to read more. I also found myself rooting around on my shelves (unsuccessfully, I'm afraid) for my copy of Of Mice And Men. 

There is an introduction by Mr King, by the way. I started it, but abandoned it half-way through to get to the main course. I'm sure it's really interesting to his fans; to me his story did the talking that was necessary. 

Blaze was a terrific read and is the kind of story I'd recommend for a long commute - flowing material and plenty of hooks to keep you going. 

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