Stephen King's "Dr. Sleep."

Stephen King’s “Dr. Sleep.”

While vacationing in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, I caught up on all the many magazines I had been meaning to read AND read two novels that were also on my “to read” list.

The first book I completed (in 2 days) was Stephen King’s “Dr. Sleep,” a continuation of the young boy Danny Torrance from “The Shining.” Dan Torrance is now middle-aged and called upon to aid a 12-year-old girl (Abra Stone), who also has the special power called “the Shining.”

The book held your interest and picked up quickly. Stephen King is a master of limning characters quickly, with small details like the tee shirt they wear or an expression they use, and he creates many characters that capture your interest. They are also characters for whom we will be rooting as an evil cult called The True Knot, led by the evil Top Hat wearing Rose, searches for small children with the same special power that Dan and Abra possess. No child is safe from the cult’s vampire-like tendencies. Our fear that the group will find Abra ratchets up the tension in the beginning and middle portions of the novel.
Towards the end, with all the astral projection and the emphasis on Dan’s skill at guiding the dying in hospice towards death, I began to become slightly queasy. This had more to do with some things going on in my own life with a hospice patient than with the book.
I remember thinking that the book is probably only the first that will focus on the female YA protagonist, Abra Stone.
I also was surprised to find a proofreading error on page 206 in the first paragraph of the “your/you’re” variety (“Like when you were eating breakfast, you’d wonder if your missing….”). It made me feel slightly better to realize that the most successful author on the planet, with the might of Simon & Schuster behind him, can have these simply errors (that Spellcheck will never find.)

J.K. Rawlings' "The Cuckoo's Calling."

J.K. Rawlings’ “The Cuckoo’s Calling.”

“The Cuckoo’s Calling:” This is the adult mystery that J.K. Rawlings wrote under the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith” until the publishers (Mulholland Books) realized that the book was not selling under the pseudonym, but would if people knew it was written by Harry Potter’s creator.

The main character in the novel is Cormoran Strike, a down-on-his-luck private eye with a fake leg from his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Cormoran’s personal life is complicated, as he is the bastard son of a famous man and his mother, a groupie, died under mysterious circumstances which Cormoran has never accepted as suicide.
It is, therefore, a bit hard to accept an assignment to investigate the apparent suicide of a beautiful model who fell to her death from her apartment balcony in Kentigern Gardens. The model, Lula Landry, is the adopted daughter of a rich society maven, and I couldn’t help but think of Rihanna when descriptions of the lovely girl were provided. I imagined that John C. Reilly would be a good fit to portray Cormoran, Rihanna as Lula and that the relationship between Lula and her rock star boyfriend was probably modeled on that of Kate Moss. The black rapper from America (Deebee Macc) sounded suspiciously like Kanye West (pre Kim Kardashian) and his sidekick was a Biggie Smalls sort.
Cormoran only takes the job in the first place because he knew Charlie Landry when they were classmates together in their youth. Charlie fell to his death in a quarry and Lula was adopted to fill the void created by his passing at a young age.

There is also Tony Landry, Lula’s uncle (brother to her adoptive mother) and Rochelle, a young black girl living in a homeless shelter that Lula befriends while trying to “find her roots.”
Cormoran has had a love/hate relationship with the beautiful Charlotte for years, and, in this book, his secretary Robin—although engaged to Matthew as the book opens—-seems to be headed towards becoming Cormoran’s replacement romance for the feckless Charlotte.
The plot is quite convoluted and intricate. Near the end, it takes about 10 pages just to explain all the ins-and-outs to the reader who has just struggled through it all. (And I haven’t even mentioned the venal Bestigui clan, who live in Lula’s apartment building and whose wife, Tansy, says she witnessed the fall.)

There are so many likely suspects posited that the author succeeds in keeping us guessing till the bitter end. I have to admit that I left the book for quite a while, however. This was not because it wasn’t interesting, but was because I was reading it aloud, in the car, to my spouse, and I didn’t want to read ahead without him.

However, when I finished “Dr. Sleep,” I had no choice but to finish the mystery of what happened to Lula Landry, whose nickname from her designer friend Guy Some, was “Cuckoo” (hence the title).
The first book I completed (“Dr. Sleep”) was so named because the adult Dan Torrance has the unique ability to assist the dying in hospice to shuffle off this mortal coil with less angst, and is thus called “Dr. Sleep” by his hospice colleagues.