Master storyteller Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) presents this gripping and remarkable New York Times bestselling crime novel about a damaged young man who embarks on an ill-advised kidnapping plot—a work as taut and riveting as anything he has ever written.
Once upon a time, a fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze on an Olivetti typewriter, then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 (“cancer of the pseudonym”), but this last gripping Bachman novel resurfaced after being hidden away for decades—an unforgettable crime story tinged with sadness and suspense.
Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., was always a small-time delinquent. None too bright either, thanks to the beatings he got as a kid. Then Blaze met George Rackley, a seasoned pro with a hundred cons and one big idea. The kidnapping should go off without a hitch, with George as the brains behind their dangerous scheme. But there's only one problem: by the time the deal goes down, Blaze's partner in crime is dead. Or is he?
Written circa 1973, this "trunk novel," as Bachman's double (aka Stephen King) refers to it in his self-deprecating foreword, lacks the drama and intensity of Carrie and the horror opuses that followed it. Still, this fifth Bachman book (after 1996's The Regulators) shows King fine-tuning his skill at making memorable characters out of simple salt-of-the-earth types. Clayton "Blaze" Blaisdell has fallen into a life of delinquency ever since his father's brutal abuse rendered him feebleminded. King alternates chapters recounting Blaze's past mistreatment at a series of Maine orphanages and foster homes with Blaze's current plans to follow through on a kidnapping scheme plotted by his recently murdered partner in crime, George Rackley. Blaze talks to George as though he's still there, and the conversations give the tale tension, with Blaze coming across as a pitiable and surprisingly sympathetic contrast to prickly George. Despite its predictability, this diverting soft-boiled crime novel reflects influences ranging from John Steinbeck to James M. Cain. Also included is a previously uncollected story, "Memory," the seed of King's forthcoming novel Duma Key.
Frightening and sad
Stephen King did a great job with this book, making Clayton “Blaze” Blasdeill a character you like and feel genuine sympathy for, even as he also becomes a character to fear because of his delusional frame of mind. The kidnapping of the baby boy and the question of his ultimate safety raises terrifying tension. A great read from Stephen King—a.k.a Richard Bachman!
Not his best.
This is a great book. Stephen King was such a great writer in his early days. I really loved this book. It’s very sad and very enjoyable. The title character is very sympathetic. His relationship with the baby he kidnaps is quite sweet, even though I hated seeing the baby not cared enough for and him being kidnapped in the first place. This is vintage Stephen King. A must read.