#FridayReads 2021-08-06 ‘Billy Summers’ and ‘As Good As Dead’

This is one of those weeks when I take the time to acknowledge how fortunate I am to be able to afford to buy new books. I’ve bought two of them, both published this week.

The first is the lastest Stephen King. It’s his eighty-third book and I have great hopes for it. The second is the final book in Holly Jackson’s young adult trilogy which started back in 2019 with ‘A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder’.

I’m going to escape the weather, forecast to be cloudy, wet and damp, and inhabit the imaginary landscapes of two authors that I know I’ll enjoy.

‘Billy Summers’ by Stephen King (2021)

The Stephen King books that I anticipate the most are the ones where he tones down or leaves behind altogether, the horror genre and lets himself loose on all the other possibilities out there. True, there’s usually still something out of the ordinary in the mix, as in ‘Later’ or ‘Joyland‘ or ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon‘ but the focus of the story isn’t to scrape fingers of fear down the blackboard of my imagination.

‘Billy Summers’ seems to be one of those kinds of books. It’s a thriller with the kind of story we’ve all heard before: a hitman trying to leave his past behind after one last job, which of course goes badly wrong, but I know Stephen King will add his own twist to it, with strong characters, a small-town setting and a few surprises along the way.

‘As Good As Dead’ by Holly Jackson (2021)

When I read Holly Jackson’s first book, ‘A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, in which bright, independent, highly organised Pippa, in her final year at school and planning to go on to Cambridge, uses her EPQ project to investigate the alleged murder and suicide, five years earlier, of two kids from her school, I was impressed by the innovative storytelling techniques, the easy-to-believe in characters and the twisty but credible plot. I could see why it won awards.

When the sequel ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’ came out last year, I wasn’t sure that she’d be able to match the first book, once the storytelling technique was no longer novel. Holly Jackson managed to produce a second remarkable book. She avoided writing another version of the first book but with a different puzzle to solve. She kept the same characters in the same location but she let them grow. Made them grow, actually. She replaced the school project format with a podcast format and the use of Social Media. Best of all, she came up with a much more threatening plot.

I ordered ‘As Good As Dead’ as soon as I finished the last book. I want to see where Holly Jackson takes Holly and the plot and how her storytelling will change.

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