Richard Bachman's Blaze is a pretty solid piece. Told in the third person and focusing on the central character of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., a congenial simpleton with a penchant for confidence games, Blaze is a caper yarn focusing on a high-profile kidnapping.

Stephen King offers an interesting forward. He writes that he initially thought it a pretty bad novel-an overly sentimental story that covered territory outside of Bachman's usual purview. He dusted it off thirty years later, tuned it up and found his earlier assessment too harsh.

Interesting how perspectives change over time.

The narrative moves well, and Bachman plumbs familiar territory here in complicating the plot with mental illness. Blaze often hears the voice of his dead partner, George, in moments of intense pressure. He answers it out loud, making for some nice comic moments (the first convenience store stick-up comes to mind).

I found the heist scene tautly written. Blaze may not have his Mensa card, but he takes care of the details when it matters. And for a 350 pound man, he's pretty nimble on his feet.

Blaze is an ox. He has a dented forehead and he often forgets to do things like brush his teeth or change his socks. But he has a pretty fine sense of morality and is an honorable (and tragic) hero. The conclusion, set in the snow-covered woods of Maine, is a bit sappy, but it's an effective and satisfying wrap-up. The novel is short, but the hardback comes with Stephen's short story "Memory."

I've already mentioned Roadwork is my favorite of the Bachman books, but I'd love to hear from you guys on which you liked best. Also, when we look at Stephen's bibliography, which era of his writing do you enjoy the most?

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