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Four Past Midnight


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The self-described ``America's literary boogeyman'' here serves up four horror novellas; none is wildly scary, and only one offers King's typical, colloquial, hard-driving conversational style with its compulsive readability. A jumbo jet flies through a time-slip in The Langoliers . Marooned a few minutes in the past, a few surviving passengers try to get home . . . while off in the distance the langoliers, creatures (``sort of like beachballs'') who eat up time after it's been used, close in. In Misery -esque Secret Window, Secret Garden , a writer accused of plagiarism by a psychopath has an awful time trying to prove his innocence. The Library Policeman , the collection's standout, pits a middle-aged businessman with some overdue books against a demonic, life-sucking monster of a librarian. The Sun Dog features a boy's Polaroid camera, which, no matter where it is focused, takes pictures of a huge, mean and ugly dog. In each successive photo, the dog, slobbering and slavering, approaches the edge of the picture plane. There is an inappropriate abundance of heartwarming sentimentality here; where King used to slaughter the innocents with gleeful impunity, he now apologizes for the deed, and love will out. 1,500,000 first printing; $750,000 joint ad/promo with NAL's publication of The Dark Half; BOMC main selection. (Sept.)

YA-- Like some denizen of the dark, King weaves a spell evoking terror and shivers as he takes readers on a nightmarish journey in this quartet of novellas. In ``Longoliers'' a group of airline passengers awake to an empty plane, and an empty world. They have become stuck in time, out of sync with the present at 20,000 feet. ``Secret Window, Secret Garden'' finds novelist Mort Rainey confronted by an eerie character who accuses him of plagiarism, and has come to settle up. In ``Sun Dog,'' Kevin Delevan gets exactly what he wanted for his 15th birthday, a Polaroid ``Sun 660'' camera, but every picture he takes shows a salivating ``hell hound'' getting closer and closer. In ``Library Policeman,'' the best of the four, Sam Peebles borrows two books from the library late one night, and the librarian warns him not to be late returning them. What Sam doesn't know is that she was a child murderer who committed suicide in 1960, and when he loses the books, her library policeman pays him a visit. Four Past Midnight is one of King's best recent works. It is hard to put down, truly chilling, and sure to be enjoyed by YA horror aficionados everywhere.-- John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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