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Summary

A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to the number-one best seller The Outsider

News people have a saying: 'If it bleeds, it leads'. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin.

Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog - and on her own need to be more assertive - when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realises there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins If It Bleeds, featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case - and also the riveting title story in Stephen King's brilliant new collection.

Dancing alongside are three more wonderful long stories from this 'formidably versatile author' (Sunday Times) - 'Mr Harrigan's Phone', 'The Life of Chuck' and 'Rat'. All four display the richness of King's storytelling with grace, humour, horror and breathtaking suspense. A fascinating author's note gives us a wonderful insight into the origin of each story and the writer's unparalleled imagination.

©2020 Stephen King (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, shame I couldn't continue

*** SPOILER ALERT *** I wasn’t sure if I should write this review but wanted to share my thoughts. I’ve read King’s works when I was younger and have recently been rediscovering them. I quite liked this story, having listened to The Outsider audio book. I then came across something that I found offensive. There’s a part where a character in a vulnerable position is described as ‘Muslim woman about to begin Isha’. I think it’s bad taste to draw such a parallel. I still have a lot of respect for this author. In his writing, you get a sense of the kinds of evil corrupt people justify with religion. I’m glad that he does this. But a Muslim woman who chooses to pray is not the same as a terrified woman who has soiled herself cowering on the floor. P.S. Isha is the last prayer of the day for Muslims. From the description, she could crudely be described as prostrating. The Arabic word for that is Sujud.

29 people found this helpful

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Good story but terrible narrator.

As usual, Stephen King writes a really good story, but I had to give up halfway through because I cannot stand listening to Will Patton. I must remember not to buy books that he narrates. Nobody but nobody speaks the way he does when he narrates.

19 people found this helpful

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A narrating dream team

I don't need to go into detail about how good this book is I mean Stephen king wrote it. What really added to the book value is the dream team narrator cast. Each narrator was smartly selected to each story and it was a very entertaining listen. Thank you for everyone who worked in the production.

12 people found this helpful

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Four great stories from Stephen King

I have to admit first of all that it is a long time since I have read anything by Stephen King. I have watched a few of the film adaptations of some of his famous books though. Having a spare credit this month and seeing this new release I thought I would give it a go. And I am glad that I did as this is a collection of four shortish stories all of which are great. No spoilers but here is an overview of each 1, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone in which a young boy introduces an old man to the joys of an early edition iPhone resulting in mysterious events 2. The LIfe of Chuck which is set in the near future and reminds me of a Black Mirror episode 3. If it Bleeds which is, apparently, a sequel to an earlier work Outsiders and tells the story of links between certain mass casualties over a 60 year period 4. Rat, my favourite of all in which a struggling author is haunted by a talking rat (Norwegian Brown) These are all unique and compelling and I will certainly go back and explore more of Stephen King's back catalogue on the strength of these stories.

9 people found this helpful

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Superb

Love Mr Kings lastest output. And this is up there with the outsider. Will patton narration kept me hooked. Best thing about lock down I could listen to this till the early hours. 10/10

7 people found this helpful

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Brilliant ... as always.

Another great book from S. King. Loved If it Bleeds. More from Holly please. Tnx

2 people found this helpful

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Stories are Fine. Narration So-So.

I must confess it’s some time since I read any Stephen King. I read a friend’s review of this book and thought ‘yes.’ I was put off by the extraordinary (and ridiculous) price of the Kindle but serendipity came to the rescue – I had a credit for Audible so started listening to the audiobook version. I am going to tackle this review in stages: one story at a time starting off with Mr. Harrigan’s Phone in which a young boy introduces an old man to the joys of an early edition iPhone resulting in mysterious events. I enjoyed it. It did lag a bit for me when Craig, the main character, went off to middle school, then it picked up the thread again once he went to senior high. I nearly used ‘pace’ rather than ‘thread.’ That would be wrong because the story is quite pedestrian but nevertheless fascinating owing to the master’s storytelling expertise. I just love his prose and some of SK’s metaphors are outstandingly funny. The narrator was excellent too bringing to life Craig, his dad, and old Mr. Harrigan. What struck me more than anything else about this story was King making his points about the wide-ranging effects gadgets, and the Internet have had on society. He makes those points astutely and through his mastery of words, and his characters, he points out the internet is like a gushing water main but gushing information, not water. Now, poor Mr. Harrigan was amazed at this especially when he knew it was all for free. His business acumen found it hard to comprehend. Harrigan was thinking people get conditioned to ‘free.’ It’s not a good thing. [Note: this was before paywalls, subscriptions, and things like adverts on YouTube]. To be continued. Part Two The Life of Chuck First thing to notice is I have deducted a star from my rating because this second story ... well ... I just didn't 'get it.' It seems like three or four short stories all cobbled together in some kind of weirdly experimental style. Sorry, Mr. King, it doesn't work for me no matter you are such a talented writer. Once more, I liked the narration (different narrator, I think), and the prose is sometimes exceptional, almost poetic at times. To be continued ... Part Three If It Bleeds Yes, I did enjoy the story and it was my first encounter with the character Holly Gibney. I really must go on to read the The Outsider. One big criticism though. I did not like the male narrator's take on Holly. His "breathless" slightly higher-pitched voice was both rubbish and distracting from the story. I find this amazing because you would think SK's publisher would be able to find a good male/female narration team. Just started the final story, 'The Rat,' and it sounds good to me. One final thought before I conclude with Part Four after finishing the book, this audiobook does nothing to promote audiobooks. I would rather have read it than listened because in that way I could have heard Holly in my own head as opposed to a pantomime dame impersonation by the narrator. Part Four Finished 'The Rat.' I did enjoy it and do think it was possibly the best of all. It was conventional, well written and well narrated with undertones of the 'Shining.' I really liked SK's style in this one as for me, he strives in other stories, and at odd times to show us how clever he is. It irks me as it's not necessary. Conclusion: Overall 4 Stars for the stories. Three Stars for narration. It's put me off renewing my Audible subscription. I'll stick with eBooks and print in future. Side note: It took me so long to finish as I was distracted by the 'Outlander' series on Netflix. Loved it!

2 people found this helpful

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All-male cast faking women's voices... really?

King is brilliant, he always is. So 5 stars for the story (in this case stories), and since story is what counts most of all, still 4 stars overall. But what's with the alll-male cast of narrators, faking the voices of female protagonists with irritatingly high pitched 'voices'? Bit like fingernails scratching over chalkboards. No actual women available for this job? Really? Such a shame, this could have been so much better.

2 people found this helpful

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Short Stories

Really well narrated and most of the stories where good, but not sure if I would pick short stories again. I prefer picking a book up and staying with the characters till the end, not have to start to embrace new ones every few hrs of listening.

1 person found this helpful

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Something for Everyone (no spoilers)

I would not say this is the best, cleverest, or even newest Stephen King publication-date notwithstanding-but I would say that it is a must-read for both new and Constant readers alike. First of all, I'm giving it five stars because it checks all the boxes of a good Stephen King release: - Culturally 'ept' - Spooky as all heck - Exploratory - Well written - Fun! To the new reader: These are four really good stories that will introduce you to the world of Stephen King. Stop reading this review now, enjoy the book, read a few more, then come back to this review if you even have the capacity to remember ;) To the Constant Reader: This has a bunch of stories that are a return to form for a god of horror, and there'll be something for you in here. If you aren't affected by any of them, you'll still enjoy reading each. This is not the quintessential King story, because there is no such thing; they each bring something new to the table, and this is four stories, each of which brings a different tupperware dish of maybe mac and cheese, potato salad, or some other traditional dish to the "Fun-neral". This is the quintessential King package. It has something for everyone who could possibly, in any world, like anything by Stephen King. The first of the four stories, Mr. Harrigan's Phone, reminded me a lot of the project I've been working on myself, a sort of "technology-gone-bad" tale. I'm not new to the horror scene; think of me as someone who scarfs down a vindaloo like it's a bhuna, so this story did not scare me. It did, however, make me really damn curious and I desperately want to know more after finishing it. Immediately after it ended, I paused the audiobook and went to read people's comments on it online. I'm a sucker for something spiritually-mechanical and no matter how much is elucidated in the text, I NEED to know more! The first of the four stories, Mr. Harrigan's Phone, reminded me a lot of the project I've been working on myself, a sort of "technology-gone-bad" tale. I'm not new to the horror scene; think of me as someone who scarfs down a vindaloo like it's a bhuna, so this story did not scare me. It did, however, make me really damn curious and I desperately want to know more after finishing it. Immediately after it ended, I paused the audiobook and went to read people's comments on it online. I'm a sucker for something spiritually-mechanical and no matter how much is elucidated in the text, I NEED to know more! The second, "The Life of Chuck", was my least favourite of the four. This is not because it was bad, but because it was the least succulent flavour to me as a consumer of horror and fantasy. It's the most high-concept of the four, though that's not really saying much; they're all completely accessible, and none use any particularly frivolous concepts, it's just a sort of "what if" brain-think story. I think the reason I didn't like this one so much was because it's something I've thought about and dismissed on my own time, so hearing King's rendition of what I thought of as a tired trope(by no means has this been fully explored by media, though shows like Black Mirror do a good job) didn't grip me as much as it perhaps could have done if I were just... someone else! "If It Bleeds", the collection's namesake, feels like a lovely return to form since the somewhat lackluster (but still worth reading!!) "The Institute" didn't grip me. I really, really, REALLY enjoyed "The Outsider", and its successor was well chosen to be the eponymous story. I loved getting back to Holly Gibney's world, and while at first I was happy to listen to what felt to me like an epilogue to "The Outsider", I was drawn in to something much more than that, more than the sum of its parts; it's an exploration of its characters and its world, a deeper dive into Holly's experience as a person, and her experiences as an investigator. I listened to this while converting my attic, and I can barely remember doing it. All I remember is being next to the elevator in the Frederick building, mentally biting my nails. What a fantastic several hours I spent listening to this one! What I first thought was a bonus chapter turned into a sequel, then more. While shorter than "The Outsider", it was well-paced and utterly thrilling. I had a literal yell-out-loud-while-driving-screws-into-the-attic-hatch moment toward the end, which may or may not have startled my housemate. Finally, "Rat" was the story that affected me the most. It shares many similarities with "The Shining". I found this rather amusing, as it's narrated by Stephen Weber in the audiobook version--Weber portrayed the only onscreen Jack Torrance that matters (The Shining - miniseries, 1997, screenplay by Stephen King). I wasn't impressed at first. Almost out of spite, because it felt like he was using tropes to shoehorn a fourth story in here. What this story actually is is an exploration of said tropes, and an expansion of them. It's comfortable to listen to at first, you get drawn in and--in fact, several parts reminded me of Salem's Lot. The fallen trees in rural Maine, for example, which make me feel like I'm entering familiar territory, tricked me into thinking King was retreading old ground. While I could more or less figure out what was happening next, it was powerful as an exploration of what it means to write, and write well. This one really got to me. I was in the shower at one point, hangover headache pulsating as I listened to Weber tell me of the protagonist's plight while trying to write his novel, struggling to pick the right words, and I felt like I was being personally talked down to by King; my own stories suffer in similar ways, and it genuinely upset me to think I may not be able to finish one without the help of some supernatural occurance! While it wasn't my favourite of the four stories (hands down, that honour goes to "If It Bleeds", though my favourite 'flavour' is "Mr. Harrigan's Phone"), it was the one that turned me inside out and made me look at myself long and hard. No matter what kind of horror you like best--Supernatural, Metaphysical, Mechanical, Magical, or most importantly, PERSONAL--this collection is quintessential in that there will certainly be something here to grip you, and what doesn't /exactly/ tickle your horror bone will still be... Fun!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kelly Broomhall
  • 18-11-20

Mostly Great

Very enjoyable stories! The only thing is Will Patton's narration. It's mostly fine but I hate, and have always hated, his narration of Holly Gibney. Like why does he make her talk in such a weird cadence? Very off-putting. Anyway, The Life of Chuck is especially great.

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  • Yumna
  • 01-09-20

stephen king does it again

Brilliant, lapped up every minute of it. The stories, the narrators, it simply works. Can't wait for the next stephen king ride.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-05-20

Great little book(s)

Loved the first one, could see this being creepier branching into something else later. Enjoyed hearing another adventure with Holly. Thankyou Mr King :)

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  • Edith Soosaar
  • 24-04-20

Modeller and dark dark dark

Is Stephen King a reincarnation of Cassandra or very sceptical person? Who cares. It's brilliant.