With Blaze (issued here with a new foreword by Stephen King), we have one of the most adroit entries in the series. King had written the book in 1973 and it had subsequently vanished from his personal radar as he busied himself writing Carrie and Salem's Lot, two of the books that were to both make his fortune and establish him as the greatest modern master of horror fiction. When Blaze turned up among his papers in the library of the University of Maine, he looked at it again, and (fortunately for King aficionados) sanctioned its publication.
Clay Blaisdell is a hulking 6' 7'' petty criminal who encounters another lowlife with large ambitions: George Rackley has a fund of criminal schemes, but his Big Idea is to kidnap the children of rich parents and hold them to ransom. What ensues is shot through with the masterly orchestration of tension that is Stephen King's métier. If there are some undigested influences here (the two protagonists -- one massive and powerful, the other the brains of the duo -- owe more than a little to George and Lenny in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men), the personality that comes through (leaving aside the Richard Bachman nom-de-plume) is Stephen King, and followers of his work will need no persuasion to pick up this one. --Barry Forshaw
Clay Blaisdell is one big mother, but his capers are strictly small-time until his mentor introduces him to the one big score that every small-timer dreams of: kidnap. But now the brains of the operation has died - or has he? - and Blaze is alone with a baby as hostage. The Crime of the Century just turned into a race against time in the white hell of the Maine woods.