Top positive review
Four Solid Stories
Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2020
If It Bleeds contains four novellas that vary in tone and structure, and each one is well worth reading. A few spoiler-free thoughts:
"Mr. Harrigan's Phone"-King is a master of reflective stories, especially those that begin in childhood. Craig, this story's narrator and protagonist, is immensely likable, and his relationship with Mr. Harrigan, the titular character, is very well-developed.
"The Life of Chuck"-I found this one a little hard to get into, as at first it felt a little too familiar. King has written more than a few takes on cataclysmic events, and while I've mostly enjoyed them, I wasn't sure that this one was going to be one of the best. However, the story soon introduced an interesting mystery, and soon after I realized that this story was not at all what I'd assumed. With an atypical structure and ideas that become more interesting and meaningful with each page, this ended up being my favorite of the four.
"If It Bleeds"-Fans of the Bill Hodges Trilogy and The Outsider will be pleased, as I was, at the return of Holly Gibney. The story has all the elements that made those novels great, and really develops Holly's character along with her investigation. If you haven't read those novels, you might not enjoy it as much, although King made a strong effort to provide context. It also has some spoilers for the previous books, especially The Outsider.
"Rat"-King has done a lot of writing about writing, but that doesn't mean there's nothing left to say. Once again, he takes us inside the mind and experiences of an author, and once again it results in a solid character and an interesting story. I didn't like this one quite as much as the other three, and would have liked to see a little more plot development, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the story.