I intended initially to just lump this review of Later in with the rest of the books in my first "Books I Read In 2021" post, and indeed that's how I wrote it. But it occurred to me tonight that that post might be in the oven for a while before it's finished baking. So why not go ahead and get these thoughts on into the world? Why wait until later?
Lots to talk about with this one. Here's your spoiler warning: I'll be talking about some things you don't want to know unless you learn them from the novel itself. You've been warned!
Before we get into the spoilers, let's wrestle with an issue that has been somewhat controversial; not for the first time, either. I refer to the issue of whether this novel makes sense as a Hard Case Crime Publication.
I'll confess to knowing little about their overall line of books. I've read King's three, plus one Max Allan Collins that I enjoyed; and have read a handful of McMolo reviews at Dog Star Omnibus. That's scarcely an amateur's knowledge, though, so I will have to yield any definitive opinion as to whether Later makes sense as a Hard Case Crime release to somebody with a bit more expertise.
My perception? Yeah, more or less; it did. It takes a while for it to get to the crime-centric aspects, but they do eventually arise, and they are suitably pulpy, albeit with a modern twist.
If anything, Later makes more sense for Hard Case Crime than either of King's previous titles for them The Colorado Kid or Joyland do, so we're getting there, I guess. The Colorado Kid (love it though I do) is more about journalism than about crime, or even mystery; Joyland definitively has a murder mystery in it, but does it have any detectives or any of the elements one thinks of when one thinks of hardboiled crime fiction? Not sure I'd argue that it does.