In Stephen King’s 1989 novel The Dark Half, Thad Beaumont is a successful writer living in Maine with his wife, Elizabeth, and his two young children, a set of twins. Major success comes from Thad’s books written under the penname George Stark, while those under his real name do not get the same attention. At a turning point in his life, Thad decides to make significant changes in his career, which include retiring the use of the name George Stark.
What follows is a series of murders leaving behind crime scenes covered in Thad’s fingerprints. Police officer Alan Pangborn investigates the murders and questions Thad. Pangborn is perplexed because Thad has alibis despite the evidence found where the murders took place. Both the evidence from the crime scenes and Thad’s own words are convincing to Pangborn. Thad, Elizabeth, and Pangborn gradually uncover clues about what is really happening throughout this 600-page action-packed mystery.
Most folks who know me are well aware that I am a Stephen King fanatic (or “constant reader”). I wanted to recommend The Dark Half because it is one of many that I consider to be a hidden gem among King’s works; a novel that is not as iconic or as well-known as some of his others such as Carrie (1974), The Shining (1977), or It (1986), but just as good of a story. Early in the book, I became glued to it. The Dark Half is a terrific crime story with enough mystery and suspense to keep the reader engaged. Additionally, you will get a good taste of King’s unique talent and ability to create fantastic characters, a reason why so many of his works are as great as they are. To the constant readers and other fiction fans who haven’t read this yet, The Dark Half is not one to skip over. —Aaron Katzman ’22
Cover design: Viking Press