Book Review of Stephen King’s “Billy Summers” — Derek Barton – 2022

Billy Summers

by Stephen King — a Contemporary Fiction Novel

Released on August 3, 2021 — 528 pages

It’s been some time since I’ve done a book review, for that matter it’s been quite some time since I’ve read or listened to one on Audible! Anyway, I picked this up a few weeks ago, intrigued by the synopsis. See what you think…

The Synopsis:

From legendary storyteller Stephen King, whose “restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained” (The New York Times Book Review), comes a thrilling new novel about a good guy in a bad job.

Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?

How about everything.

This spectacular can’t-put-it-down novel is part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and it features one of the most compelling and surprising duos in King fiction, who set out to avenge the crimes of an extraordinarily evil man. It’s about love, luck, fate, and a complex hero with one last shot at redemption.

You won’t put this story down, and you won’t forget Billy.

The Review:

Now for anyone who has read a few of my other book reviews, you know I hold Stephen King as one of the top echelon of modern day writers. He has been an inspiration to me ever since my teen years. Even up through today, he wows me with original stories like The Outsider and Mr. Mercedes (which inspired my own Elude Novel Series. That being said, I have to say I was underwhelmed with this novel.

I love the characters in it, the main ones Billy and Alice are a great pair and instantly feel like old friends to the reader. However, the story is all over the map, literally, and King seems to struggle with what to do with the main character. The first 240 pages could have been easily reduced or structured better to accomplish what he set out to do which was build up the main anti-hero Billy Summers and show you his vulnerability and his strengths. The book seems to really meander especially when Billy himself decides to fill up his days writing an autobiography of his own past while waiting for his target to come to town.

Don’t get me wrong — the autobiography is well done and even heartbreaking in places — but it doesn’t move the story along. I won’t spoil it for you, but there is a nice little tie-in to his The Shining novel storyline that is a special treat for diehard fans (us “nerds” in other words, LOL!).

The Rating:

I found this more like a great example of a character study (at least until Alice comes into the story exactly on page 240!). The pairing of Billy and Alice is the highlight of the novel and the true heart of this tale. I give it an overall B or 3.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it, but I would not say it’s a priority read for your reading list. If you have other “must reads”, put them first.

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), EVADE Series (Parts I, II & III)  & IN FOUR DAYS: a Horror-Suspense Novella (available on Audible.com!).  Also the Dark Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

OUR NEWEST HORROR NOVEL HAS BEEN RELEASED!! THE HIDDEN WITHIN — DEREK BARTON – 2022

….You aren’t who they say you are. Show your true nature and you’ll be free….

Makenzie’s life had been going so well until a horrific car accident left her with severe head trauma. Now recovering, she begins to lash out with violence. Her actions put herself and those around her in danger, forcing Makenzie to be committed for additional treatment.

Held for observation, she begins to discover a world that should not exist. One of bloody fantasies, dark obsessions, and homicidal cravings.

Torn between worlds, Makenzie must make the ultimate decision. She can either stand and fight for her humanity or run deeper into the night of razor-sharp claws and bloody fangs!

Get your copy today on Amazon or Kindle!!

THE HIDDEN WITHIN – Chapter #1 Excerpt — Derek Barton – 2022

Hello everyone! I hope the New Year has already been treating you better than 2020 & 2021!!

Here is Chapter 1 from the new novel, The Hidden Within written by my father, T.D. Barton and I. This is the upcoming sequel to The Hidden from 2017. We sincerely hope you enjoy it. The full novel will be out in a couple months so keep your eyes open for it!!!

CHAPTER ONE                                                                                                                                                                          

Throbbing, pounding pain split Makenzie’s skull and a gnawing hunger roiled her guts. She was running noiselessly along a path through a wooded expanse. Driven by an irresistible urge that she did not understand, but had no desire to resist, she forged ahead at a breakneck pace.  At last, she paused and sniffed the heavy night air, pungent with the scent of rotting plants and vegetation lining the forest floor. Ahead she sensed the mordant smell of human flesh, coated enticingly with a sheen of sweat brought on by fear and exertion. Her prey was straining to escape, running, and stumbling blindly amongst the trees, crashing loudly through the underbrush.

While paused, she looked down at her hands and stared at the long, black claws that glistened in the moonlight at the ends of her shaggy fingers. With a snarl she brought them up and scratched at her fur-covered belly.  From deep within, she felt a blood-chilling howl building up, swelling the walls of her throat.  She was no longer Makenzie; she was something else. Something not human but dangerously primeval—savage and powerful.  The thing tilted its head back straightened its neck and let go. Rumbling out into the night, the ghastly sound reverberated among the trees and dense foliage of the forest. When at last it died down, the sound of the various denizens of the dark had been silenced. An eerie quiet had settled in and not one cricket or tree frog dared to be the first to break that silence. Finally, a lone owl hooted in the distance and the sounds of the night resumed. Chuffing out a hot breath, the beast started running again. Soon she would overtake her victim and its blood would course hotly down her throat.

From far above in the night sky, she looked down at herself and the young man who staggered along a few yards before. Dimly Makenzie was becoming aware that this was not real. Another fierce nightmare was dragging her against her will through a primordial wood in the form of a beast, primitive and feral. 

Shay-rah… Shay-rah… the name seemed to whisper on a breeze through the branches.  But when the beast cocked its long ears forward, twitching them back and forth, she realized the whispers came from within her own mind.

Silently she prayed that she would not wake up. This time please let her catch her prey. She lusted for the taste of his flesh. Not yet, she was almost there… almost… there… almost…..


The world was a shit-brown smudge, smeared across her field of vision. Makenzie wanted to shake her head to clear it, but she found she couldn’t move, wanted to bring her balled fists to her eyes and wipe away whatever this film was that blocked her sight.  But her arms lay limp and unresponsive by her side.

Groggy and frighteningly confused, she tried to call out for help; but only a strangled, weak mewling sound escaped her throat. She licked her lips and blinked rapidly. Her breathing was slow and sluggish as she drew in great gasps and released them with a shutter.

Slowly a wavering shadow began to coalesce above her and, as she continued to blink and roll her eyes, the image of a face appeared, still very fuzzy in outline but nonetheless recognizable as that of a man. Her own face scrunched up into a scowl of fear and loathing and she squirmed against the restraints that held her pinned like a specimen beneath a microscope.

It dawned on her that the man was saying something. The voice drifted in from far away and she struggled to understand the words. It sounded like “Offend me….offend me….mistake us.” The ringing in her ears was so strong as to overwhelm any sound from the outside and she felt her head would explode. No, not offend me, not that….it was… Makenzie.

That’s it: Makenzie. Yes, Makenzie….and then Ms. Jacobs. It was a name. Her name. Yes, her name was Makenzie Jacobs. Always had been. So there, that solves that. This man hovering his round black face over her was calling her name.  Okay, so now she could go back to sleep. She closed her tired eyes and began to nod off.

But the man wasn’t through. His hands grasped her arms on both sides, and he shook her, gently at first and then with a more firm and aggressive urgency.

“Ms. Jacobs, can you hear me?” he said and this time she could understand his voice more clearly. He looked away and Makenzie stared up at his stubbly chin, noticing the cleft at the point of it. She fixated on it for a moment, watching it bob and weave as he seemed to be talking to someone off to the side.

“Bring her some water, I think she’s coming around,” he said. And a female voice replied in the affirmative. “Yes, doctor,” the woman said, and footsteps echoed across Makenzie’s consciousness.

The doctor looked down at her again and his face seemed genuinely concerned, but, true to his profession, he maintained a certain aloofness, so as not to become too involved. She was merely a patient, not a person.

“You’ve been given a shot to revive you and your head should begin to clear very soon, he said. “Just try to remain calm and relax.” Makenzie thought she detected a slight Jamaican accent in his voice.

“Can you talk? Do you know where you are?”

She wrinkled her brow and coughed dryly. Try as she might, she had no recollection of where she was or what had brought her here.

All she could recall was her name and the name brought her no sense of satisfaction, as though she should be ashamed of the person it represented. Why should she be repelled by her own name? Who is Makenzie Jacobs and why was she here? Dimly she seemed to recall another name. It was something else she used to answer to long ago… What did it mean? The name whispered around inside her mind and then was gone again.

The doctor scowled and peered intently into her eyes. His breath wafted by her nose, bringing a faint aroma of sage along with it. A hand suddenly appeared; the arm attached to it leading to a white sleeve which dissolved into a blur off to the left of her vision. It was a woman’s hand, and it held a plastic cup full of water, which was brought to her mouth. She gingerly sipped the cold water, and it blessedly soothed her parched lips and raspy mouth.  After a short pause for breath, she raised her head for a deeper drink, and this loosened her knotted throat.

“I’m in a hospital,” she croaked. “Car crash…”

The doctor frowned and looked off to the side again. As he spoke to the woman Makenzie stared up at him and her attention this time was centered on a vein, an artery actually, which throbbed at the base of his throat. Again, she licked her lips, but this time not because of thirst, rather something else coursed through her, like the blood in his pulse. It was something more akin to hunger.

Or lust.

He looked down again and gave her a warm smile. The strange feeling faded away.

“Makenzie, the crash was a long while ago.” Do you remember?

She tried to set up but was still immobilized. Why was she restrained? Was she severely injured? Her mind flashed pictures of crunching metal and screeching tires and she remembered being tossed around like a ragdoll. The smell of burning gasoline seemed to fill her nostrils. Flashes of memory, disjointed and surreal, slammed through her mind. She saw glimpses of that night— swirling images that terrified her. It was more than she could handle. There was nothing there that Makenzie wanted to remember.

She screamed.

“It’s all right. It’s all right, you’re not hurt. Shhhh,” the doctor’s voice was soothing but firm. “You’re okay…okay. Please. Just relax.”

“Makenzie.”

She began to calm down, but still looked from side to side, bewildered, and upset.

“Makenzie.”

She looked the doctor in the face.

“Do you remember your parents? Their names?”

Gazing into the distance she stammered, woodenly, “J-Jillian? …. Carter?”

“Good. Very good. Jillian and Carter Jacobs.” He smiled, showing even white teeth, professionally capped.

“Ms. Jacobs, my name is Doctor Doakes. Your parents love you very much. And they’ve brought you to me, uh, to us to try to help you. Do you remember that?”

She knitted her brows. “The crash… it was…” Her voice trailed off.

“Yes, it was a terrible crash.” he said. “But that’s not why you are here.”

“Makenzie, you’ve been suffering from lapses…hallucinations…periods of violence and rage. Recently you were involved in an incident at your parents’ house. The fundraiser.  Is…any of this coming back to you?”

Again, he searched her uncomprehending face. The girl had no idea what he was talking about.

“You hurt some people and the police had to be called. Mrs. Jacobs says that you have become increasingly irrational and impossible to deal with at home and they, well we all feel it would be good if you could spend some time here with us until we can sort out just what is going on with you.”

Makenzie jerked her head sideways in a bird-like fashion and looked out the window.

“No crash. Not a hospital,” she said, and her voice sounded flat, unemotional. Quite calm now, she looked back at Dr Doakes and in a voice dripping with sarcasm she said, “I’m in a nut-house. The fucking bitch has put me away.”

Slowly she shook her head from side to side.

“So, she got what she has always wanted. I’m out of the picture. No more embarrassing outbursts from crazy Makenzie. Senator Jacobs can bury her little girl, and no one will ever know. This is what she had planned all along. Well, it’s not going to happen, I can tell you that. For once, Jillian is not going to get her way.”

Suddenly she began straining against the straps which held her to the bed. She thrashed and squirmed like a demon unleashed. Her struggles became so violent that Dr. Doakes and his nurse, Kim both stepped back momentarily startled.

“Bullshit!” screamed the agitated young lady. “This is fucking bullshit! And she’s not going to get away with it!”

“Aaaaarrrr!” she screamed and as the screams began to trail off into wails of anger they started to sound almost like the howls of a wounded beast.

Frothing at the mouth, she balled her fists so tightly that her long nails began to slice deeply into her own palms, bringing forth rivulets of blood.

“I’ll kill her!” She howled. “Aaaaa-I’ll kill ‘em both! You can’t keep me here! Do you get that assholes? You can’t! I’ll fucking kill you all!  Rip out your fucking throats! I will! You can’t stop me!”

Tightening his grip on her upper arms the doctor shot a meaningful glance at Nurse Kim, who turned and prepared a syringe. Returning to the struggling doctor she handed the sedative to him.

“Here we go again, Doctor,” she said, shaking her head sadly. “Here we go again.”

EVADE Audible 3- Part Series COMPLETE! — Derek Barton – 2021

That’s right, Great news! The last part of Evade has been produced on Audible.

You can now hear the whole series on audio, crafted by the stellar voice talents of Ashley Ulery.



The balance for Evil has tipped in Hell’s favor…

On the day Detective Lindsey Korrey should be celebrating the closure of her biggest case, The Nurse Catcher, she’s caught up in an intense police car chase.

Rory, a missing child case of three years, has fallen under her protection. Someone — or something — wants him back.
Chased down and hunted by a supernatural enemy, Lindsey must evade capture at any cost.

Yet their road is full of hidden dangers. The Seekers emerge out of every shadow…around every corner…

With twists and turns, extraordinary characters, action, suspense, and a mystery with pulse-pounding revelations, EVADE will take your breath away and leave you wanting –needing to know more!

For Audible click here:

Only $6.95 per part for non-members!!!

Grab This Two-fer!! — Derek Barton 2021

EVADE Part Two — NOW ON AUDIBLE.COM!!

EVADE Part Three — NOW ON KINDLE & AMAZON!!

Don’t miss out on this high-paced thriller… IT WILL SNEAK UP ON YOU!

Here’s what the AMAZON FIVE STAR REVIEWS are saying:

…‘Evade, Part One’ by Derek Barton is the sequel to his 2017 novella ‘In Four Days’. This installment is filled with action, suspense and twist and turns enough to give one literary whiplash!

…I LOVED this story and the way that the horror is both brutal and terrifying. The novella format works perfectly here as it gives the story enough time to breathe while making the reader hungry to absorb more. I’m absolutely ready for the next volume of this story!

…Heart throbbing novel, quick read, that is very engaging. Great cliffhanger too. A lot of cliff hangers seem like a stretch, but this one works well. Thrilling mystery. Would recommend!

…Evade part 1, sequel to In Four Days. I was into reading this, did not want to put the book down until I was done reading. Loved how the Author Derek Barton brought the 2 bike riders into the story. Just another day for the nurse catcher then a twist and turn of events!!! Curious to find out what the supernatural enemy and seekers are all about. Suspenseful!!!

…The author takes you on a journey through the beginning of a series that looks to be suspenseful and gripping. Well written – keeps your interest and is a great read. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to the next book.

 

 

2021 DAY PLANNER/SHORT STORY COLLECTION EBOOK — Derek Barton – 2020

12 MONTHS OF HELL & HORROR NOW ON SALE!

Above are sample pages for your preview.

As I previously announced I have released a new book of six short stories combined with a 2021 Day Planner! The 8.5″ x 11″ paperback journal will be on sale through Amazon for $11.99.

The EBOOK version in writeable PDF Format can be purchased right now through this website. ONLY $3.99!!!

If you are interested in the ebook version that can be downloaded directly to your computer, laptop or even phone, send me an email at RIVYENPHX@GMAIL.COM and I will send you an invoice through Paypal. DUE TO THE COMPLEX “FILLABLE” VERSION OF THE PDF, THE EBOOK CAN ONLY BE PURCHASED DIRECTLY THROUGH ME – SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.

DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS GREAT SEASONAL GIFT THAT CAN KEEP YOU ORGANIZED AND IN SUSPENSE ALL YEAR!!!

12 MONTHS OF HELL & HORROR! – Derek Barton – 2020

A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE FOR ALL OF YOU!!

I have just created and submitted a new one-of-a-kind 2021 Calendar/Day Planner & Horror Story Collection — It’s called 12 Months of Hell & Horror!

Yeah, I was inspired by the twelve months of hell & horror we went through this year!

Inside you’ll find 6 short stories with original illustrations by my father, T.D. Barton. You will also have 365-day journal pages as well as 12 calendar pages with an Important Day Notes section.

It will be available within a day or two on Amazon for only $11.99!! It will make a great gift for you or any reader you know. BUY NOW to keep organized and thrilled for the entire coming year!!

Got A New Smile — Derek Barton – 2020

I wanted to check in with everyone and advise you of my current projects I’m working on.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge was a big help and success for me this year! I used it to help me get Evade Part III written, edited, and soon to be published by the end of the year!!

Evade Part II has been produced and sent in to Audible.com for their final approve to sell the audiobook probably by the end of December.

I am also working on a secret side project — hope to have more news on that before the end of the year. Check back here for more information!

I’m back to reworking the outline for the third Wyvernshield Series book. Been a very rough year for everyone and I certainly have felt it — the first time in six years that I had a serious snag in my motivation as well as production. Anyway, it appears that this has eased up and I’m ready to create once again.

I have decided to have one new goal: for a whole year, I want to write 400 words every day. Now, I won’t say this will be in stone or that I can reach the small goal every day, but it does give me a minimum to obtain. In other words, it will be easier to say to myself, “C’mon…It’s only 400 words. Stop being lazy, you can do this easy!”

By the end of one year, it totals to over 124,000 words (I am basing this on six out of seven days reaching 400 words). So for a nice kickstart to this, I wrote tonight 1,108.

Thank you all for your support and your fantastic energy which helps fuel my work! Got a lot more horror to share…