'Full Throttle'

"Full Throttle," by Joe Hill.

“Full Throttle: Stories” by Joe Hill, c.2019, William Morrow $27.99, 480 pages

The pedal’s to the metal and you’re in a hurry.

You need to get somewhere fast, somewhere nobody’s ever been before — or you need to get away from there. The engine’s roaring to rush you across town or across time. Watch the road. Beware of sharp curves and drive safely. In the new book, “Full Throttle: Stories,” by Joe Hill, hard-braking tires scream — and so will you.

Race was far ahead of the pack — so far ahead that his father, Vince, could barely see him on his Harley a half-mile up-front. But that was just Race, and Vince loved him and wondered what went wrong to make Race a killer. Vince watched as his son let a girl get hacked to death, right in front of their whole biker group, and the kid was insisting on more revenge. But in “Throttle” (written with Stephen King), exactly whose revenge would it be?

John never planned on becoming a librarian, it just happened: After his parents died in a murder/suicide, he found a very overdue book that his mother had borrowed and when he returned it, one thing led to another and he ended up working in the bookmobile.

It was a decent job, made better by the elderly patrons who came to get books, only in “Late Returns,” some of them got more than just reading material.

When the onboard movie went black, Gregg Holder, who’d been watching the famous woman sitting next to him, took note. He also noticed the shake in the pilot’s voice, as passengers were informed that they were landing in Fargo soon, diverted due to DPRK missiles. But in “You Are Released,” going to Fargo isn’t far enough.

@TYME2WASTE was Tweeting her vacation, bored with everything, fighting with her mother, wishing she was home. Ugh. In “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead”, her eyes rolled hard when her father decided to stop at some stupid side-of-the-road circus. #DumbestThingInTheWorld.

In his introduction, Hill does something charming: He gives major kudos to his parents, as parents and as writers. This gives fans some great stories, and it offers readers insight from where Hill’s novels spring, as you’ll see when you read it.

Similar to his mother’s talent, the 13 short stories Hill presents here ooze with a psychological tautness that goes unnoticed until you realize that your fingernails are embedded in the arms of your chair and you’re holding your breath. It’s like hearing a chainsaw outside your house, and somehow knowing that it’s meant for you.

As does his father, Hill puts characters in situations that are distastefully disgusting and unimaginably frightening — a dead animal near a lake, a madman down the hall in your bedroom — but in Hill’s case, they’re exquisitely possible. There’s no revived-cats-in-the-cemetery here, no clowns-in-the-sewer; instead, there are things that, if you squint, really could lurk outside your window right now.

But don’t look. Instead, grab the keys, run and get “Full Throttle” in your hands. Take a break and get ready to scream.

Schlichenmeyer is a freelance book reviewer from La Crosse, Wis.

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