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Stephen King has written more than 60 books, and I have read most of them.

Every time I read a Stephen King book, I'm amazed how fresh his stories are and how he keeps me interested and guessing every time.

If you have never read a Stephen King book, start with his short stories. His newest book, "If It Bleeds," is a collection of four short stories that vary in tone and structure and are already in development to be movies.

The story, based on the title of the book, "If It Bleeds," brings back the character, Holly Gibney, who was in the previous books "The Outsiders" and "Mr. Mercedes." Holly has an adorable quirky personality and is investigating a school bombing in Pennsylvania, as well as a TV news reporter who has an uncanny knack of being in the right place to cover news stories. King also digs into her back story and the reader experiences her evolution as a character.

"Mr. Harrigan's Phone" is about a wealthy retired businessman who strikes up a friendship with Craig, a kid from down the block. Craig buys Harrigan a smartphone and teaches him how it could help his business. After Harrigan dies, Craig puts the phone in Harrigan's pocket, thinking Harrigan would want it. When troubles happen in Craig's life, he calls the phone, and to his surprise, the phone works, so Craig leaves messages.

Then the story gets weird.

"Rat" is the story of Drew Larson, a writer, who has good ideas, but then horrible things happen, both mentally and physically. When he comes up with a great idea for a Western thriller, he goes to the family cabin to finish the story. When bad things happen, he meets a rat and strikes a bargain with the rodent. This is a new twist on the "Monkey's Paw."

The final story is "The Life of Chuck," which is told in three acts and is told backward. The story is about a businessman named Chuck. The story begins with the end of everything, the second part is a happy dance and the third part is about a room at Chuck's grandparents' house that no one wants to talk about. The three chapters come together for a fantastic story.

I highly recommend "If It Bleeds," one of Stephen King's finest, which is saying quite a bit. This is a must for any Stephen King fan and for a first-time reader of his work.

Brian D. Bray is the IT coordinator at the Missouri River Regional Library.

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