The Man in the Black Suit: 4 Dark Tales - Becky Ann Baker, John Cullum, Peter Gerety, Arliss Howard, Stephen King The first story “The Man In The Black Suit” tells a dark edged tale laced with grief and centers around a young boy and his fear of losing his Mom. Out fishing one day a boy has a run-in with the devil who attempts to take advantage of his fear. It manages to be creepy, funny, and heartbreaking and the characters come to vivid life. This is a story I’ll be rereading before passing along.

Next up is "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" about a suicidal traveling salesman with a quirky habit of collecting little snippets of bathroom graffiti in a notebook. As he contemplates suicide and the trauma it (and the discovery of his odd collection) will have on his wife and young daughter (he has no clue . . .) he reviews his favorites for what may or may not be the last time. This was a downright gloomy story filled with despair and near hopelessness about a lonely life spent on the road. There’s an itsy bitsy glimmer of hope at the very end and the emotion felt very real but I wish I hadn’t “read” this one in such an intimate format. I can deal with gloominess, darkness and all the grossness you can splatter at me but a suicidal father is something I never, ever wish to read about if I can avoid it.

“The Death of Jack Hamilton” takes a step back in time. It’s all about a gang of bank robbers, one who is gravely wounded, running from the law. I’m not a big fan of this sort of thing but King’s writing voice managed to hold my attention. His characters are full of color and wit even when facing down death. It’s also very gruesome. It’s a good thing I have a cast iron stomach because I not so brilliantly insisted upon listening to the bullet removal scene while eating lunch. Ewww. . .

The final story, “You Can Only Say What It Is in French “, features a long-time married couple on their way to their second honeymoon. While traveling, the wife has an odd sense of déjà vu and “sees” some disturbing images. She knows bad things are going to happen to her husband. She’s seen his glasses melt right into his face (amongst other gruesome images). She also knows she can prevent them if she changes but one thing in their routine but, for reasons that are explained later on, isn’t compelled to do so. As the story begins she appears to adore her husband, who has given her riches beyond her greatest expectation and seems to have been a decent guy during their time together but as the story progresses it turns out he’s done some not-so-nice things along the way. He’s also the reason why she feels she is doomed to burn forever in hell if those Christian School teachers of her past have their way. This was entertaining but slightly predictable.