Dolores Claiborne, the novel

Woman peers down into well as the sun goes into full eclipse above her
It’s a solar eclipse.

Dolores Claiborne is a Stephen King novel for people who think they don’t like Stephen King novels. Its horrors all have human origins and no good deed goes unpunished.

On page one, Dolores Claiborne has already been advised of her rights. Dolores is thought to have killed her wealthy employer, Vera Donovan, for whom Dolores had worked since her teens.

The rest of the novel is a transcript of what Dolores tells to  the police chief and his deputy at Little Tall Island, Maine, and their stenographer.

Dolores freely admits that she killed her husband 29 years earlier during a solar eclipse. Although most people suspected her, no one could prove she did it.

Dolores says she didn’t kill Vera, although sometimes she would have liked to. Vera was a bossy, nasty, bitchy woman. After Dolores’s husband’s death, even her children didn’t want to live at home.

Dolores put up with Vera because there were few jobs available and she was used to Vera’s habits.  Over the years, the women battled their own demons and each other, finally seeming to reach an armed truce.

When Vera died, she left her estate, valued at $30 million, to Dolores, which is why Dolores is being questioned.

Dolores says, “Most of what bein human’s about is makin choices and payin the bills when they come due.”

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
Bill Russell, illustrator
Viking, ©1992. 305 p.
1992 bestseller #1; my grade: A

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Third Deadly Sin: A twist on”Son of Sam” killer

The Third Deadly Sin is part police procedural, part psychological novel dredging up memories of the “Son of Sam” killings in New York City in the summer of 1976.

Knife blade drips blood into a white rose.
Knife and rose: symbols of purity and murder

Two men have already been murdered when Abner Boone has a chat with retired cop Edward X. Delaney at the suggestion of the acting Deputy Commissioner.

Boone says someone has killed two men at midtown hotels in a month, slitting their throats and mutilating their genitals, before disappearing without a trace.

Delaney agrees to act as an unofficial sounding board for investigators.

Delaney’s wife is active in the feminist movement. Their discussions about women’s roles makes him wonder if the killer could possibly be a woman. His wife unequivocally says that’s impossible.

Statistics show almost no random killers are female.

Delaney still wonders, especially when a third killing shows the time period between murders corresponds to a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Novelist Lawrence Sanders divides his attention between the mousy, back office clerical worker with a sharp Swiss Army Knife and Delaney.

Sanders sets each discussion of the investigation one murder behind what readers know has happened.  That may show how slow police work is, but it’s confusing to readers.

Despite that flaw, The Third Deadly Sin is fascinating reading.

The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
G. P. Putnam. © 1981.  444 p.
1981 bestseller #8. My grade B+

© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni