Hardcover: 376 pages
Publisher: William Morrow & Co Feb 2007
Joe Hill is the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King and Heart-Shaped Box is his first novel.
Judas Coyne is a middle-aged rock star, the genius behind the heavy metal band, Jude's Hammer. He is a collector of the macabre, including a cannibal's cookbook and a snuff film. So when he received an email informing him of an auction that had a haunted suit for sale, how could he resist? What Jude didn't know is that the auction is rigged and the seller is the sister of an ex-girlfriend who blames him for her suicide.
The suit is haunted by the girl's stepfather, Craddock McDermott. Craddock leads Jude and his current girlfriend, Georgia, on a terror filled supernatural experience that includes hallucinations, induced suicides, phantom dogs and phone calls from the dead.
As Jude and Georgia travel from New York to Florida and eventually to Louisiana in an attempt to rid themselves of the ghost, Craddock pursues them in his old phantom pick-up truck. Along the way, they learn about Craddock, his daughter and the real reason for her suicide.
The characters are complex, although Hill's descriptions of them are a little trite (i.e. his assistant Danny has high, arched Jack Nicholson eyebrows). Still, I enjoyed the book and, if you like Stephen King, you will probably like his son too.
Synopsis (from the author's website)
Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman's noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.
I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder. . . .
For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?
But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.
And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand. . . .