I can always count on Stephen King to get me out of a dry spot in reading. School has been keeping me really busy since I added a class this semester, I'm sinking in short and reflective essay grading and not having as much fun reading time... one bummer about my job. That's why I love King's writing style, he can just start the story and go, and even if it's not one of his best, his writing is so engaging you just zip right through the book, no matter how long.
Joyland is a bit of a side step from the King novels of late. First off, it is a new genre for him, Hard Case Crime. In addition, it is relatively short, considering his typical tomes this one is only about 300 pages. Even so, he fully develops each character, immerses you into the culture (this time a carnival), he gives sufficient background, he keeps the mystery alive and he keeps it moving.
The story is about a college student who spends a summer working the carnival in North (South?) Carolina, which happens to have a haunted house ride. The catch is that the house is actually haunted by a young girl whose boyfriend murdered her while riding through. Devin decides to solve the mystery and find the murderer, who came as a complete surprise.
The good: it's Stephen King.... what else do I need to say?
The not so: heavy on the "carny" stuff, the ghost, mystery and murder seemed a little sidelined by the Devin story.
I'm not real familiar with Hard Case Crime so I can't judge whether this book would be a good portrayal, but I can say it was pretty true to what SK does best, which is tell a story. And while it's not his best, it's a good read.