Here is a thriller scary enough to test its readers’ mettle—and toughen them up ... Like Kate Atkinson in her Jackson Brodie series, King writes a procedural with Dickensian scope ... From vaccinations to the Capitol riot, Holly charges into the thorniest contemporary debates with gleeful recklessness. With the same abandon, King bends the rules of a procedural, not least by revealing the perpetrators’ identities in the opening chapter...King’s gambles pay off: Knowing the professors’ culpability only gives the narrative more urgency, especially as the gruesome nature of their crimes becomes horrifyingly clear ... What makes King’s work so much more frightening than that of most other suspense writers, what elevates it to night-terror levels, isn’t his cruelty to his characters: It’s his kindness. King describes his characters’ interior landscapes, their worries and plans, with a focus like a giant benevolent beam. You can sense the goodness running through them, and that current of goodness is what makes the acts of violence so disturbing.
King has never been shy about his politics, but Holly is one of his most political novels to date, and it'll' surely anger all the right people. Holly is a gripping crime novel, but it's one that's very close to the horror aesthetic King is known for ... the way the narrative is constructed and the layering of characters and their gruesome ends are all reminders that King is also a superb crime/mystery writer who easily navigates the interstitial space where all dark genres meet ... a testament to King's talents as a writer and a stark reminder of what can happen when writers allow the magic that inhabits their characters to blossom unimpeded by their original plans for them. Please, Mr. King, give us more Holly soon.
The novel is not so much a whodunit as a whydunit, moving between Holly in the present and each of the Harrises’ victims over the years. Each capture is evoked in devastating detail ... Lyrical and horrifying, Holly is a hymn to the grim pursuit of justice. The detective’s dogged search for truth drives the book; Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Trump and the 6 January insurrection are all persistent themes. Even the Harrises are railing against the injustices of time and age. And the novel itself is striving towards an expulsion of poison, and a healing.