A couple is pulled over in the Nevada desert by a cop who finds a baggy of pot in the car. It’s one of those instances where a trip to the police station would clear up everything. Instead, the cop is crazed, swearing at the couple and punctuating his speech with the word “tak.” When they arrive in Desperation, Nevada, population 0, formerly about 250, they find a house of horrors. The cop has taken prisoner a family of five, killing their six-year-old daughter, and a burned-out literary wonder who passed through on a Harley on trip to revive his career. Desperation is not just another forgotten Western mining town. The mining company uncovered something bad. Something very bad.
The cop is possessed by Tak, a primitive entity too old to be a demon. However, Tak, via David Carver, runs afoul of God. Yeah, that God. The one in the Bible. But King’s God proves to be a rather edgy, if still distant, character. One theme that runs through the novel is that God is cruel. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but usually is extremely difficult to endure.
This one is a bit messy. King goes through each abduction in something other than chronological order, which makes this hard to follow for the first 200 pages. Once the battle between Tak and his captives begins in earnest, it finds its groove. While not mentioned in the novel, The Dark Tower‘s presence looms. You know Tak is something Roland Deschane will eventually have to confront, and the protags, though never stated, forms a ka-tet, a group whom fate has tasked with a mission. It’s slow going and not as clear as Insomnia or The Green Mile (which seems to exist outside the King universe, as does Carrie.)