The Missing (series 2), Stephen King’s 11.22.63, and the virtues of voting wisely

I’ve been catching up with lots of TV lately – Australian political thriller The Code (very good) and the new series of The Missing (BBC1), which also has me completely gripped.

the-missing-2

Series 1 of The Missing involved the disappearance of a young boy, Oliver Hughes, on a family holiday in France. The new series cleverly flips that ‘missing child’ scenario by opening with the unexpected reappearance of Alice Webster, a young woman abducted as a schoolgirl over a decade before. The main connection to series 1 is Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo), the retired French police detective who investigated Oliver’s case, and who is now drawn to Alice by her possible link to a second abducted girl, Sophie Giroux. Aside from him, there’s a new set of characters featuring wonderful British actors such as Keeley Hawes, David Morrissey and Roger Allam. Hawes stands out for me in particular as Alice’s mother Gemma.

There were mutterings from some viewers after episode 1 about the difficulties of keeping track of three timelines (2003 when Alice was abducted, 2014 when she returns home, and the present day), but it’s very much worth persevering as those temporal layers create a wonderfully rich story. And while the drama feels very British in tone, its international settings and characters give it added depth: the Webster family live on a fictional military base in Eckhausen in Germany; we see British military police working together with German police and (with some reluctance) the French detective; the latter’s investigations even take him to Iraq for a while. And every single episode has had a twist that will make you drop your knitting – especially episode 4! I’m looking forward to the rest immensely.

king-22-11-63

I’m a little late to this party – Stephen King’s 2011 time-travel epic 22.11.63, which sees English teacher Jake Epping step back into a 1958 America, five years before President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. The big question at the heart of the narrative – ‘would you change history if you had the chance?’ – is explored in an inventive and nuanced fashion.

Like some of King’s other novels, such as Dolores Claiborne (a favourite of mine), 22.11.63 draws on elements of the crime and thriller genres. Alongside the infamous murder of Kennedy, there’s a second murder case that takes up a significant part of the narrative. Both of these place Jake in the role of a detective tracking suspects, and in the role of a potential murderer, as he *could* stop the perpetrators from committing their crimes by killing them. But taking such action would obviously raise serious ethical questions, leaving Jake with some tough choices to make…

King does a brilliant job of depicting Jake’s incredible journey back to ‘the Land of Ago’, and recreates the America of the late 1950s and early 1960s in meticulous, loving detail. The mechanics of time travel are given interesting new twists, and the ending is extremely satisfying. Two minor reservations include the sheer length of the novel (I listened to the 30-HOUR audiobook version) and the odd bit of excessive sentimentality (but that could just be me). Hats off to audiobook narrator Craig Wasson, who does a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life, and I must admit that I’m now curious to see the 2016 TV adaptation with James Franco.

Stephen King, 11.22.63 (Hodder and Stoughton, 2011).

a-better-life

Time to liberate this little chap!

All this talk of American presidents reminds me that there’s a certain US election next week. We’ll be watching the results with baited breath on this side of the pond, and hope that our American friends can learn from the Brexit Omnishambles here in the UK.

The EU Referendum taught us that:

  • not voting is not an option. VOTE!
  • protest votes are a luxury you can’t afford. VOTE WISELY!
  • talking to swing voters can make a difference. EVERY VOTE COUNTS!
  • and that there’s NO ROOM FOR COMPLACENCY (polls are fickle, so pretend your candidate’s 12 points down).

Good luck! And for anyone still undecided, I’ll just leave this here: The New York Times endorsement of Hillary Clinton. You might also want to check out this utterly inspiring and hopeful website: I’ve waited 96 years. It’s simply wonderful.

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31 thoughts on “The Missing (series 2), Stephen King’s 11.22.63, and the virtues of voting wisely

    • Well if our experience can help others… *fingers firmly crossed*. A master storyteller – yes, absolutely. I’m always in awe of the way King can draw readers into a story, and would happily read a laundry list if it was written by him.

  1. I just started reading King (Misery was good) and just getting started on his lengthy novel, 11/22/63. Not sure if I want to see the series version but curious as well. As for American politics, I don’t understand why the choice is difficult. One is sane and the other one isn’t. Anyway, wise advice and thanks for the write up.

    • Thanks for your comment Keishon. It’s often good to let a little time go by before watching a TV adaptation so that the book and adaptation don’t ‘clash’. And then there’s sometimes the problem of having loved a book so much that you don’t want an alternative visualisation to mess it up. But it looks like the series got pretty good reviews, so I might give it a go at some point. Like you, I’m curious. Getting the whole novel down to 8 episodes is quite a feat and I’d be interested to see how they did it.

      I think lots of people are still scratching their heads about the election (I mean who would have thought he could get so far?). Hope with all my heart that logic prevails.

  2. Thank you, thank you, for that link to I’ve Waited 96 Years. I had not seen it and I am overcome with emotion. I am grateful myself to finally be able to vote for a woman for President.

    • Isn’t it amazing? So glad I was able to pass it on today (just came across it by complete chance). I will be going back every day to read some more of the stories. Sending every good thought for a successful outcome and a Madame President.

  3. I was absolutely blubbering when I first saw that “I waited 96 years” site a few days ago.

    I have 2 members of my family both proudly talking of voting for Drumpf. My brother (a white, well-educated and extremely privileged individual) and one of his daughters. I actually don’t know how to deal with this scenario. Our family has always been heavily political and I know I am the black sheep (being the hippy, greenie, leftie in a sea of conservatives) but I have always thought it possible to get along with just about anyone. But we have had screaming arguments across the globe in recent weeks and I am struggling with the thought that I am suddenly related to people who I really, really do not understand on any level.

    • Oh Bernadette – this sounds like such an upsetting and difficult situation. I really feel for you. I try to steer clear of political discussions with my family (for the sake of family harmony!), but it would be impossible not to say something in this kind of instance given the importance of this election result. It sounds like you’ve done your absolute best to make them see sense, and it’s difficult to know what more you could do, especially at such a distance. All very bruising and I really hope things work out.

  4. So many topics here. Is “Missing” another season of the “Missing” series about a young boy who vanished and his father’s obsessive, yet understandable search to find out what happened to him. And then goes off the deep end. That was such a painful series I don’t know if I can watch another season like that.
    On Stephen King, I don’t like his horror/fantasy/science fiction-type books, but I will say that “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Dolores Claiborne” are among my favorite movies. And I believe “Shawshank” is his favorite. He is a good guy and I enjoy seeing him on TV.
    On the elections here, what can I say? If a certain misogynist, nationalist bigot wins, I buy a one-way ticket somewhere. I’d say to Britain, but I don’t want to run into Brexit voters or the upheaval going on now about the high court decision ordering that Parliament must decide on Brexit. The antis must be related to the Trumpites, as a friend calls them, over here. I must escape.
    On voting for a woman president, it’s a big step. She has a lot to deal with because even if she wins, the opposition will not stop trying everything it can to put obstacles in her way and go after her. So, fun and games over here — NOT! And the election will not end the contentiousness, hostility or obstructionism.
    My family, the relatives I was close to, are progressive people, as were my late parents, grandparents and aunt on one side of the family. The other side I stay away from once I heard their bigotry. Don’t go near them. I often wonder how my father, a progressive person, union organizer and Civil Rights Movement supporter, would deal with his relatives. I just walk away.
    And my friends are like-minded, so no arguments here.

    • Hi Kathy – Yes, The Missing series 2 follows on from the one you mentioned. I have to confess that I didn’t see that one, but from what I can remember the reception was as you say: good, but with some reservations about the ending.

      If you liked The Shawshank Redemption and Dolores Claibourne, then you would *probably* like 11.22.63 (I’m being cautious, because of course all of our reading tastes are individual). As in those two novels, there’s some fantastic characterisation and storytelling, and a lot of heart.

      Definitely not fun and games this election cycle. I spent a lot of time in the States in my youth, and love the energy and diversity of your country and its people. It’s horrible to see such division and conflict. May the right candidate pull through (and do your dad proud).

  5. I haven’t read the King book but watched the tv adaptation practically in one sitting. It was utterly brilliant. And then I found out King had a hand in it so I wasn’t surprised. A must watch. Though if you’ve read the book I don’t know how it would compare.

    Personally terrified by Tuesdays vote. Please please don’t let hell happen.

    • Ooh, thanks Rebecca. Great to hear that recommendation – will try to get hold of a copy.

      As for Tuesday, the tension’s going to be pretty unbearable, isn’t it? 😦

  6. Thanks for those well wishes. My father would have been so glad that President Obama was elected twice. I voted for Obama partially for my father.
    And who knows what will be? Weird things are already happening: People walking around polling places with guns, judges allowing or denying voting restrictions, a guy (Republican) beaten up at a Trump rally in Reno because he held a Republicans Against Trump sign. Five guys tackled him. And on and on. The rest of the world must think it’s crazy here, but then again the Brexit crowd has certainly been obstreporous and dangerous.

    • Yes, there have been worrying developments here, including a recent very hostile, tabloid-fuelled attack on High Court judges who have ruled that Parliament must debate the triggering of Article 50 to leave the EU (rather than our Prime Minister doing so executively). The judges are applying constitutional law going back hundreds of years, but are being branded as undemocratic. Very troubling indeed.

  7. I noticed Theresa May in a nazi uniform with a sign in fractur font (German’s) saying “Make Britain Great Again.” which comeone posted at Eva Dolan (great writer) Twitter page. What is this? The 1800s and days of colonialism? Or days of World Wars? Really. These slogans are very outdated and unneeded. What does “great” mean” bully? take over the world? Get rid of people of color, immigrants?
    In the States, except for the Indigenous people who were here for 15,000 years or more, and Africans bought here involuntarily, everyone else is an immigrant of descendant of an immigrant.
    By the way, see The Man from Beijing, based on Mankell’s book. It’s quite something about the past in the U.S. and current China, although how accurate that is I’m not sure.

    • Hmmm. That slogan is reminiscent of Trump, isn’t it? Though the image sounds like it’s designed as a political dig at May (I agree that we should be very worried if it’s not).

      I remember thinking that The Man from Beijing was a very thought-provoking read. Will have to go back and take another look. It’s interesting when books take on added relevance long after publication…

  8. Confession time: I haven’t read any Stephen King. Ever. However, I have wondered for years if 11.22.63 was the book that would turn me into a die-hard King fan. But, it’s not horror! Also, as I write this today I love the ‘voting wisely’ reference, and my heart aches for my two favourite countries in the world. Your guidelines to vote wisely should be emailed to everyone.

    • Hi Elena – no Stephen King ever? Oooh, you have treats ahead 🙂 Try Dolores Claibourne – that one will definitely interest you.

      Voting wisely… Alas, that didn’t work out so well this time *sigh*. Like so many, I have a very heavy heart at the moment, but intend to hang on to the hope and courage of HRC’s concession speech. Lots there to bolster us in relation to Brexit and the UK as well. On we go!

      • I almost bought Dolores Claibourne last June in Cardiff for just a pound and then I did not. And now I shall repent.

  9. Thank you–I loved your “American Pie” post. As an American, I appreciate so much your compassion. It’s now time for Americans who voted for Clinton to become involved in activism–to fight despair in this way, and to help the people in our country who will be most harmed by a Trump presidency.

  10. Oh, the elections. I ate junk food since then and finished Peter May’s stand-alone “Coffin Road.” Now I’m trying not to gain 25 pounds and am watching crime fiction dvd’s and have a pile of books to read. And just reading who was appointed to a top position in the White House, an anti-Semite and white supremacist, is enough to make one ill.
    Over here, yes, it’s xenophobia, but also racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny. Hate crimes have gone up. People are scared.
    And, as for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders is the only one to have come out with a strong statement — an op-ed in the New York Times, which shows he’s for activism and protesting hatred. Good for him. I hope he has a lot of healthy years ahead of him.
    I hope they stand up and do something. So far very little out of them.
    But, so far, the young folks around the country have protested for five days in a row. I hope they can sustain it as there is a long, hard road ahead of us.

    • Hello Kathy. A long, hard road indeed. I still can’t quite believe this has happened and feel for everyone in America who is anxious or afraid about what’s to come. Here’s to lots of strong voices upholding democratic values and civil liberties. And may reading provide you with some solace and distraction.

  11. The American Civil Liberties Union raised $9 million and got 150,000 new members in the week since the election.
    Saw the director on TV; his first concern is about immigrants being deported without cause, just pulled out and sent out of the country with no reason.
    It’s a tough period, even watching the news with the Cabinet and other appointments. I feel like we’re in the Middle Ages.

    • It must be unbelievably tough, Kathy. Very glad to hear about the surge in support for the ACLU – and to see its open letter to the President-elect in the New York Times (11 Nov). Coming out fighting right away, which is so important.

  12. Agree with you on that. And lots of bloggers are posting organizations which will fight back and need donations. A good idea.
    Looking at this proposed “Cabinet” just sends me to read crime fiction. I can barely look at the New York Times, usually a daily read for me. I’m skipping a lot of its news now.

    • I’m doing the same. Just dipping into the news here and there, but avoiding being pulled down too many internet rabbit-holes. The blood pressure just shoots up straight away if I do.

      Good that you’re focusing on the positive as far as possible. I’m trying to do the same in relation to Brexit…

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