Joyland - Stephen King
At heart this is a sentimental Bildungsroman for a college young man who’s tending what he thinks is a broken heart, but written from the perspective of a 60 year old. 

It's a straightforward murder mystery, and one which King saturates with his own usual quivers-and-shudders here and there to keep you alert. 

I had a few problem with it. It's not the story itself that's the problem. The scene of the amusement park with a dark history is a surprisingly underused setting in thriller fiction, and the overall details and description give the book a "ring-true" portrayal of the epoch.

The protagonist tells the story of his summer at the park when he was 21 when he was desolated from an ill-fated college love. His friends and fellow carnival employees are lively and unique characters (on the surface).

What was missing for me, and why this book is only three stars, is the "life" (or lack thereof) of the characters beyond the surface. The characters from "The Stand" are some of the most rounded in all of literature. Not with the ones here.

Another main ingredient lacking is the dialogue and how the characters interact. The interactions move the plot along, but they rarely feel like real people talking. The fact that the book is aimed at the pulp-paperback market is no excuse.