Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub (Random House ), 910 pages, $29.95 paper. Rating: NNN
At their best, Stephen King and Peter Straub lead the werewolf pack when they're writing about supernatural evil. In Black House, the pair gallop at full throttle. In the 80s, the horror-meisters collaborated on The Talisman, a fantasy about parallel universes in which the boy Jack Sawyer saves the life of his B-movie star mother in this world and her counterpart in the Territories. Now Sawyer is a retired policeman in small-town Wisconsin, forced back into work and to remember his submerged past when a serial killer starts to prey on children. He fights the good fight with -- among others -- a motorcycle gang who quote Auden and the Grateful Dead, a blind DJ and a woman charged with otherworldly power. Despite flaws -- an annoying use of the omniscient narrator(s) and a weak final confrontation -- Black House is compelling, with King's Dark Tower series neatly worked into the swirling narrative.