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Stephen King’s ‘Holly’ Is A Journey Into The Dark Heart Of Noir Crime Fiction

Stephen King reached an enviable milestone in his literary career long ago. With over sixty international bestsellers, King is the unparalleled master of horror, boasting an overwhelmingly creative universe and exceptional storytelling abilities.

In 2014, King made a foray into the noir crime genre with Mr. Mercedes, the first book in a trilogy featuring detective Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney, a private investigator who gradually gained prominence in various King books and is now the protagonist of her own story in Holly (Scribner, 2023).

In his foreword to If it Bleeds (Scribner, 2020), a novella that marked Detective Holly Gibney’s first solo flight after the Bill Hodges trilogy, King said, “I just love Holly, and I wish she were a real person… She just walked into the first book she was in, Mr. Mercedes, and she more or less stole the book, and she stole my heart.”

In Holly, Gibney is still the head of Finders Keepers, the private detective agency she inherited from Hodges, focusing mainly on small cases. Young siblings Jerome and Barbara Robinson, well-known to readers of the trilogy, along with their partner Pete, join Holly to solve a peculiar case.

Holly skillfully uncovers a thread that reveals a series of seemingly unrelated disappearances. These long-ignored crimes have a common link: a bizarre, elderly couple. Don’t worry — there are no spoilers here. It’s not a mystery novel, nor a thriller wrapped around a mystery. We know who the bad guys are here. What we don’t know is when they are going to cross paths with Holly, how she’s going to nail them for their crimes, and what they’ll do to Holly in the process. If there is one thing certain about King’s novels, it’s that his characters never emerge unscathed. The book unfolds in two intertwined timelines.

Between 2018 and 2021, we watch these two illustrious professors commit their crimes, the why of their crimes is also revealed. The novel then jumps to the present, when Holly decides to go after the couple. It’s the most procedural part of the book, much like a typical crime novel and packed with intricate details.

Holly’s solo flight carries a certain risk: the danger of becoming a cliché, someone who evokes sympathy due to her particular flaws. However, Holly Gibney defies these concerns and emerges as a well-constructed character.

This novel, along with future stories planned by the author (King has already hinted at some), will ensure her enduring presence in the King universe. It’s evident that King understands the importance of continuity in a genre filled with iconic heroes like Sherlock Holmes, Harry Bosch, John Rebus, Petra Delicado and Tess Monaghan.

Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway in a scene from the 'Mr. Mercedes' television series.

Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway in a scene from the ‘Mr. Mercedes’ television series.

Holly has faced significant losses in her life. Her mentor and friend Bill Hodges passed away from pancreatic cancer. Her cousin Janey was killed by a psychopath, who also drove another cousin to suicide. Brady Hartsfield, the antagonist of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, was responsible for these tragedies. Holly also had a difficult relationship with her mother, Mrs. Charlotte, who tragically succumbed to Covid-19 at the beginning of this novel (which includes more than a few digs at Donald Trump).

Holly stopped smoking in If it Bleeds, but here she has succumbed once again to her nicotine addiction. She now confidently maintains direct eye contact during interrogations, stands tall with her shoulders back, and confronts problems head-on.

Despite her aversion to violence, she may reluctantly resort to it when required. As a 55-year-old frustrated poet, she has overcome numerous challenges and accomplished a great deal. Holly Gibney is no longer the train wreck we once knew.

One of the secondary plotlines in the book is about young Barbara, an aspiring poet and future Princeton student who is mentored by a legendary author. This storyline adds a fascinating element of love for literature.

It is clear that King understands the importance of integrating each layer of the story into the broader plot. This integration plays a decisive role in maintaining the rhythm and final resolution of the book. King stays within the bounds of reality, while still delivering the horror we have come to expect from supernatural tales like End of Watch and If it Bleeds.

King also explores another key element of crime fiction: social themes. Without being preachy, King weaves in elements like the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump’s erosive impact on social harmony in the United States, and the Covid-19 pandemic. These themes are seamlessly woven into the plot and the characters’ attitudes.

The pandemic is prominently featured in the novel, (King has tweeted extensively in favor of vaccines, science and facemasks, and against conspiracy theorists), and the author’s own attitudes are reflected in the character of Holly. In an afterword, King assures that he would have fairly represented a Covid-denier if he had chosen to include a main character with these views.

“You know, just when you think you’ve seen the worst that human beings have to offer… turns out, you’re wrong. There is no end to evil,” says one of the secondary characters, a phrase that Holly makes her own. The only consolation is that this evil continues to be part of the literary corpus of horror masters like King, and now also in his noir novels.

Bill Hodges once confided in Holly that his literary tastes were limited to Michael Connelly’s stories about detective Harry Bosch, and Ed McBain’s police procedurals set in the 87th Precinct. In his unique style, Stephen King showcases his crime genre prowess with the exceptional Holly, placing him on par with these timeless classics.


Choco: Revolutionizing The FoodTech Industry With Innovation & Sustainability | EU20

By Clint Bailey

— In the rapidly evolving world of food technology, European startup Choco has emerged as a pioneering force. With its website,, this Berlin-based company is transforming the way food industry professionals operate by leveraging innovative digital solutions. By linking restaurants, distributors, suppliers, and producers on a single platform, Choco is streamlining the supply chain process while promoting sustainability.

Let’s explore the journey of and its impact on the overall foodtech industry.

  1. Company: Choco Technologies GmbH
  2. Website:
  3. Head Office: Berlin, Germany
  4. Year Established: 2018
  5. Founders: Choco was co-founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio da Silva.
  6. Industry: Choco operates in the foodtech industry, specifically focusing on digitizing the supply chain for the food industry.
  7. Funding: Choco has secured significant funding rounds from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners & Coatue Management.
  8. Market Presence: Choco has a strong presence in several European cities, including Berlin, Paris, London & Barcelona.
  9. Mission: Choco aims to revolutionize the food industry by leveraging technology to simplify supply chain management, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.

Simplifying Supply Chain Management

One of the core focuses of Choco is to simplify supply chain management for food businesses. Traditionally, the procurement process in the food industry has been cumbersome and inefficient, with numerous intermediaries and manual processes. Choco’s digital platform replaces the traditional paper-based ordering system, allowing restaurants and suppliers to communicate and collaborate seamlessly.

Choco’s platform enables restaurants to place orders directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, or emails. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications.

By digitizing the ordering process, Choco improves transparency, making it easier for restaurants to compare prices, track deliveries, and manage inventory efficiently.

Streamlining Operations For Suppliers & Producers

Choco’s impact extends beyond restaurants. The platform also provides suppliers and producers with valuable tools to streamline their operations. By digitizing their product catalogs and integrating them into the Choco platform, suppliers can showcase their offerings to a wide network of potential buyers.

Suppliers benefit from increased visibility, enabling them to reach new customers and expand their market presence. Moreover, Choco’s platform helps suppliers manage their inventory, track orders, and plan deliveries effectively. These features enhance operational efficiency, reduce waste, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable food system.
YouTube Channel

Promoting Sustainability & Reducing Food Waste

Choco recognizes the critical importance of sustainability in the food industry. According to the United Nations, approximately one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste each year. By digitizing the supply chain and enabling more efficient ordering and inventory management, Choco actively works to combat this issue.

Air France – Deals & Destinations

Choco’s platform facilitates data-driven decision-making for restaurants, suppliers, and producers. By analyzing purchasing patterns & demand, Choco helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing food waste. Additionally, Choco supports local sourcing, enabling businesses to connect with nearby suppliers & promote sustainable, community-based practices.

Expanding Reach & Impact

Since its founding in 2018, Choco has experienced rapid growth and expansion. The startup has successfully secured significant funding rounds, allowing it to scale its operations and establish a strong presence across Europe and other global markets. Today, Choco’s platform is used by thousands of restaurants and suppliers, revolutionizing the way they operate.

Choco’s impact extends beyond operational efficiency or sustainability. By connecting restaurants, suppliers & producers on a single platform, Choco fosters collaboration & encourages the exchange of ideas. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall foodtech ecosystem and creates a supportive community of like-minded aiming to drive positive change within the industry.

Future Of FoodTech

Choco’s rise to prominence in the foodtech industry exemplifies the reach of sustainability, innovation, and community. Through its user-friendly platform, Choco simplifies supply chain management, streamlines operations for restaurants & suppliers, and actively promotes sustainable practices. By harnessing the potential of digital, Choco is disrupting the future of the food industry, making it more efficient and transparent.

As Choco continues to expand its impact and reach, its transformative influence on the foodtech sector is set to inspiring, grow other startups, and established players to embrace technology for a better and more sustainable food system.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— Compiled by Clint Bailey | Team ‘Voice of EU’
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The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

A faded felt bicorne hat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for $2.1 million at an auction on of the French emperor’s belongings.

Yes, that’s $2.1 million!!

The signature broad, black hat, one of a handful still in existence that Napoleon wore when he ruled 19th-century France and waged war in Europe, was initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros ($650,000-870,000). It was the centerpiece of Sunday’s auction collected by a French industrialist who died last year.

The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

But the bidding quickly jumped higher and higher until Jean Pierre Osenat, president of the Osenat auction house, designated the winner.

‘’We are at 1.5 million (Euros) for Napoleon’s hat … for this major symbol of the Napoleonic epoch,” he said, as applause rang out in the auction hall. The buyer, whose identity was not released, must pay 28.8% in commissions according to Osenat, bringing the overall cost to 1.9 million euros ($2.1 million).

While other officers customarily wore their bicorne hats with the wings facing front to back, Napoleon wore his with the ends pointing toward his shoulders. The style, known as “en bataille,” or in battle, made it easier for his troops to spot their leader in combat.

The hat on sale was first recovered by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoleon, according to the auctioneers. The hat then passed through many hands before industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez acquired it.

The entrepreneur spent more than a half-century assembling his collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, firearms, swords and coins before his death in 2022.

The sale came days before the release of Ridley Scott’s film Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix, which is rekindling interest in the controversial French ruler.

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The Call for AI Regulation in Creative Industries

THE VOICE OF EU | Widespread concerns have surged among artists and creatives in various domains – country singers, authors, television showrunners, and musicians – voicing apprehension about the disruptive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on their professions.

These worries have prompted an urgent plea to the U.S. government for regulatory action to protect their livelihoods from the encroaching threat posed by AI technology.

The Artists’ Plea

A notable rise in appeals to regulate AI has emerged, drawing attention to the potential risks AI poses to creative industries.

Thousands of letters, including those from renowned personalities like Justine Bateman and Lilla Zuckerman, underscore the peril AI models represent to the traditional structure of entertainment businesses.

The alarm extends to the music industry, expressed by acclaimed songwriter Marc Beeson, highlighting AI’s potential to both enhance and jeopardize an essential facet of American artistry.

The Call for AI Regulation in Creative Industries

Copyright Infringement Concerns

The primary contention arises from the unsanctioned use of copyrighted human works as fodder to train AI systems. The concerns about AI ingesting content from the internet without permission or compensation have sparked significant distress among artists and their representative entities.

While copyright laws explicitly protect works of human authorship, the influx of AI-generated content questions the boundaries of human contribution and authorship in an AI-influenced creative process.

The Fair Use Debate

Leading technology entities like Google, Microsoft, and Meta Platforms argue that their utilization of copyrighted materials in AI training aligns with the “fair use” doctrine—a limited use of copyrighted material for transformative purposes.

They claim that AI training isn’t aimed at reproducing individual works but rather discerning patterns across a vast corpus of content, citing precedents like Google’s legal victories in the digitization of books.

The Conflict and Seeking Resolution

Despite court rulings favoring tech companies in interpreting copyright laws regarding AI, voices like Heidi Bond, a former law professor and author, critique this comparison, emphasizing that AI developers often obtain content through unauthorized means.

Shira Perlmutter, the U.S. Register of Copyrights, acknowledges the Copyright Office’s pivotal role in navigating this complex landscape and determining the legitimacy of the fair use defense in the AI context.

The Road Ahead

The outpouring of concern from creative professionals and industry stakeholders emphasizes the urgency for regulatory frameworks to safeguard creative works while acknowledging the evolving role of AI in content creation.

The Copyright Office’s meticulous review of over 9,700 public comments seeks to strike a balance between innovation and the protection of creative rights in an AI-driven era. As the discussion continues, the convergence of legal precedents and ethical considerations remains a focal point for shaping the future landscape of AI in creative industries.

Thank You For Your Support!

— By Darren Wilson, Team

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