An unusual store, Needful Things, opens downtown in Castle Rock, Maine, in October of 1991. The store's mysterious proprietor, Leland Gaunt, somehow has an object with irresistible appeal for each customer. Not only does Gaunt produce items his customers find they absolutely must have, for their own private reasons, but the prices he charges are astonishingly low--at least when it comes to the monetary exchange. But for each transaction, Gaunt insists upon a dollar amount plus one "harmless prank." The pranks are generally directed at someone the customer has no personal connection to, and Gaunt assures the customer that the pranks are truly harmless.
The pranks are actually calculated to ignite rivalries and resentments, as they essentially frame someone who had nothing to do with the prank in question. At the same time, each of Gaunt's customers becomes increasingly obsessed with, protective of, and paranoid about the object purchased. They are convinced that someone will steal the prized possession, so they become hyper-vigilant about it.
With the pranks causing domino effects leading to ever-escalating acts of violence, and Gaunt somehow knowing intimate secrets about every customer--and possibly every town resident--what hope does the town have that sanity will prevail and Gaunt's spell can be broken?
This book sucked me in effectively, and I enjoyed Stephen King's narration. (Though I was startled when he pronounced "coiffed" as "koyfed.") The book makes references to several other "Castle Rock" stories, and unfortunately, I'd only read two (Cujo and "The Body"). People who have read all of the previous books and stories can expect a richer experience for it. Without giving away the ending, I will say that I found it satisfying.