By Gregory Kirschling
Updated October 04, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Is From a Buick 8 Stephen King’s last real novel? He insists as much, and — bad sign — his latest main character is a dissatisfied storyteller. A Pennsylvania state trooper fills a mournful teen in on the confounding history of a grinning, otherworldly Roadmaster that may or may not have offed the boy’s father. As the author of Christine has wearily conceded, this is a used-car concept. But, reheated plot aside, ”Buick 8” doesn’t feel like a winding-down; King’s still on fire when it comes to creating breathing characters and evocative settings. His own zest for storytelling suggests as loudly as his claims to the contrary that he’s got plenty left for his ”Constant Readers.”