Here's part 2 of my weekend with King: Finders Keepers.
As a wise man once wrote, "It's the oldest law in history: finders-keepers." (Stephen King wrote that! You are a true Constant Reader if you know what book it's from.)
Wow. I read a wide variety of old and new books, debut novels, non-fiction, short stories, works by famous authors, works by nobodys, you name it, I've tried it or it's on the list. I also get a lot of advance readers, so I often take a chance on books that I probably wouldn't buy for myself. But there is nothing like coming back to a good writer, and a damn good book, to remind yourself why reading is so, so sweet.
Ever since I devoured Mr. Mercedes, I knew I would be biting at the bit to get this one. That book is definitely different, though it is a kissing cousin to the horror novels that made King into a household name. Finders Keepers carries on in that tradition, with elements of crime fiction, mystery, thriller, and of course, horror. I go into the first book here if you're interested. King continues on with Finders Keepers, showing us that he's one old dog that not only still has new tricks, he's also got space left in his backyard for plenty more dead bodies.
I really enjoyed the way this story twines around Mr. Mercedes, using some of the same characters in unexpected ways, proving that lightning may not strike the exact same place twice, but it can get damn near close. It gets into another family who was affected by the Mercedes Killer's murderous rampage in the car that gave him his namesake. And because main character Pete's dad was badly hurt at the City Center massacre, Pete ends up stealing something that isn't his and climbing down the rabbithole. Only this rabbit's got fangs (think Monty Python, right?) and he's coming back for what's his.
And of course. old Det. Ret. Hodges is back, and he's even better than before, with his own private-eye sort of business. He, Holly, and the Happy Slapper (you'll have to dive in to figure out what that is) have a good thing going, and Hodges is good at what he does.
But at the same time, Finders Keepers is very much it's own story. The moments of crossover give it body, make it reside in a world that exists, one that's getting scarier and more real all the time. It's a bit similar to what he did with Desperation and The Regulators, only here it's more interconnected, and more successful, in my opinion.
We so often think of books and movies as one-offs, like they exist in some vacuum-sealed space where nothing else can touch them. The movie only contains what you see on the screen, and when it's over, that's all there is. Here, the world already exists, this book is just showing you another slice of it. But don't writers do this all the time, you say? Like with crime fiction series that follow that one hard-boiled, defiant, cop/inspector/detective who always goes through hell but gets the guy in the end? Well, yes, that's true. But this is NOT that. That shit don't mean shit.
I would say that Hodges—who fills the broken cop/inspector/detective shoes—isn't even a main character at this rodeo. He stops by for a visit, and don't get me wrong: he is crucial, but the story isn't about him. It's about another person who inhabits the same world as him. It reminds the reader that this world is real, it's our world--we just live in a different corner of it from these people and we are here living our own stories oblivious even to the stories that our own neighbors are living.
And here's where it really gets scary. Remember how in my Mr. Mercedes review I made such a big deal about how the book is outside of the realm of King's other books because, among other reasons, it lacks any sort of supernatural leaning? Well I have news for you. And it's waiting for you in Room 217.
Oh, yes, it's back, though you'll have to read for yourself to find out how and who's residing there now. King can't seem to help himself; it's like he's haunted or stuck there, waiting, with the woman in the bathtub always on the edge of lifting herself up and throttling his neck. But you gotta keep writing, in the meantime, don't stop for nothing, Stevie boy! It's good to write with her fingers almost around your throat. . .
We'll have to wait to see what emerges since the Room 217 plot point is a sure set-up for book 3, but if we learned anything from The Shining, it's that nothing good ever resides in Room 217.
Here's to #3, Mr. King. We'll be waiting for you, and for Brady Hartsfield as well.
Get your copies of the Bill Hodges Trilogy
End of Watch
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Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.