Who Should Read This Book – Stephen King fans (obviously) but especially readers of fiction who might not like horror but want to read some King. This whole series (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and this one) would be a fine entry into the non-horror side of King.
What’s the Big Takeaway – King is known for stories of supernatural evil and horror (Pennywise the clown in It, for example). Yet forces of death and destruction are seen in the everyday, caused by seemingly normal people like Brady Hartsfield
A Quote or two:
“Because things can get better, and if you give them a chance, they usually do” (End of Watch)
“Rich people can be generous, even the ones with bloodcurdling political views can be generous, but most believe in generosity on their own terms, and underneath (not so deep, either), they’re always afraid someone is going to steal their presents and eat their birthday cake” (Mr. Mercedes)
Stephen King is most known for a genius of horror, but the open secret is that he has plenty of books that are not of the horror genre. I stayed away from reading King for far too long, because I am not a fan of horror. Yet from the Dark Tower series to Hearts in Atlantis to Different Seasons, King clearly is more than this horror-writer stereotype. He shows this yet again in what is known as the Bill Hodges trilogy, named after the main character who is a retired detective.
The first book in this series, Mr. Mercedes, begins with a terrible crime that leaves dozens dead and injured. Bill Hodges is unable to solve it before he retires, but the perpetrator, Brady Hartsfield, begins to stalk Hodges a year after the crime, hoping to drive him deep into despair and suicide.
The second book, Finders Keepers, does not see Hodges appear till about halfway through. This one begins with a reclusive author and is the story about his rumored unpublished works. We see some common character types: writers, preteen boys, in this story.
Finally, End of Watch brings back Brady Hartsfield. Like the first two, it is an entertaining page-turner. Hartsfield has developed some mysterious powers that enables him to control people. When I stepped back and thought about it, I was skeptical. The story takes place in 2016 and we’re supposed to believe teenagers with smartphones were all playing some old-timey video game system? A fishing game? Really?
Then one morning my kids were playing games on their school iPads. It was before school, don’t judge me! I heard one of them say, “I like the fishing game!”
So reading a story where a fishing game hypnotizes people and allows their minds to be taken over while hearing my kids are playing a fishing game was a bit creepy. It might have been more believable if the kids were hypnotized by an app on their phones or something. But that aside, it was a gripping and exciting story.
This is an entertaining series that would make a great summer read.