– Guest review contributed by Ron Hervey’s Whodunit –
The year is 1978. Morris Bellamy murders his literary idol, John Rothstein. Bellamy is not only infuriated with Rothstein because he has stopped writing books, but also how he ended the series with his famous character, Jimmy Gold, “selling out.” After the murder, Bellamy discovers well over $20,000 of Rothstein’s cash and more than 100 notebooks filled with his unpublished writing.
Bellamy buries the cash and notebooks, but is arrested for an unrelated crime and sent to the slammer for 35 years before he has a chance to read the unpublished material.
Fast forward to 2010. Teenager Pete Saubers, who also happens to be a huge John Rothstein fan, stumbles upon Bellamy’s buried stash. Saubers’ family had fallen on hard times. Not only did his father loose his real estate job a couple years ago, but also was badly injured during the same job fair massacre that opened the first novel in this series, Mr. Mercedes. Pete helps his family out by anonymously mailing the cash he found to his parents in monthly increments.
Released from prison, Bellamy returns to reclaim his hidden cash and notebooks, only to discover that they are now in Pete’s possession.
Enter Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson from the Finders Keepers Detective Agency, the same three that were the heroes of Mr. Mercedes. Can they intercede in time to save Pete from the murderous Bellamy?
Finders Keepers, published by Scribner on June 2, 2015, is the second installment of the Bill Hodges Trilogy.
If you are expecting one of Stephen King’s horror stories, this book is not what you are looking for. However, I would suggest that you read “Finders Keepers” anyway. I’ll explain my reasoning at the end of this review.
Stephen King seems to be a flash-point in the mystery and suspense world. Many die-hard mystery readers claim that King’s mastery of the written word is suited for horror, but falls short when it comes to mystery. In my opinion, it is just the opposite. I think that King writes exceptionally when he steps out of his horror roots.
I’m not sure if it has anything to do with writing outside his comfort zone, but it’s my belief is that his mystery/crime/suspense books are some of his best. I must not be the only one with this opinion. King won an Edgar Award (Mystery Writers of America) for best novel for Mr. Mercedes. His novel Joylandwas also nominated for a Best Original Paperback Edgar in 2014.
As with all of King’s stories, he is a master at developing characters. He seldom has “cardboard” characters that are flat and seem lifeless. In fact, characters are his strong point. I found the characters of Morris Bellamy and Pete Saubers to be fully “fleshed” out. Pete’s character dripped of youthful innocence, while you despise the murderous Bellamy.
King has never lacked at creating monsters that you hate. Morris Bellamy is no different, although, I felt that Brady Hartfield, the villain of Mr. Mercedes, had more of an evil persona. Hartfield does have a few scenes in “Finders Keepers.” Hartfield is still hanging around and will play a major role in the last book of the series.
Although I thought that the very beginning of Finders Keepers was a tad slow, I felt that the overall pace was even better than Mr. Mercedes. King grabs your attention early, and then keeps you turning the pages for the rest of the novel. There are no yawns after the story takes off.
One of the few complaints that I have with King’s books is that sometimes his endings can be a little disappointing. Revival, for instance, I liked all the way to the end, but the ending was such a letdown that it ruined the whole book for me. There are no such discrepancies with Finders Keepers.
The ending was satisfying enough, but I damn near got whiplash from the last page. I didn’t see coming at all. I grinned for several minutes knowing that I just got “Kinged.” King is taking the characters from the first two books of this crime/suspense series and dragging them down into his dark world of horror and the supernatural with the last book of the series. Mystery readers may not like the finale, but personally, I can’t wait.
The third installment of the Bill Hodges Trilogy, End of Watch is set to be released by Scribner on June 7, 2016.
Guest review contributed by Ron Hervey’s Whodunit. Here you can find new releases, book reviews, and book news.