By Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author’s Journal | Read Date 3.05.22 | TW: Violence, Trauma, Language
Have you Read “the Bill Hodges Trilogy”?
Tell me what you thought!
An odd sequel, but a home run nonetheless.
Back in 1978, obsessive literary fan and troubled youth, Morris Bellamy seeks to track down the unpublished notebooks of his favorite author John Rothstein — King’s fictional great American novelist. But when things go haywire with his crew, Bellamy ends up in prison for 35 years.
Now in 2014, Bellamy is on parole and needs to get to something that he’s buried back out behind his old childhood home. Only problem is, the house is now occupied by the Saubers family, who are reeling from a recession and the complications of the patriarch having been brutally injured in the first novel’s “Mercedes Massacre.”
Yet, their problems may be solved when the family starts receiving $500 in the mail at random intervals — as if just when they need it most. How does the Saubers family’s success interconnect with Bellamy’s parole from prison? Where does Detective Bill Hodges come into play?
And what of Mr. Mercedes?
Well, you’ve gotta read Finders Keepers for yourself to get those answers.
Finders Keepers is a great novel but it’s a HUGE departure from Mr. Mercedes.
As always, King has a voice that comes through his vivid prose to unsettle readers. These vary from the disquieting remarks of Bellamy’s time in prison and descriptions of his physical presence, such as the oft-mentioned “red lips.” In general, I’ll add that Bellamy makes for a good villain, but not the best. Ultimately, his obsession with Rothstein’s works, specifically his “Jimmy Gold” character, make for a strong arc as a one-tract mind psycho.
I’ll add that King captures the anxiety of the great recession period quite well as we follow the Saubers family’s struggles.
Bellamy’s obsessiveness kind of deflates his character towards the end of the story.
However, the biggest issue that Finders Keepers faces is that it hardly feels like a “Detective Bill Hodges Novel.” I wouldn’t even call it a “detective novel.” The reader knows everything that’s going on, which makes for more of a contemporary suspense/thriller. It’s a good suspense/thriller, but if you want a true detective novel this isn’t it.
We get a few threads setting up the third book in the trilogy, but in large part, it hardly seems that Finders Keepers need exist within the Bill Hodges Trilogy. This book could have stood on its own like a lot of detective series novels do, but it feels awkwardly placed at the heart of a trilogy.
For those wary of reading King, let’s have a little aside to say that once again, King’s villains are detestable. Seeing as this book is largely contemporary, it’s no surprise that the horrible things that happen throughout could very well happen in the real world. While making for thrilling moments and dark developments, I think it’s safe to say elements of the story might be unsettling to read. Moreso, there are certainly instances of scenes that could be triggering or traumatic for individual readers.
The story is far from perfect, but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it and connected with Pete Saubers as a character. In fact, I loved all the new characters and enjoyed the throwbacks to the OG Mr. Mercedes crew.
But my favorite bit is seeing how Detective Hodges is a fighter. He’s fought through a lot, and it’s not necessarily for himself. He fights for others and seeing how he truly cares for a kid like Pete Saubers in the end, helps to develop Hodges as a tragic character in my humble opinion.
I look back more fondly on this book after finishing the trilogy as a whole, that said, this one doesn’t establish much, if anything, canonically. So, if you’re crumpling under the weight of your TBR, this one can be skipped.
For more of my overall opinions and takeaways on King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy, as well as Finders Keepers head over to Ko-Fi and consider joining my “knowledge tier” for more in-depth reviews and takeaways on novels and KindleVella exclusives that won’t be found anywhere else.
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