Synopsis (with spoilers)
When you cracked open the pages of Stephen King’s sequel to Mr. Mercedes were you surprised that it didn’t immediately start out with Bill Hodges & Co? Yeah, me too. In fact, were you surprised that it took about half the book until they finally appeared? Yeah, me too. Were you also surprised that you enjoyed this book quite immensely all the same?
Nah, me neither.
John Rothstein was a genius author during the midway of the 20th Century. He wrote several novels starring Jimmy Gold, an American hero of a character in Morris Bellamy's eyes; in fact, Morris’ infatuation with the character Jimmy Gold takes such a turn for the absolute worst that he decides to steal the books from the author himself. Then he steals something else. You see, Morris believes that Rothstein sold out in his final book before going dark to the public for the remainder of his life.
Finders Keepers picks up where the events of Mr. Mercedes left off… in a way. The first section of the book uses a back-and-forth method between two people: a young Morris in the 1970’s and a young Pete Saubers in the present day. This first section deals with several horrific crimes Morris committed during those earlier days, and then shows Pete’s blessing/curse that came of it decades later. To the chagrin of Morris’ dark obsession with Rothstein, however, he is never able to enjoy the rewards of his crimes; he goes to prison, sentenced to life for the rape of a woman.
Fast forward to present day and Pete is a young high school student only now getting to the age where he not only enjoys reading, but he appreciates the why of why he enjoys reading. His is a mind budding with academic potential.
After finding a certain unknown trunk in the ground, after finding it filled with thousands of dollars as well as unpublished Rothstein works – not to mention to entirely new Jimmy Gold novels that never saw the light of day – Pete uses the money to slowly fund his struggling parents who are on the midst of divorce. Pete’s father was severely injured in the City Center Massacre that took place at the beginning of the first book, and his paychecks were what stabilized the family.
This goes relatively well, and at the time the money (roughly $20,000) finally runs out over the course of the next handful of years Pete’s dad even has a job again. Despite that, there is now a new obstacle: Pete’s sister, Tina, wants to go to a better school than the one she is currently attending. Pete senses a lull in her, so to speak, and he thinks that if she were able to go to a better school it would disappear. It’s disappointing that the money is gone.
However, there are still the books.
Pete goes to a shady bookseller, and this precise event – one could argue, however, that finding the truck and taking its contents were the real trigger – sets off a chain reaction. Because when Morris is granted parole, rides back home, and discovers that his prized possessions that were buried decades ago are now missing?
Part of me doesn’t want to discuss Bill Hodges & Co. at all. They do make their appearances – including Holly and Jerome – but they are such a minuscule part of this story. This is Pete Saubers’ and Morris Bellamy’s story. Well… I take that back. Holly’s character really comes into her own (she might be my favorite character of the books at this point), but aside from that? To me they’re there just to keep them in the picture, because this is dubbed the Bill Hodges Trilogy after all. If Holly wasn’t so quick-thinking and stubborn they really wouldn’t have played much of a role at all. You could have taken them out of the story and nothing would have changed. This is, however, my only complaint. I feel like, for the most part, they're just... there.
Nevertheless,Finders Keepers blew me away in the best way possible. It is a haunting tale that also acts as a literary biography of an author WHO I REALLY WANT TO BE REAL. I want to read the Runner books, dammit! I want to read about Jimmy Gold, dammit! Why aren’t these books real???
*waits for beating heart to slow down*
I really enjoyed the fake literary biography aspect of this story. It was something different, you know? I think the best part about it is that it showed the obsessions of two different people who came to infatuate over the same author; and the best part about that is that it showed how these infatuations are both chillingly similar and absolutely different at the same time. It certainly shows shades of King's Misery, which also happens to be one of my favorites.
Whereas in Mr. Mercedes I thought the middle of the book lagged, in Finders Keepers I thought the exact opposite. Perhaps part of this is because that is when Hodges & Co. finally made their appearance? If that’s the case, maybe I should eat my words. I won’t, though. Mostly because the trilogy isn’t a, say, direct, trilogy. Or, rather, it is, but not how Lord of the Rings is a trilogy. You could read Finders Keepers and be mostly okay, aside from looking up the synopsis of Mr. Mercedes and finding out why Brady is such a dick and why he’s in the hospital.
But really, me complaining about a lack of real role for Hodges is mostly petty; I’m mostly trying to be objective instead of gushing on and on! I enjoyed the characters and dialogue, but then I always enjoy that in a King novel; it’s why I adore him, after all, and also why characters and dialogue is what I feel is most important in my own writing. If I find a story with a poor plot but awesome characters that’s fine, but if I find a story that features a good plot but characters I don’t care about? I likely won’t finish that book.
Thankfully, Finders Keepers has both a stellar plot and stellar characterization.
Another thing I enjoyed was the lack of a romantic interest (but am I the only one who ships Bill and Holly???), because – though I failed to mention it in my last review – I thought that was the biggest thing that annoyed me in Mr. Mercedes. The whole romance with Janey Patterson felt so forced and unrealistic and fake. Although, I spoke with a friend and she thinks that there’s a chance that whole cheesy romance could be a stab at an established, uber popular mystery novelist. And, when thinking of it that way, I can totally see that.
And that final chapter? Ohhhhhhhh man. I cannot wait to begin End of Watch, the conclusion to the Bill Hodges Trilogy. I wonder if Pete will show up or if he was a one-off.
What else should I say? Read this book. It’s another bestselling King page-turner and that’s really all you need to know. Who doesn’t love a story about literature and lunatics, amirite?
Read it and love it, and then read End of Watch alongside me!