END OF WATCH Review

End of Watch: A Novel - Stephen King

Synopsis: The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

 

*****

 

Stephen King's latest novel, End of Watch, is out now. The third book in the Bill Hodges trilogy (the previous books in the cycle are Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers), this fast-paced thriller aptly wraps everything up, tying all loose ends and answering any remaining questions. Like the first two books in the series, this is a crime novel at its core — however, unlike the two books that came before it, this one features King adding a generous helping of psi abilities, thus giving the villain an extra boost. This book features King returning to his wheelhouse, and dealing in strengths that made his earlier novels so gripping. Think Carrie and Firestarter, but with the special talents being used for evil instead of good. It's some scary stuff.

 

I must say the scenes in which Brady Hartsfield began wielding his new powers (thanks to a serious head injury dealt to him in the first novel) reminded me of old-school King which was delightful. The idea of Brady, this psychopath bent on revenge, taking control of a person's cognitive abilities and driving him or her to suicide (as he does many times throughout, each time more gleeful than the last) is one of King's wackier — and more brilliant — concepts. The magnitude of the writing skill displayed here is what sells the idea. It was nice to see some good, old-fashioned horror added to the mix here, but it never gets in the way of what End of Watch truly is: a suspense story, with a small, but lovely cast: an aging former detective quickly running out of time, his neurotic partner, and the guy they've been trying to catch for seven years — who now has new, frightening mental abilities. Needless to say, this is one of King's most gripping tales yet, and I had to force myself to take it slowly so I wouldn't rush through it all on release day.

 

While I'm sad this trilogy is now over, I'm glad it was given such an epic, frightening, beautiful, and fitting 'end'. End of Watch is a compact tale that grapples with a lot of big ideas — letting go and moving on, growing old, closure, hope, and redemption. It's a capable, quick, and smart story that fires on all cylinders, never letting the reader down. While Finders Keepers is probably my favorite novel to emerge from this cycle, this one certainly comes in a close second. Highly recommended to all King fans, and/or fans of excellent thrillers.