“He not only hits a home run with this but knocks it clean out of the park.”
There’s a good chance if you’re one of the many millions of Stephen King fans around the world that you feel a form of literary addiction, in that you absolutely cannot get enough from Maine’s Master of the Macabre. If this sounds like you, just pause for a moment and ask yourself this.
What if King had stopped writing back in, say, 1996 after he’d published The Green Mile, and then withdrawn from public life vowing to never write again? What if twenty years later you, and you alone, happened to come into possession of notebooks filled with the dozens of novels and short stories that he’d produced in the interim? What then, if you were slung in jail for another decade before you’d had chance to read but a fraction of this lost work, and having carefully hidden your treasure beforehand with the knowledge that when you were released your private, unique stash was just waiting for you to devour it, you discovered that somebody else had found it?
This is the premise of Finders Keepers, which sees King returning to his well-thumbed subject matter of writing, but this time instead of focusing on the scribe as protagonist a la Jack Torrance, Paul Sheldon or any of the dozen or so other wordsmiths he’s given us over the years, he’s speaking directly to the obsessive fan boy or girl that lives in all of us and makes us constantly crave more from the artists that we admire.
It almost goes without saying that when you pick up a King book you’ll be rewarded with richly drawn characters that possess both depth and credibility, and Finders Keepers is no exception in this regard. Where it does fall down slightly, however, is that considering that this is supposed to be the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy (Hodges being the hero, of sorts, from Mr Mercedes), the first third of the novel is so effective in introducing a number of new characters to us, and sets the scene for the plot using such masterful literary strokes, that by the time Hodges turns up it feels as though he is a somewhat minor character, and not a particularly interesting one at that.
This has the effect of making the second act slightly sluggish, though never tedious, before King pulls it all together for the final act, something that he’s rediscovered the knack of doing of late, since the superb 11/22/63 in fact, and delivers a decent, tense ending. Spoiler etiquette dictates that you’ll have to discover the reason for the tension yourself, and if you’re a bibliophile then you may wear mittens while reading to protect your fingernails, but to use King’s beloved baseball as an analogy he not only hits a home run with this but knocks it clean out of the park.
Finders Keepers continues King’s streak of great books that he’s rebuilt in the last seven or eight years, after what many King fans considered a bit of a lean period where he had seemingly lost some of his pizazz, and will leave you craving not only his upcoming short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (due November 2015) but also the concluding Bill Hodges book End of Watch.
Publisher: Random House Hydra
Release Date: 14 July 2015
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