I just finished Stephen King’s Finders Keepers, the sequel to Mr. Mercedes. The first book isn’t really required to enjoy this one, but I’d definitely recommend it!
Like Mr. Mercedes, this book focuses less on the supernatural and unknown that Stephen King is so well known for, and more on the mystery and suspense of the story.
Another parallel to Mr. Mercedes is the dual story that he tells, allowing you to keep tabs on the protagonist and antagonist simultaneously – so you see any near misses or close calls that one or both characters may not be aware of.
Spoiler (about one of those near misses)
A perfect example of this is Pete’s hiding place for the notebooks that he and Bellamy are so infatuated with. He hides them in a basement that Bellamy then uses as a hideout.
Bellamy looks right at the boxes the books are hidden in. He moves them around, and notices how heavy they are. He uses one as a step stool and then sits on it and thinks about the notebooks. The damn things are literally right under his nose.
Along with that is the window into the mind of the criminal at the heart of the story, in this case a man named Morris Bellamy. You experience their thoughts and what drives them to do the things they do. Those motivations are unsettling in a way that only King can really deliver.
This also gives you a great window into the mind of Bellamy, and the unsettling way he thinks.
Bellamy is a well written antagonist. He’s disturbing because he’s evil not for the sake of being evil, but because he’s driven by a passion for (of all things) literature. He has a tangible, relatable motivation. Because of that motivation, he does bad things to good people without thought or remorse. He just… proceeds, committing his crimes with the same calm demeanor you or I display when we check the mailbox each morning.
Another element that long time King readers will love is all of the connection points between characters. King is forever linking his stories and characters together and fascinating ways, and he delivers a lot of that in this book.
Finders Keepers builds slowly (the characters from the first novel don’t really enter the story until about 150 pages in) and then kind of simmers for a while.
This doesn’t make it a slow read, but you definitely don’t dive right into the action of the story – which is cool, because it just keeps you waiting and builds anticipation.
In that vein, this is not a story of a battle between Bellamy and Pete Saubers, as the jacket summary would have you believe. It’s much deeper than that, and covers a lot of ground – giving you plenty of time to really get to know the characters (good and bad) and what makes them tick.
Don’t let that slow burn fool you though. Once our two main characters cross paths it’s a sprint for the finish. The final section of this book wasn’t something I was able to tear myself away from.
King does a great job of controlling the pace of the story all the way through, and then hits the gas at the end in a big way.
Speaking of the end… If you haven’t yet read Mr. Mercedes, I’d advise you to skip this last bit 🙂
Spoiler Alert! (I’m totally giving away the ending here)
I love the way Brady Hartsfield is mixed into this story. Only a bit, just enough and definitely mysterious. The final section, “Clack” was fantastic – hinting that if there is a third book for Hodges & Friends, it will take them into more supernatural territory, which we all know King can do so well…