End of Watch

June 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

watchEnd of Watch by Stephen King

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Of the three books that make up the Bill Hodges trilogy, Finders Keepers is probably the best. As I mentioned in that review, it has an economy of story that’s lacking in Mr. Mercedes, though I had reservations about how he revived the Brady Hartsfield story when it had nothing to do with the events in Finders KeepersEnd of Watch picks up that thread and continues it, giving us the final book in the story, this time making it Bill versus Brady. Again.

The thing is, with two books in the trilogy being about Bill versus Brady, it makes me wonder what the heck Finders Keepers is doing smack in the middle of them. The main plot is definitely connected (the main character’s father was badly maimed at the event highlighted in Mr. Mercedes), but it’s not like these characters show up in End of Watch. They’re mentioned in passing, but that’s it; they serve no purpose in this story, which, again, makes me wonder why Finders Keepers was a Bill Hodges book at all.

I appreciated both Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers for being thrillers instead of supernatural horror novels (mostly; Finders Keepers starts to make that transition for us), but End of Watch goes off the rails as King returns to that familiar trope of psychic connections and telekinesis to keep his story going. It gets ridiculous, too. Not only does Brady now have the ability to move things with his mind, but he also has the ability to jump into others’ minds, and then he extends that ability through handheld game consoles that have a program that is prone to hypnotize people. Using his psychic connections, he develops the devices into something more sinister, and is actually able to jump into people’s heads through the use of these devices. It’s insane, more so because he starts the series off as being more down-to-earth than this.

Near the end of the book, you’ll find more than just tropes that are familiar; you’ll find snippets of dialog that ring a bell, too:

“The voice is low, calm, and reasonable. It tells her that nobody likes her and everybody laughs at her.”

“Oh Detective Hodges, Brady thinks, hurrying back the way he came. I’ve got such a surprise. Such a surprise for you.”

Sounds kind of like Margaret White and Henry Bowers, doesn’t it? In Mr. Mercedes, he makes some sly references to his own books, but here it’s like he’s plagiarizing some of his own work. It’s weird, and disappointing.

All this being said, none of it detracts from King’s ability to tell a story. I was as hooked on this book as I was on the first two (I finished all three of them in just under a week), and at the end, I even got a little misty-eyed. I just wish King could be as consistent as he used to be. I don’t expect him to be able to write the same kinds of things he did when he was at his peak — creators can’t go back like that — but I find myself wanting him to maintain his level of writing like he once did. It seems like ever since The Tommyknockers he’s lost his sense of what’s good, and is content with writing whatever comes to mind.

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