Thursday, 28 July 2016

"End of Watch" by Stephen King

Year of Publication:  2016
Length:  351 pages
Genre:  Crime, mystery, thriller, supernatural

This novel concludes the trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (2014) and continued with Finders Keepers (2015).  In this book, retired cop turned private detective Bill Hodges and his friend and associate Holly Gibney investigate an apparently simple murder/suicide case.  However there are odd details about the case.  It turns out to be simply the first in a series of suicides, all apparently connected by an outdated handheld games console, and all seemingly linked to serial killer Brady Hartsfield.  However, Hartsfield has been in a coma for the past six years, despite this there have been many reports of strange paranormal phenomenon surrounding him, and he seems to have some kind of malevolent influence over some of those treating him.  One thing is for sure, that Hartsfield is not nearly as dormant as he appears, and for Hodges time is running out, in more ways than one, when he learns that he has a terminal illness.

This is a real page-turning thriller and thoroughly entertaining.  Unlike the other books in the series, there is a strong supernatural element, which brings it closer to the more traditional Stephen King style, however this isn't really a horror novel.  Stephen King has always had a gift for depicting the details of the prosaic details of the real world, and making even minor characters feel real, as with the others in the series, this is a tightly written tale that moves well, and keeps the reader engaged.  The plot sometimes suffers from too many unlikely coincidences, but it's always enjoyable.  I would recommend that you read it after the other books in the series, particularly Mr. Mercedes because this is a direct sequel to that book.

As with quite a lot of Stephen King's recent work, a strong theme in the novel is ageing, and that, along with the theme of suicide that also runs through the trilogy, give the work an even darker, more melancholy hue than is usual for King.


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