by Stephen King
Stephen King needs little introduction. Suffice to say that during his long, prolific career he has won every science fiction award imaginable. But until this past April, he had never won an Edgar for best novel. That he earned for his first hard-boiled detective book, Mr. Mercedes (***1/2 Sept/Oct 2014). Finders Keepers is the sequel, the second of a planned trilogy.
THE STORY: In Mr. Mercedes, a crazy man who likes the feel of bodies under his motor vehicles' wheels drove a stolen Mercedes into a Midwestern city job fair and killed eight people. Finders Keepers reunites readers with retired police detective Bill Hodges, his assistant Holly Gibney, and sidekick Jerome Robinson. But the premise is wholly different. Finders Keepers introduces psychotically obsessive fan Morris Bellamy, who murders iconic, reclusive author John Rothstein for selling out his famous character and then makes off with the author's life savings, as well as several valuable, unpublished works he hides in a trunk in a forest. Decades later, teenage Pete Saubers (whose father was crippled by the madman in Mr. Mercedes) rediscovers the hidden manuscripts--but the vengeful Morris, now released from prison for a different crime, vows to recover his stolen treasure.
Scribner. 448 pages. $30. ISBN: 9781501100079
Miami Herald ****
"Finders Keepers is fueled by real-life issues of economic depression and marital strife, which makes the ensuing suspense and menace more palpable.... That sense of contemporary despair--the constant struggle that so many wage daily in order to simply survive, and the sense of hope that follows when you get a glimpse of the end of the tunnel--is what gives Finders Keepers its substance and makes it meatier than, say, Under the Dome, which was a terrific read but also kind of ridiculous." RENE RODRIGUEZ
New York Times ****
"While it doesn't have the high drama of that opening installment [Mr. Mercedes] or the fireworks that, most likely, will cap off the stories of these characters, it has greater depth and time for reflection. And it considers one of Mr. King's favorite subjects: the dynamic between famous authors and their fans." Janet Maslin
Seattle Times ****
"King gives the reader a little character development here, some plot progression there, until the inevitable finale--the final third will be devoured, likely in one sitting. ... He closes this second book of a planned trilogy with just one word (and one that will haunt your dreams for a very long time): Clack." DOUG KNOOP
USA Today ****
"King continues to tweak the hard-boiled genre in spectacular ways in Finders Keepers, hints at a bit of the supernatural--he's pretty good at that if you hadn't heard--and touches on his own place as an American literary celebrity. King's had his share of diehard fanatics over the years, but the new book is so good, being at least mildly obsessed with it is understandable." BRIAN TRUITT
Washington Post ****
"Finders Keepers ... may be a twisted love story, but it's also a love letter to the joys of reading and to American literature. Rothstein's books evoke Updike's Rabbit novels, as well as works by J. D. Salinger, John Cheever and Richard Yates." ELIZABETH HAND
NY Times Book Review ***
"[P]art of me can't help wishing King had stayed with classic crime fiction.... His riskiest move, however, is creating a book--books--within a book. That's tricky for any writer" LAURA LIPPMAN
Dallas Ft. Worth Star-Telegram **
"Keepers crackles in its last 50 pages or so, but too much of what precedes the gruesome climax feels like King riffing on his greatest hits. Apart from memories of Misery, King also spends a stretch writing about prison (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) and offers plenty of paragraphs about the power of writing and the hold authors exert on young, malleable minds (his nonfiction tome On Writing)" PRESTON JONES
Stephen King has something for almost everyone. If Finders Keepers touches on the themes of Misery (the reader-writer relationship and problems therein), that's mostly a good thing. King creates a narrative that "hurtle[s] along at such high speed, you can barely keep up" (Miami Herald), and the plot moves quickly along with ample suspense, fresh personalities, and real-life issues, including economic depression. This time, however, King adds in a supernatural element, one absent from Mr. Mercedes and one that rings strangely false, given King's mastery over the supernatural. "It's as if King's restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained," notes the New York Times. But this is a minor flaw in another terrific book. "Being at least mildly obsessed with it is understandable" (USA Today).
***** CLASSIC A timeless book to be read by all
**** EXCELLENT One of the best of its genre
*** GOOD Enjoyable, particularly for fans of the genre
** FAIR Some problems, approach with caution
* POOR Not worth your time