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End of Watch


End of Watch

END OF WATCH is as satisfying a closing volume to what we’ll call the Mr. Mercedes trilogy as you are likely to read. More often than not, I am disappointed with the “last in a series of (fill in the blank)” books, but throughout the long story arc that began with a massacre-by-auto in MR. MERCEDES and continued with FINDERS KEEPERS, King has paced himself and his story wonderfully. END OF WATCH, which brings the tale of Brady Hartsfield to rest, is everything you reasonably could want out of a thriller novel, and more.

Please remember the foregoing when I tell you that END OF WATCH is arguably a rewrite of one of King’s most beloved and classic novels. He doesn’t borrow phrases or characters or anything else, but on more than one occasion, I saw that other book bleed through as if I were holding a palimpsest. In no way did this spoil my reading; in fact, I regarded it as a bit of a lagniappe, where one could guess what was going to happen next and be correct. But I was able to read END OF WATCH for its own merits, which include --- but certainly are not limited to --- the return of Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers Detective Agency.

"King has paced himself and his story wonderfully. END OF WATCH, which brings the tale of Brady Hartsfield to rest, is everything you reasonably could want out of a thriller novel, and more."

The time is now, and Bill is about to get some very bad personal news, as prefigured by the title. He puts things off, though, when he learns that Martine Stover, one of the survivors of what has become known as the “Mercedes Massacre,” has been the victim of a murder-suicide. Martine, who had been living an upbeat existence despite being left a quadriplegic, has been murdered by her mother, who then killed herself. The case appears to be pretty much open and shut --- people do stranger things for lesser reasons --- but Bill’s cop radar is going off, particularly when Holly finds a handheld video game system at the crime scene that just doesn’t fit in.

King gives the reader more information than Bill and Holly have, dropping it in dribs and drabs for the Finders Keepers duo to find later. Of course, the trail leads eventually to the hospital bedside of Brady, who is a cauliflower after his encounter with Holly in FINDERS KEEPERS. Although he is supposed to be in a semi-vegetative state, at least one person knows better, and then another and another, and we gradually learn in fits and starts that he has been shamming for a while and plotting his revenge. He has unfinished business with the survivors of the Mercedes Massacre, but he also has a serious mad-on for Bill, Holly and their friend, Jerome Robinson, who returns as well. Their biggest problem is that they can’t see him coming.

END OF WATCH is violent and suspenseful (even with what I said above), but it is also bittersweet in the way that King has always done so well. The title is a clue, but you knew that, didn’t you? You’ll also compile a whole laundry list of things that you won’t encounter or look at again without thinking of this book, such as someone fooling around with a game on one of those cheap handheld systems (or a phone or a Game Boy, for that matter), or one of those book carts that makes the rounds in hospitals and nursing homes.

While it is the third and final book of the trilogy, King doesn’t so much leave the door opened as unlocked for the possibility of one or two of his principals making a return for another go-round at some point down the road. In the meantime, don’t miss this outstanding conclusion.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 8, 2016

End of Watch
by Stephen King

  • Publication Date: March 28, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501134132
  • ISBN-13: 9781501134135