BENGALURU: Considered to be a gripping sequel to Mr Mercedes, Stephen King’s Finders Keepers literally takes the readers on a roller coaster, keeping them on the edge of their seats with its twists and twirls. However it ends with a thud with the sudden appearance of Hodges and a few other random characters. This is the story of a deranged fan’s obsession with a novelist whom he kills but lands up behind bars for nearly 35 years on some other charges. And when he comes out of prison, this fanatical character hunts for a hidden treasure which is nothing but a few notebooks of his literary hero and some cash.
The first half of the novel is superbly crafted with the right amount of horror and thrills.The novel keeps you hooked and one would like to finish it at one go. Stephen King’s take on the relationship between authors and their fans has been outlined to such an extent that one feels as if King himself is fascinated by this issue.
King starts his novel very differently with these words, “Wake up, genius.” to tell the story of a vengeful reader Morris Bellamy who plans and plots for years and years. The literary genius here is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who has not published any book for decades. Morris Bellamy is upset and angry not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out in order to make a killing in an advertising career. In a fit of rage, Morris kills author Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of 160 notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.
The deranged Morris hides the money and the notebooks near an embankment with overhanging trees in an isolated stretch near his house hoping to recover it soon. Before Morris can go through the notebooks, which include new material about his favorite character, he gets waylaid on another charge and is sent to prison. Throughout his long stay in the jail, Morris dreams of getting out and reading the notebooks that he had hidden before being arrested. Unfortunately for him, when he gets out, his treasure trove has disappeared.
Decades later, a teenager named Pete Saubers and his family move into Morris’ old house, and it is Pete who finds the treasure and uses it. Thus, his family benefits from this unknown treasure without knowing about it as the cash in the treasure box comes very handy for this family who are in dire straits.
Years ago, the Saubers family had fallen on hard times after the father lost his real estate job in the market crash of 2008 and further got badly injured while standing in line at a job fair. Pete, in fact, stumbles on the notebooks and the cash, and judiciously uses the money to help his family through their financial crisis. However, reading the notebooks, Pete too turns into a Jimmy Gold fan like Morris.
Enter Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue Pete and his family from the deranged and vengeful Morris who is released from prison after 35 years. Now what happens when Pete falls into the clutches of this fanatical fan of Rothstein is what the book tries to unravel.
The first part of the book is a flashback and the author retraces the events that took place before Morris was jailed and after his release. This is interesting and fast paced. But with the entry of Hodges and other detectives, the story falters and the main plot literally comes to a halt. The tension and pace that one associates with a crime thriller falls apart with Hodges’ introduction so late in the novel. The last part of the novel is pretty disappointing with Hodges trying desperately to solve the mystery
King could have just kept the plot clean with Morris and Pete or otherwise, introduced these characters, maybe, midway. However, despite these failings, the novel is still interesting and makes for a thrilling read at least in parts.