If you’re reading this book review, or any book reviews for that matter, chances are you are going to understand what I am about to say. Books are incredible. They allow you to escape your world and dive head first into another. Enveloping you in sights, sounds and smells as you follow the characters, get to know the characters – care for them even. Works of great literature can change lives. Finders Keepers explores this love, but also illustrates how this can lead to obsession and madness.
Finders Keepers is the second volume of a trilogy that follows retired Detective Bill Hodges. The first novel, Mr Mercedes, is well worth a read as the plot is intensely gripping – I could not put it down, good thing I started it on a Friday so I didn’t have silly things like work getting in the way of reading. Understandably Mr Mercedes, being the first novel, has a lot of character development for Hodges and his friends that is lacking Finders Keepers. I read Mr Mercedes before I started writing reviews so this paragraph is acting as a very short one; basically it’s awesome too. Though what else is to be expected from the king that is Stephen King.
Please note, this review does contain spoilers. I have tried to keep them to a minimum, I did attempted to write this without them but didn’t get very far…
Finders Keepers focuses around three main characters; retired detective Hodges (naturally, as it is his trilogy), who is currently running an investigative company called ‘Finders Keepers’; Morris Bellamy, a fanatical yet disgruntled devotee of author Jon Rothstein who is enslaved by his obsession; and Pete Saubers, a bright young boy whose family life is at breaking point after the events of Mr Mercedes.
There is a clear parallel between Finders Keepers and another of Kings novels, Misery. Both feature a revered author and a dissatisfied fan, however Annie Wilkins and Morris Bellamy handle their displeasure differently. In Misery, Wilkins rescues Paul Shelton after an accident, originally nursing him back to health, she begins wearing down his soul, body and mind until he writes “Misery’s Return” for her. It is important to note that Wilkins did not plan any of this, it was just a happy coincidence that Shelton crashed near her house. Morris Bellamy, however. Wow. is he bad. He’s really bad, bad on the inside. He has a hatred for everyone around him and is driven by one dream, to get his bloodied hands on Rothstein’s notebooks – and God help anyone that stands in his way.
Some reviews I have read complained about the link between Mr Mercedes and Finders keeps, said it felt tenuous and too contrived (going against what King himself says in this novel about the role of an author). I disagree, while in Mr Mercedes we see the event, as well as inside of the culprit’s head, I thought using this as an influence on the plot in Finders Keepers was an intriguing idea. Rather than getting killed in the horrific incident, Pete’s dad got horrifically injured – while he is lucky to be alive there are times when he laments his survival. I believe he even thinks at one point that his family would be better off if he had die, they would have received part of his pension rather than his medical bills. It was an interesting angle to show this side of the story, the ongoing aftermath of a horrific event and how it can manipulate lives.
As well as how dangerous obsession can be.
Favourite quotes from the book:
The the weight was gone. Pain with its own kind of weight rushed in to replace it.
…but he supposed things weren’t perfect in any family outside those old TV sitcoms on Nick at Nite.
A good novelist does not lead his characters, he follows them. A good novelist does not create events, he watches them happen and then writes down what he sees. A good novelist realises he is a secretary, not God.
…a phrase from freshman Latin pops into his head. It’s a scary one in any language, but it fits this situation perfectly.
Alea iacta est.
The die is cast.
…the years between have disappeared like smoke in a breeze.
They say half a loaf is better than none, Jimmy, but in a world of want, even a single slice is better than none.
The fire begins spreading above them, dropping burning streamers.
A charred scarecrow kneels in there, digging into the burning notebooks with arms made of fire. Morris’s face is melting. He shrieks and begins hugging the blazing, dissolving remnants of Rothstein’s work to his burning chest.