Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stephen King's Finders Keepers: Surprising Myself

While many readers are suspicious of writers considered too prolific, Stephen King manages to church out books faster than almost any successful writer around without sacrificing style.  I've been an occasional reader of King's novels, even though I don't consider myself a fan of the horror novel. I remember reading Misery while at home with my third newborn.  (For the record, it's not exactly relaxing reading, but at the time the Iran-Contra Hearings were on television, so my options for mental stimulation were slim.)

I loved King's book on writing, and was drawn easily into November 22, 1963.  (I loved that one, but I felt he rushed the end a little, using as narrative device the summary of what had happened by the old man who set the story in motion.)

Recently, I happened onto Mr. Mercedes, the story of a retired detective whose life is saved when he is challenged to solve a crime.  The characters were quirky and clever, and no one's villains can match King's.

In the recent novel Finders Keepers, the detective Bill Hodges is back--but not until halfway through the book. King returns to the same town, with protagonist Pete Saubers, whose father was injured int he crime solved in Mr. Mercedes. The villain in this novel Morris Bellamy has much in common with  Pete, particularly a shared obsession with author John Rothstein, a Salinger-type writer who hasn't published since the sixties--but has keep writing, filling moleskin notebooks.

King builds a suspenseful story by moving back and forth between Morris and Pete, but when Hodges and his unlikely helpers, Jerome and Holly, from the earlier novel, I couldn't help feeling as if I were having a visit from old friends.

What sets King's works apart from some other prolific writers of suspense novels is the intellectual intrigue. He manages to weave in literary allusions deeper than a simple Wikipedia entry.  In doing so, he does more than simple name-dropping. Obviously, with all the time he spends writing, he is also reading voraciously--or he has excellent recall of everything he ever read or studied.

With the final pages of the novel, King accomplish one more achievement: He makes me wonder when he'll be releasing his next novel with Hodges as a character.

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