Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Watch's End: King's Bill Hodges trilogy concludes

I'm not alone in the assertion that Stephen King's Bill Hodges trilogy is among his best work. The series has been more akin to traditional mysteries than King's horror work and that had given King another notch in his belt as one of America's best storytellers of all time.

END OF WATCH brings the series to a close with our hero facing the villain of MR. MERCEDES again.

When last we left Brady Hartsfield, he was deep in coma after having his head bashed in by Holly Gibney at the end of MR. MERCEDES. Hodges visits Brady during the course of FINDERS KEEPERS and catalogues rumors that Brady has develop minor telekinetic powers. Those powers get amped up in END OF WATCH and brings the series into more familiar territory for long-time constant readers.

It might seem like a cop-out to some. Why not keep things real and let the mystery develop on its own, one might say. But that's not how King operates. In many ways, his choices place END OF WATCH neatly in the world he first explored in CARRIE and even more in FIRESTARTER. Oh, yes, it would be easy to assume that Brady's lead neurologist Dr. Babineau took his cues from experiments by The Shop, the covert, semi-governmental organization that fostered and then sought to control Charlie McGee's pyrotechnic powers.

It's a reminder than even something that doesn't seem connected to the greater universe King created can be linked. At this point, it is almost easier to point out the books and stories that aren't connected than playing the game of "how does this fit?" that is so much fun to explore.

Like many King novels, END OF WATCH is all about the build-up, the journey, to the end. When the end comes, it comes quick and dirty. Unlike some of his conclusions (UNDER THE DOME, I'm thinking of you), END OF WATCH and the series as a whole, ends satisfactorily. Bad things happen to people we like (no spoilers) and a tight wrap-up is done. Things make sense at the finale and that is one of the best things I can say about the book.

This is the only King book we'll get in 2016 after recent years of multiple offerings. As King approaches his own watch's end, we should appreciate every moment we get with new work from him.

I fear that when the end comes, it will come just as fast as it does in his books. Lots of build-up and suspense and then ...


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