This being a middle child I decided to just list my observations. The central plot of the book is that a famous author gets murdered and his money and manuscripts are stolen and hidden by the murderer who is arrested for something unrelated. In present day the trunk and its contents are unearthed by a young boy whose family is struggling through the recent recession and as a result of the Mr. Mercedes attack. The murderer and the boy are slowly brought together and the results are pretty fantastic. Here are some points for thought.
- This story bounces back and forth between past and present for a while and introduces a new villain with connections to our characters in the present. Seeing past move to meet the present was very satisfying, and I’ll just leave it at that.
- There’s some casual prison rape that is thankfully not described in as great a detail as the murders that take place. Thank you Mr. King for small blessings.
- I am dubious about the connection drawn here to the characters from the first book. It was a wonderful story but it had to stretch awfully far to connect to our Jerome, Holly, and Bill from Mr. Mercedes. I mean, hooray they are here and I love them (!) but this was one of those convenient plot points that rub me the wrong way sometimes. Like this could have been its own completely separate book without the rest of the trilogy. Maybe in the third book the connections necessary from this book will become evident as the snowball gets bigger with allies as it rolls along.
- I love how realistic a lot of it was. Morris’ parole procedures and oversight. The sketchy book dealer. How a young kid would handle finding the trunk and supporting his family (more kids than we know do this, but with jobs rather than finding an antique trunk). Also how King deals with the mind of a psychopath or murderer is probably more real than any of us care to know. In this book I was like HOLY SHIT WHAT THAT JUST HAPPENED!!! but then I thought, well of course it did, this guy is a crazy-ass mother fucker why should writing make him into anything else?
- These books really take us back to when the economy shit the bed, and having been affected by it myself it had been bringing back memories that I almost would have rather just forgotten completely. I think the fact that most of King’s CONSTANT READERS will have lived through this time is an added “horror” to the words on the page. We can see ourselves there, making the decisions that this family made, experiencing similar circumstances. It’s not real enough to invoke the popular “TOO SOON” but it’s damn close.
- Throughout the book we notice that Bill Hodges is visiting the Mercedes Killer in the hospital and strange things are happening, and his last visit reveals to us the reader some new abilities that Brady has picked up in his vegetative state. We’ll see how he uses them in End of Watch.
I think this story was more well crafted and less jerky than Mr. Mercedes and you could get away with reading it as a standalone without either of the other two books. And you should, because it’s really, really amazing and thrilling. I don’t know how the next book could be better, but I guess I’ll find out.
PS: I want to know how much money he gets for the number of times he writes “Mercedes” and “Moleskine notebooks”