Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Neil Gaiman famously crooned: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” It was in response to everyone cawing at the murderous Santa for not releasing his goddamn series in a timely manner. I agree. An author is not responsible for your fucking entertainment. Read something else. You’ll get your wine when it’s time. However, I also agree that I’m not going to fucking watch Game of Thrones on HBO while it spoils the book series for me. I want to read the books when they are ready. I’ll wait years. I may be impatient. But it’s a good kind of impatient.
Stephen King quit writing. And then he didn’t. I enjoy his stuff. It’s a little creaky at times. I don’t like all of it. But I’m glad when there’s a book of his that comes out. It makes me happy.
So Finders Keepers was a headscratcher. It’s the story of an author, John Rothstein, a reclusive man who published a famous and life-changingly controversial trilogy. Rothstein’s sort of mashup of Salinger, Updike, and I feel a little Budd Schulberg in there. Anyway, he retired early, became famously curmudgeonly, and never published anything after his initial tremendous successes in the 60’s and 70’s with Jimmy Gold, his bastard protagonist. One night, Rothstein’s home gets invaded by three criminals, two bumbling hacks and Morris Bellamy, a fan of Rothstein’s who felt he sold out. They steal $24K and almost 200 Moleskine notebooks containing Rothstein’s lost works and the two final Jimmy Gold novels.
The story then flashes forward to tell the tale of Peter Saubers. Pete’s dad was one of the folks severely injured by Brady Hartsfield, the Mercedes Killer. Their family is falling apart, financially and emotionally, until Pete discovers the trunk containing the hidden notebooks of Rothstein and the money. Bellamy has been in jail on unrelated charges all this time, and has maintained his sanity awaiting the chance to possibly get his hands on those books. Pete recently read Rothstein and became enamored. And so the story is this fascinating tale of intrigue and deception, cat and mouse, between a young boy trying to save his family by doing wrong in the right way, and an obsessive criminal, and ownership of lost works. It’s really neat to read and very complicated, but moves well.
And then enters Bill Hodges and his crew. He feels shoehorned in to the plot. Like this great story is happening in his neighborhood, and he and his weird ass Hardy Boys crew have to somehow be involved. At first I questioned whether this was a Bill Hodges story — the only link being Tom Saubers getting nearly crippled by the Mercedes and that impact on his family. But Hodges comes in almost halfway through the end of the book, Pete’s little sister being friends with Barbara Robinson, Jerome’s lil sis from the first book.
I kind of didn’t want them in the book. It doesn’t ruin it, but I was really enjoying the main story. At least this time through King has virtually apologized for the Jerome “step-n-fetchit” routine. Jerome breaks into it twice, and both times it’s greeted with a sigh and an apology from Jerome and a promise to knock it off.
What’s really interesting is that this is a bridge book to the last in what’s supposedly a trilogy. And that bridge is Brady Hartsfield. And I don’t know if it’s going to get supernatural on us or what. It’s very promising. But this didn’t feel like a second book in a trilogy as another book in the world of that trilogy. So we’ll see.