By Stephen King
King’s more recent outings have ranged from disappointing, to okay, to pretty good. So, it’s a great pleasure to say that King has hit a homer with Finders Keepers, featuring the gang–retired cop Bill Hodges, savant Holly Gibney, and college guy Jerome Robinson–from Mr. Mercedes. If you developed an attachment to any of the three, you’ll enjoy how King has expanded them, particularly Holly. You’ll have to wait to reacquaint yourself with them, however, as they make their appearance about in the middle of Finders Keepers.
Finders Keepers is first and foremost a terrific thriller that King paces very well and loads with tension. Even his often rather drawn out ending works well in this novel because you’ll find the behavior of central character high-school student Pete Saubers, while emotional and a bit illogical, entirely sympathetic and believable.
But bad guys win the fascination and attention-holding game and King gives a really good one here: Mr. Morrie Bellamy. It’s a great character name since it’s contrapuntal. Given a storyline with faint hints of King’s masterpiece Misery, comparisons to Annie Wilkes seem inevitable. While a strong character, Morrie lacks Annie’s tight mental winding, her unique vocabulary (really brilliant on King’s part), and the blackness hidden behind benign expressions. Morrie wears his ruthlessness on the outside like cheap clothes. Thus, not as powerful as Annie but good otherwise.
In sum, Morrie and his gang break into world-famous writer John Rothstein’s remote farmhouse. Morrie’s confederates are there to steal the cash Rothstein keeps on hand; Morrie’s there for the author’s notebooks. You see, while a criminal at heart, Morrie loves Rothstein’s Jimmy Gold novels but is seriously ticked off about Jimmy selling out to the advertising world in the last one. (Sound familiar, Annie Wilkes?) Rothstein’s a curmudgeon of the first order who pushes Morrie to his limit. Bang, and Rothstein is no more. In consolation, Morrie gets a ton of the writer’s notebooks, wherein he hopes to find redemption for Jimmy Gold.
Through a number of circumstances, Morrie must stash the notebooks and money, which he does in the woods behind his old house. Pete Saubers and his parents and sister live there now. One day, Pete discovers the stash. He has beneficial use for the money and a personal passion for Rothstein and his Jimmy Gold novels. Naturally, years after the crime and putting the goods in a hidey hole, Morrie returns to retrieve his treasure. When he finds it gone, the thief hunts down the thief. As the chase ensures, Bill, Holly, and Jerome become involved and we have the pleasure of watching them figure out what’s going on.
All in all, a gem of a thriller that will not disappoint anybody, except maybe King fans who think every one of his novels must contain the supernatural (which, unfortunately, King hints at in the final pages). w/c