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Decades into a prolific and successful career, Stephen King is still churning out trilogies. His latest follows the post-retirement years of Detective Bill Hodges. I just finished up End of Watch–the final novel of the trio. It appears the adventures of this intrepid ex-cop and his arch-nemesis "The Mercedes Killer" are wrapped up with a neat bow in this one. While not my favorite of the bunch (I'd be hard pressed to choose between Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers), End of Watch is a fantastic finish that brings in a lot of the mindeffery for which we know and love the King.
End of Watch finds Bill (real name Kermit) and his partner-in-crime-fighting Holly Gibney dealing with Bill's grim diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and the reappearance of Brady Hartsfield in their lives. Hartsfield, a serial killer who plowed down dozens of people in the first book of the trilogy, is a near-vegetable at the local hospital. How is it that Bill suspects the brain trauma patient in a recent rash of suicides?
Before End of Watch, King had largely refrained from the more fantastic aspects of his imagination with this trilogy. We've been given straight-up everyday evil against a flawed hero in two relatively normal, though outstandingly written, detective novels. King opened up the floodgates for the last hurrah, bringing back an old favorite of his–telekinesis.
Because of the supernatural twist hinted at in Finders Keepers and delivered in End of Watch, Hodges finds himself in the most challenging case of his busy retirement. Some might call it an easy way to bring back a crippled antagonist, but I found Hartsfield too intriguing, too disgusting to be done away with in a single book. It was fitting to have him back too see how he would fare against an again weakened Hodges in a second round.
I enjoyed the book on a few lazy days swinging in my hammock this summer. As usual, I was thoroughly entertained by Mr. King and bummed out when the book inevitably ended. I'll wrap this up by noting how much I loved King's treatment of the ever-anxious Holly Gibney. I have an anxiety disorder myself and enjoyed having a hero more on my level. I'm also very happy that King touched on themes of suicide and then included an encouraging note to those of us who struggle with those issues to seek help and be patient enough for the good times to come back. I was truly moved.