Finders Keepers by Stephen King
With more than 50 novels under his belt, it’s admirable that Stephen King still writes his own books, unlike some big authors whose names have been turned into brands. Better yet, King tries to avoid being repetitious by often breaking out of his default (a writer haunted by evil in Maine) - we’ve known he can do brilliantly outside of horror since 1982 and the novella that became The Shawshank Redemption.
Mr Mercedes, published in 2013, was similarly refreshing: devoid of supernatural spookiness, it was a cat-and-mouse suspense, with expertly delivered thrills and a fun motley trio of crime-fighters. Finders Keepers is its sequel, although it begins with new characters setting up a new plot and is probably enjoyable on its own terms.
Novelist John Rothstein is the crucial character, even though he dies in the first chapter: he lingers through his literary legacy, especially as his obsessed fan of a murderer steals a cache of unpublished notebooks. Thirty years later and the loot is rediscovered by a teenage boy, who is soon thrown in over his head into a dangerous situation as everyone fights for a scrap of previously-unread genius, eventually turning to the heroes of Mr Mercedes for help.
King has lots to say on the nature of books and their bewitching power over people, a theme he probed best in Misery as introspective terror. Here the results are frightening but they play out more like a roller coaster of a story, with King’s simple prose whisking readers easily through the plot.
The last pages do hint at something supernatural to come in the next instalment and, unlike John Rothstein, it seems that Stephen King is determined to publish everything he can write. If books such as the effortlessly exciting Finders Keepers are the result, we should all be grateful.