Let me begin by laying it out here…I’m a Stephen King fan. A very big one. If you hang around here long enough, you’ll here me mention him and his books often. I don’t want to say I’m a Stephen King book snob, but I’m close. I will admit that I consider myself to be one that’s not blinded by my love though. There are books he’s written that I have read…and will never get that time back. Or that bad taste out of my brain.
End of Watch is the final installment of the three book Bill Hodges trilogy. It all began with Mr. Mercedes and ends here. I feel like I need to say a few words about book one and two as this book would feel empty on its own. When I first read Mr. Mercedes, I was confused. Here was King, but this was a detective story. I decent one and a good read, but I didn’t give this a fair shake. I was too busy searching for something otherworldly. I’ve since changed my mind on that. Book two, Finders Keepers, truly pulled me in and made me love this world of Hodges and his friends. I realized after finishing the series that King was developing some great characters and relationships. I was being a fan-bitch.
The story centers around our protagonist (I hate that word…), I think I’ll call him our hero, Bill Hodges and his unlikely partner Holly Gibney. Bill is an aging retired detective that never could get his former job out of his system. Good for him too, because it helped him catch the villain, Brady Hartsfield from book one with help from Holly and Jerome Robinson, Brady having killed plenty of people essentially just because he could and was attempting to do it again. Brady was badly injured, brain damaged by Holly, but still alive.
End of Watch sees Bill still unable to let go of the fact that he thinks Brady may be faking his brain damage. Brady can’t leave his hospital room, he’s reduced to doing little more than drooling on himself, yet that doesn’t stop his need to mess with people. Only this time hes’s not focused on Bill alone. This time it’s the whole city. He wants to finish what he started years ago.
What starts as Bill’s old partner calling him and Holly in to look over a seemingly unrelated suicide case, is just the beginning of what nobody can really believe is the truth. It all makes sense, but Hodges and Holly are characters in a Stephen King book, not long time Constant Readers. Eventually, the truth comes out, hard as it may be to swallow and and the adventure is on.
I don’t want to give it all away, but the bond of friendship between the three main characters that have carried us through this series comes in to play for an exciting ending. You’ll find yourself wishing you had even one friend like the friends Bill has.
The hardest part and this may be a bit of a *SPOILER* is that in the first few pages we learn that Bill, who is just approaching his 70th birthday has an incurable cancer. It stayed with me as I read and as much as I hoped our dynamic three would save the day and reign supreme, I also hoped that on some totally human level, King would develop a cure for cancer. The thought of the big C taking the good guy seemed scarier than the intentionally scary stuff.
Where I once thought Stephen King was going soft and switching his signature style for something I didn’t quite recognize and possibly didn’t care for, I found myself mourning the end of this series and loving the characters as I have loved those in some of King’s most recognized works.
I would recommend this series to anyone. It’s a good place to start on King’s different ventures away from the classic monster in the woods or sewer drains.