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So let it be written - Finders Keepers'

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King thriller a tale of literary obsession gone too far

There's a touch of the obsessive inherent to literary fandom. When a reader particularly a young reader first discovers an author whose writing truly speaks to them, their devotion to their newfound favorite often increases exponentially, growing in leaps and bounds at a rapid pace.

But what if that same author makes a choice that the reader vehemently disagrees with? How far will a fan go to get the result that their heart desires?

Stephen King's latest novel 'Finders Keepers' (Scribner; $30) is a sequel to last year's 'Mr. Mercedes.' It's an exploration of the potential volatility of the dynamic between writer and reader, telling the story of a man willing to do anything to change the fate of his fictional hero and the boy who gets caught between him and his ultimate desire.

In 1978, the reclusive novelist John Rothstein awakes to an invasion of his home. Three men have broken into his New Hampshire farmhouse in the dead of night; two seek nothing more than money, but one seeks a lunatic combination of revenge and redemption. Morris Bellamy is full of rage and resentment, his anger springing from Rothstein's final treatment of the iconic character, Jimmy Gold. Rumor has it that Rothstein has continued writing even after he ceased publishing his work Bellamy wants those words and is willing to kill to read them.

After killing Rothstein as well as his own accomplices - Morris gets his hands on the notebooks, but goes into a paranoid panic and decides to hide them away until the heat is off. However, he gets arrested for a completely different crime and is locked away.

Decades pass. A young boy named Pete Saunders discovers the chest Morris buried, finding a good use for the money, yesbut also becoming drawn into his own literary obsession. He loves the three extant Jimmy Gold books, but it is the two unpublished novels contained within the notebooks that are the true treasure.

Morris has spent the years dreaming of the Rothstein notebooks, but when he is released and discovers that they're gone, his obsession takes hold; he will stop at nothing to reclaim what he believes to be rightfully his.

Pete's only hope is the help of retired detective Bill Hodges and his friends Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson - the trio that solved the case of the 'Mercedes Killer' and saved thousands from death at the hands of the murderous Brady Hartsfield. With their help, Paul just might be able to save himself and his family from the deranged literary passions of Morris Bellamy.

'Finders Keepers' isn't your typical sequel other than a few passing references to the events of the first book, the connections aren't really established until a third of the way in. It works wonderfully the juxtaposed stories of Morris and Pete are plenty compelling on their own; establishing these characters before bringing back the people we remember allows the new faces to grow and become familiar. King maintains one of the most effective devices from the first book, offering a regular shift in perspective between characters. We also bounce from past to present, allowing us interludes of watching Pete grow up and Morris grow old.

King is best known for the supernaturally-tinged nature of his work, but he has shown himself to be just as adept at the creation of crime thrillers as illustrated by recent releases such as 'Joyland' and the aforementioned 'Mr. Mercedes.' However, the obvious analogueto 'Finders Keepers' is 'Misery,' another tale about an obsessed fan whose obsession grown dangerous, someone willing to do anything to give their fictional hero a more appropriate ending.

As always, King's biggest strength is in his storytelling. There's no one writing today who can touch his ability to build a compelling narrative. 'Finders Keepers' is engagingly taut, capturing the reader's attention and simply refusing to let it go. Even the more uneventful sections are unwaveringly readable; it's the sort of book that isn't put down until it's done or until it drops from your hands as your eyelids finally grow too heavy to continue.

'Finders Keepers' is that rare sequel: a story that stands on its own merits while still contributing to a continuing arc. It's a thriller that looks at the love of literature and the consequences of loving too much.

Last modified on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 18:50


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