Book Review: End of Watch, by Stephen King

This is my 50th book read for the year, and it’s a perfect choice for the accomplishment. End of Watch was simply beautiful. Taking King’s departure series, characters we’ve grown to love, and (finally) adding the supernatural element we’ve all been missing from his recent books, and I felt like I had stumbled into a buffet after just crossing a desert.

But this was no mirage.

I feel the Bill Hodges series is one of the most accomplished “crime” series I’ve read, but — like most of King’s work — the details are in his characters. This, for me, is where King’s true talent lies; breathing life into clay, or rather letters on a page.

end of watchBrady, the Suicide Prince, is a fascinating character study and one of the most villainous baddies you’ll find out there. And his comeuppance in this novel was quite simply perfect.

Holly became such an integral part of the series, and was like watching a butterfly break away from its cocoon. Real, damaged, and intricately whole at the same time, she’s one of King’s best characters and must have been a joy to write and watch grow.

Bill Hodges himself became so much more than a washed up retired detective, and the through-line of these three novels is such a fantastic journey.

The supporting cast of Jerome and his sister, Z-Boy and Doctor Z; it all adds up to a culmination that’s often attempted but rarely achieved.

I can’t remember what interview it was from, but I remember King saying after his accident on the road (which came close to ending his life) that his fears when he had been younger involved the supernatural, the horrors only the mind can comprehend or conjure, but as his life’s progressed and he’s gotten older, his fears are based more on “reality” — death and the unknown beyond, terrorists or kids with guns, wreaking havoc because they can. Fears that we see almost day to day.

(And forgive the terrible paraphrasing; I’m too lazy to google it).

I think this series is sort of a capstone to those fears but brings it all back around, starting with a “terrorist” act by a disturbed mind who decides to run over as many people as he can and ending with that same man becoming more than himself, growing in his power and persuasions into something that would have haunted even the younger King. In a way, it’s a representation of how these normal fears take over our minds, growing and paralyzing those who give them life, until they’ve become so outrageous they literally cripple those individuals who are gripped by them. Think of an early Holly in Mr. Mercedes. And yet she’s the perfect example of working through your fears until you arrive at a stage where — let’s face it, life isn’t perfect, but you can deal with it. You can take on whatever’s tossed your way, and that supernatural larger-than-life fear or illness or past can be overcome and returns to what it originally was, just as Brady does in the end.

Enough of my ramblings. Start with Mr. Mercedes if you’ve somehow avoided this series, and enjoy the beautiful journey.

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