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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Stephen King Bill Hodges Trilogy | Review

Do I need to do the whole "I'm a big Stephen King fan" thing again here? Probably not but sure look, I love his books. He's a mighty fine horror writer but not many people know how well he also writes thrillers, crime novels and just plain old drama.

I've been meaning to read his recent trilogy that begins just after Detective Bill Hodges has retired from the police force. This takes place in Mr Mercedes after the frankly shocking introduction where a car-wielding maniac kills his first victims. I was honestly completely hooked on the first book after only a few pages in. Prepare to give up your valuable conversing time with others, you will be reading this book instead (sorry to Himself). 

Bill has had to retire with the knowledge that the "Mercedes Killer", as he's been branded, is still on the loose with absolutely no leads. Bill is struggling with his retirement- at home on his own, watching daytime TV and contemplating taking his own life with his old service revolver, he feels completely at a loss now that he's a "det ret"(retired detective). That is until he receives a communication from the killer himself, luring him into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. There are some really brilliant characters in this; warm, funny, smart, unusual, evil, disturbed and dangerous. The chapters are alternately written from the viewpoint of Bill and the killer (Brady Hartsfield), so I felt like we got a really well rounded feel for the story. I thought Brady was a brilliant bad guy- he's a high functioning sociopath and also a horrific person so it really adds to the tension and I loved the friendship between Bill and his friends and helpers, Jerome and Holly who become his partners in attempting to stop Mr Mercedes, before it's too late.

Finders Keepers picks up some months after the ending of the fist novel. We now find Bill working away as a private detective of sorts, with Holly acting as his side-kick and in-house computer genius. Again, in this book the chapters are narrated in turn between the baddie (now an ex-con trying to track down the manuscript of a famous author he murdered years before in order to get his last known, unpublished work for himself) and the victim (a teenage boy, who unwittingly finds the manuscript in the house his family have moved to) and then, later on, Bill, once he and Holly are on the case. I struggled a bit with this one if I'm honest. Firstly, there are several instances where the killer recalls times he was raped in prison that I could really have done without listening to (I got this one on audio). We get it Steve, he was brutalised and now has nothing left other then the determination to get back to the manuscript. I also missed that relationship between Bill, Holly and Jerome. Jerome has moved away at this stage and although he pops back a few times, it's not really the same. I couldn't really warm to any of the characters in this bar Bill and Holly and they weren't really in it enough for my liking.

Lastly then, is End of Watch and I was so excited for this one because guess who's back you guys? Brady Hartsfield! He's now in a practically catatonic state following the ending of the first book and although he's deemed to be incapable of virtually the slightest activity, Bill is keeping a close eye on him. Especially as victims of the car attack in Mr Mercedes start taking their own lives in very similar circumstances. This book takes a turn for the supernatural, which although not unusual for King, is unexpected in this particular series. Having said that, it did work in the context of this book but I guess the series was good enough on it's own to not need that added element. That aside, I definitely enjoyed this one more than Finders Keepers and there is a definite ending to this so it won't leave you frustrated but I feel like King takes away with one hand and gives with the other sometimes. There's both a happy and a sad ending to this one.

Overall, I enjoyed the series and I think it shows more than ever that King can write thrillers and crime novels equally as well as he does horror so it's worth picking these up. You could also happily just read the first in the series though and not need to carry on with the other two- Mr Mercedes is pretty perfect on its own!

Have you read any of the Bill Hodges trilogy?
What are you reading right now?
To the comments!


  1. I loved Mr. Mercedes, thought it was a really good stab at the old-school kinda Lethal Weapon kind of cop drama. I enjoyed Finders Keepers, but I would have preferred it as a standalone. The third went in a direction that confused me, I didn't love *that* element of Brady's...(trying very hard not to spoil) - "abilities". For me the trilogy came off as a kind of best of or homage to some of his other stuff - Carrie and Misery in particular. I liked it, but it wasn't love. Also I haven't finished a book since before Halloween, I am in a hu-ge slump at the minute.

    1. Yes, I have the exact same feelings as you about the series! LOVED Mr Mercedes, what I loved about it was it was a detective crime story, not a lot of 'horror' and I loved the friendship of Hodges, Holly and Jerome. I liked Finders Keepers, it was a solid story but I also thought it could have worked as a stand alone. I was disappointed by the lack of the 3 amigos, it took ages for Hodges come into the book (about 30% or so into it, if I remember correctly!). I liked that the 3rd book came back to the 1st story but I hated the supernatural turn. I felt like it undermined the tone of the series and wasn't necessary. Again, it could have worked as a standalone with a few tweaks. I felt like it was the same as the Divergent series for me. Loved the 1st book, 2nd was fine, 3rd ruined it!

    2. Yup, agree with you both on this one gals! We're all on the same page by the looks of it! :D