Title: End of Watch.
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy #3.
Writer(s): Stephen King.
Narrator(s): Will Patton.
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio.
Release Date: June 7th, 2016.
Length: 12 hours and 53 minutes.
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Bill Hodges Trilogy:
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.
Finders Keepers by Stephen King.
Dark thoughts, the bane of a suggestible and vulnerable mind, are powerful enough to destroy lives. Effortlessly dismissed by some as reason and logic take over their resolve, for others, it settles into the gloomy corners of the mind, takes root, and blooms under the right conditions. Albeit difficult to control, these twisted ideas crawling into one’s mind are not always nascent out of a miserable past or traumatic events. They come and go spontaneously, sometimes purely from recent mentions or latent thoughts. But what happens if they’re amplified by a voice? A voice that might not necessarily be yours? Concluding his detective mystery thriller trilogy, writer Stephen King brings back his diabolical Mercedes Killer in a final showdown with retired detective Bill Hodges.
What is End of Watch about? Back in Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic lies Brady Hartsfield, the deranged perpetrator behind the infamous Mercedes Massacre, in a vegetative state for over five years. While retired police detective Bill Hodges was convinced that it was always all a farce, continuously visiting him in case he ever started talking, mysterious things have been happening behind closed doors. Brady now has unimaginable destructive powers that might be at the heart of a series of suicides occurring around Bill Hodges and his Finders Keepers investigation agency partner Holly Gibney. The question remains: Can they stop Brady before he enacts his ultimate revenge or become victims of his evil schemes?
“Payback is a bitch, and the bitch is back.”— Stephen King
I guess the third and final book of any trilogy is not an easy exercise even for a master storyteller like Stephen King. Not to mention that Finders Keepers was a very odd sequel to Mr. Mercedes where the whole core cast of the first book makes an appearance only to feel shoe-horned into a story that barely has anything to do with Mr. Mercedes. This time around, writer Stephen King doesn’t content himself with remaining within the mystery thriller genre as he returns to his own roots and administers a wickedly awkward dose of supernatural into his beloved antagonist to make him relevant once more to this trilogy. While it might be a welcome twist to well-versed Stephen King readers, it makes for a lazy, although a bit entertaining, escape from building a thoroughly thought out psychological and plausible narrative to conclude the adventures of Bill Hodges.
Overlooking the difficulty to suspend disbelief regarding this supernatural revelation, the narrative is still an engaging thriller, wonderfully narrated once more by Will Patton, slowly building up the return of the antagonist without delving too deeply into the hows of things. The story also gives a bit more breathing room to build on Bill Hodges’s health issues, his relationship with others, and his vulnerabilities but, even after two books, isn’t enough to make his character particularly complex or developed. The central theme of suicides is also dominant within the plot, referring to Brady Hartsfield as the Suicide Prince, after all. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t focus on the complexity of the issue as much as it makes it the main source of chaos to push the characters to act faster and more recklessly. Although there’s still plenty to enjoy with this finale, the first novel, Mr. Mercedes, was the best of the run and should be left as a stand-alone reading experience.
End of Watch is a flat yet sufficiently diverting finale to the Bill Hodges trilogy that brings back an infamous psychopath with a supernatural twist in a tale of revenge and suicides.