Review: Finders Keepers – Stephen King

2

Bill Hodges #2

SYNOPSIS: Wake up, genius.

The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years. – via Goodreads

Oh my goodness! I somehow managed to publish Mr Mercedes and then End of Watch, but forgot this one in between! That is awful!

You know, I liked Mr Mercedes well enough, and was interested to see how the story would continue, and I must say, I liked this even more than the first. Not because the first wasn’t good, it was, but this one just worked more for me, I don’t know. I really liked the concept. Brady Hartsfield is, without a doubt, the stronger villain, and I am hoping he will make his return in End of Watch, but Morris was a solid bad dude, and I really liked Pete.

Finders Keepers starts the story off way back in the day with a crazy murder, and progresses to a modern day time. It takes about a hundred or so pages before Bill and Holly make their appearance, but this doesn’t detract from the book. As is typical Stephen King, you get drawn in by the characters you are reading about, and it just works so well. Naturally he blends it seamlessly from the story told into Bill’s connection, and it works.

It’s great to see characters such as Jerome and Holly returning, and to see how well the two books tie into each other. They feel like they gel well, so that is good. Not like trying to tell stories without remembering that they are all linked together, and I like that, though King is the master of world building.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I am looking forward to seeing how King closes off this trilogy. I can highly recommend these ones, especially for someone who wants to give King a shot. They are different from his usual works in that these are more detective mystery novel type deals as opposed to horror and drama, but they work and are good.

Review: End of Watch – Stephen King

2

Bill Hodges Trilogy #3

SYNOPSIS: In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city. – via Goodreads

And so ends the Bill Hodges trilogy, and that’s sad, too, because I enjoyed the trilogy. This one definitely had me drawn in because I wanted to see Hartsfield and Hodges have their showdown again, for them to go toe to toe and all that, and I was not let down, though I honestly was hoping that Hartsfield was more Carrie than an electronic handheld device, but no matter.

End of Watch is, of course, well written, and brings Hodges, Holly, and Jerome back together, and I always like it when the trio teams up and gets to it. This is definitely the first of the three books that goes back to a typical strange, supernatural King story as opposed to the simple, clean investigative mysteries so far, which I like, as it marries this current series with a style of his we are more familiar with, and he does it successfully.

This is a fast, easy read, and I must say that the story was engaging. A little more predictable than some of the other work we are more used to from King, but well worth it. I don’t really have an awful lot to say about this, other than I enjoyed it.

End of Watch is a solid end to a good trilogy, and I enjoyed it. Well written, good pacing, characters we have come to love, I would recommend this trilogy for anyone wanting to check out King, especially if they are looking for his work that is not firmly rooted in the supernatural horror.

Review: Mr Mercedes – Stephen King

6

Bill Hodges Trilogy #1

SYNOPSIS: In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable. – via Goodreads

This is yet another of those books that I have been meaning to read and just never got to… I am seriously starting to contemplate a book blind spot list alongside my movie one! Anyway, I have thoroughly been enjoying the King books I have been reading recently, and decided that now was a fantastic time to dip my toes into this trilogy, and boy, I wasn’t wrong!

King, as always, weaves some truly interesting characters. These didn’t necessarily feel as nuanced as some of his other works, but they were good. I really liked Jerome, he was a really good character, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his interactions with Holly as well as Hodges. Holly, too, was a character I grew to like a lot, as I was rather suspicious of her initially. Hodges and Janey have such a lovely relationship, and it was something I did look forward to.

Mr Mercedes is a book that gets down to business relatively fast. There are characters we meet, they get killed, and the story gets underway. The books breezes by really quickly, too, so it just gets into the swing of things, and reads as though this is not the first instalment in a series, which is an art to be appreciated. The humour, too, was pretty solid here, and I had a few smiles throughout. I also really liked the Judas Coyne reference that was thrown in here by King – little Easter eggs like that are thing I super enjoy in his world.

Brady is an engrossing villain, too. I was hooked reading all his pages, though he made me sick. Without a doubt he was definitely off his rocker in some fundamental ways, and it was so sad to read about his childhood – not for him, but for Frankie. The relationship between him and his mother is proper disturbing, too.

Mr Mercedes might not be King’s greatest work, but it is definitely still well worth the read. It flows well, has a good story and it is interesting, and is peppered with characters you will get involved with and invest in. I will definitely be checking out the other books in this series.

Review: Wrath – T.R. Ragan

0

Faith McMann #3

SYNOPSIS: Those who hunt monsters must be careful not to become monsters themselves.

In another life, before human traffickers murdered her husband and stole her children, Faith McMann was a wife, mother, and teacher. Now she has become Furious, a merciless avenger on a deadly mission to retrieve her young son and daughter, no matter the cost.

Aided by unlikely but steadfast allies, the giant Beast and fragile Rage, Faith plunges ever deeper into a sickening underworld of sexual exploitation and slavery with steel-forged determination and righteous anger.

In this powerful, suspenseful conclusion to the Faith McMann trilogy, Faith is haunted by questions: Even if her children are recovered, will they be broken beyond repair? What terrible sacrifices will their rescue require? What are the limits of loyalty and love in a world that preys on innocents? And after her brutal awakening to the darkest aspects of human nature, what will remain of her own self? – via Goodreads

There we go, wrapped up and all done. I totally raced through these books, I was so hooked from book one, so I have to give this trilogy credit for that. Yeah, there are flaws, but the story keeps you hooked if you can overlook a few blunders to get to it. Then when you are there? Fantastic.

This book immediately picks up after the events of the Outrage, and keeps going. The story is at least finished here, as anymore would have started to feel like we were being taken for a ride. Faith is still damaged as all hell and desperate to find Lara, now that she has Hudson home. Faith’s family is still something lovely, and Beast, Vinnie, and Rage all gang together. It was nice to have a look see some more at the relationship between Beast, Vinnie, and Rage, and I was stoked to see some happiness what with Rage reuniting with her son. It was a good silver lining.

The book continues to deal with the sticky, icky world of human trafficking, and it’s still quite an intense read.

Wrath provides a satisfying finale to a solid trilogy. It is well paced, delivers all the goods, and is well worth the read provided, of course, that you are willing to suspend belief and hop along for the ride. I recommend this.

Review: Outrage – T.R. Ragan

2

Faith McMann #2

SYNOPSIS:  The happy life Faith McMann knew as a wife, mother, and teacher was destroyed when vicious criminals murdered her husband, kidnapped her children, and left her for dead. After paralyzing grief, fear, and despair, there was nothing left for her to feel…except fury. But striking a staggering blow against a brutal ring of human traffickers was just the beginning of her uphill battle.

Though her daughter remains missing and her son is lost in the wilderness, Faith’s relentless efforts have reunited some children with their families. They’ve also made her and the rest of her family the targets of a sadistic crime boss. But Faith has learned plenty about survival in the lawless underworld she’s storming. And she’s forged an unbreakable bond with two no-holds-barred allies in the war against evil. As they dodge assassins and take down predators, Faith travels deeper into the heart of darkness, determined to rescue her children at any cost. – Goodreads

So I blew through this one directly after having finished the first as I liked it that much. I thought that this was another solid read, and I quite liked it. There are a lot of things going on in this one, but it never gets messy in the way that it detracts from the story.

We get a closer look into the relationship between Beast and Rage, and especially with Little Vinnie in the mix, you have to appreciate it. It is also nice to get to know a little more about the characters and make them tick. Faith, too, grows a lot more and you can totally understand her frustration. Yeah, there are plenty “convenient” plot devices and things, sure, but it tells the story. Naturally you are not expecting a totally realistic story when going in for something like that. I still really like the family bond in Faith’s family, they truly do stand together.

This trilogy deals with a rather heavy concept – trafficking is not a light subject, and this book takes the horrors and weaves a fictitious story between it, but never minimizes the fact that the issues are real and truly despicable. The suffering is real and never undermined or forgotten. Miranda gets some more time and some payback in here, and I like that.

Outrage barrels along just as rapidly as Furious, never losing you along the way and keeping you hooked throughout. Again, it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of filler in this, which makes for another great read. As you guys can tell, I am highly enjoying this series of T.R. Ragan, and highly recommend it, providing you can deal with a heavier story than most authors are willing to tackle.

Review: Furious – T.R. Ragan

2

Faith McMann #1

SYNOPSIS: Faith McMann comes home to a nightmare: her husband is killed and her son and daughter are taken. Although the intruders leave her for dead, she survives. Crippling grief and fear for her children make life unbearable. Until her anguish turns to anger…and she trades victimhood for vengeance.

Frustrated with the law’s efforts, she takes action to rescue her children—and wreaks havoc on the brutal criminals who tore them from her. With her family and newfound allies at her side, Faith descends into the hellish underworld of human trafficking, determined to make those who prey on the innocent pray for mercy.

The forces she’s up against have already proven that their ruthlessness knows no bounds. And there’s nothing they won’t do to turn Faith’s crusade into a suicide mission. But they’re about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a mother fighting for her children—especially one who’s earned the nickname Furious. – via Goodreads

Well, well, well. I picked this trilogy up on special on Amazon the other day as I was interested to see how Ragan would put this trilogy together. So far I have felt her books can be hit or miss, and upon thinking about it more, it’s mainly her Lizzie Gardner series that annoys me, as I am rather enjoying the Jessie Cole books and then there was this outing for Faith McMann and I was hooked! The more I read from Ragan, the more I look forward to checking out her work.

Furious deals with an icky story. It’s a little preposterous in the beginning, and takes a few seconds for you to give a damn about what is going on, but before you know it, you are dragged into this whirlwind horror of human trafficking and a mother going above and beyond to recover her children. The book flows really well, making this a super fast read, and it is engaging throughout. It doesn’t have any sections that drag too much, either, which I appreciated.

For the most part, the most fleshed out characters are our lead protagonist and shortly after that we have Beast and Rage, and they are more fleshed out than other characters. The others all serve their purpose, but they are just there. Faith really has a solid, supportive family, too, which I like.

Trafficking is not a joke, and it sheds a little look into the horrors of it, but doesn’t linger too long on the super nasty bits. I think if it delved into that too much there are a lot of people that would not be reading this based on the content. I wasn’t uncomfortable so much as sad to know that trafficking is a real thing and it is horrendous how people would use actual people as commodities without giving a crap about them being real people. This is a tough topic I am not going to get into, just know that it is a driving factor of the book.

Furious is a fast read that truly gets under your skin but keeps you coming back for more. It is an interesting story, albeit far fetched in some places, with a lot of things happening conveniently. It does not detract from the read, making it a fast paced action you cannot resist. Highly recommended.

Review: The Last Town – Blake Crouch

1

Wayward Pines #3

SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed.

But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity. – via Goodreads

Well there we have it folks, the trilogy is done. It’s a super fast trilogy to read, and I am glad that it is all done and dusted now. While not this insanely intricate trilogy, it was fun, albeit predictable and a little silly. Each book has a distinctly different feel to it, and this final one was through and through survival horror, but it was good.

Absolutely nothing shocking came to  light here again, but it was interesting to read about what happened in Wayward Pines after that cuckoo -crazy Pilcher shut off the power. Issues are addressed in this book, the ego of man, but there is no real and substantial lesson to be learned here. The book focuses on the residents of Wayward Pines and the narrative flicks between some characters, be it just to tell about a slice of horror, or to contribute to the main story overall.

Ethan is still not a character I am particularly sold on, and the supporting characters don’t really win you over either. There are still more fragmented sentences than you can shake a stick at and The Last Town still sports the phenomenally questionable and impossible logic and reasoning as its predecessors, but when ones does not focus too closely on that. It barrels on as a light, entertaining read. I am still frustrated at how one dimensional the characters are, and how preposterous things are at times, as well as the silly interactions between people. They come across as so hollow.

I have noticed that these novels are particularly popular and have a loyal following, and maybe I expect more mystery from a thriller, and you know, maybe more thrills, but I could recommend these books if you are looking for a light, quick read. Maybe you find more heart in it than I did. Either way, I don’t regret having purchased these, and they kept me buy and intrigued for a few hours – enough so that I read them back to back, not as filler reads.

Review: Pines – Blake Crouch

2

Wayward Pines #1

SYNOPISIS: Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. – via Goodreads

I’ve always wondered about these books, and been interested in checking them out, and just never got to it until recently. Amazon had them on special, so figured I would get my hands on them and see. I have never read anything about them and I have not watched the show, but I see it cropping up all over the place, hence I thought it might just be time to look into it.

Reading this, the first thing that popped into my mind is that it read like a Koontz novel. The longer I read, the more it reminded me of Koontz’s The House of Thunder in specific.I have not read spoilers for this story (there are few things I abhor as much), but the twists and turns in this novel did not really keep me in suspense. Why? Because I felt it was really predictable, and nothing really shocked me.

So let’s start with this – the premise is interesting. It is. A special agent in an accident and suffering from amnesia in a creepy little Stepford style town? For sure. Soon after that though it becomes evident that our leading man is not a particularly likable character, and there is a lot of him running back and forth but nothing happening. That does not necessarily make for a boring read, and it helps in this regard that the writing is not particularly meaty – meaning you are really just going to run through this, there is nothing you are going to chew on and think over, to really get involved with. So it certainly scores in the way of a quick read with an interesting premise, even though the execution is a little weak and definitely leaves one wanting. The fragmented sentences littered throughout the book were a source of endless frustration for me though, seriously!

I feel that Pines is a messy book, but entertaining. There was enough mystery to keep me going, although I had pegged the majority of the outcomes and plot twists before they were delivered, and the reveals were no shocker, save one. I have also got to admit that the reasoning behind things as well as some of the logic is completely preposterous, something I struggled to buy into. I know it sounds like a lot of bitching, but the story flows fast and it does pull you in, even though a lot is left to be desired. All that being said, I will check out the next novel in this trilogy. The completist in me will have me read all three; for the sake of completion as well as the fact that I paid for them.