Stephen King may love his Constant Readers, but he has a major hate-on for collectors, and people who fetishize authors and/or their work. Besides the popular example of Annie Wilkes, who kidnaps and torments her favorite author in Misery, we can also look to Calvin Tower, whose desire to collect and hoard books almost ends the world in the Dark Tower series. To these maniacs, King adds the nasty wolf, Morris Bellamy.
“For readers, one of life’s most electrifying discoveries is that they are readers – not just capable of doing it, but in love with it. Hopelessly. Head over heels.”
In 1978, Morris Bellamy murders John Rothstein, a reclusive author responsible for creating an iconic misfit named Jimmy Gold. Bellamy feels furious that Rothstein ends his series about Gold by having him settle down, with a solid family and job, after years on the move. After killing the author, Bellamy steals not only the cash in his safe, but also almost two hundred notebooks filled with Rothstein’s unpublished writings. Bellamy buries the loot, hoping to return, but gets nabbed for another crime and sent to jail. Some forty years later, a young man named Pete discovers the trunk full of money and notebooks. And when Bellamy gets released from prison as an old man, he comes back for the trunk — and Pete. Bill Hodges shows up about a third of the way in, and eventually solves the case, with the help of Holly (still nutty, but slightly less so) and our friend Jerome. But the story mostly focuses on Pete, an 18 year old kid with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Mr Mercedes touches a lot on poverty and the recession, and this sequel does the same.
I liked Finders Keepers, although it wasn’t quite as good as the first one. Perhaps because Bill, like Rothstein’s Jimmy Gold, has begun to settle down and straighten up. Also, Bellamy falls a bit more on the ridiculous side of the villain scale, while the previous novel’s Brady Hartfield scared the shit out of me. King hints strongly at Hartfield’s return in the final novel, so that’s a good sign (not for Bill, though). What I liked best about this novel was that (unsubtle) glimpse in King’s mind about a person’s relationship with books and authors, and an author’s relationship with his or her writing. He goes into it in depth in the final two Dark Tower novels (I’m listening to the last one now, which may be why it comes to readily to mind), and he states in both books (and others, I’m sure), something along the following lines: “A good novelist does not lead his characters, he follows them. A good novelist does not create events, he watches them happen and then writes down what he sees.” I kind of love that — no grand inspirations for our man King.