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  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 6:14 pm on 2015/05/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , mr. mercedes, , , thrillerss   

    Stephen King’s Finders Keepers is a Chilling Portrait of Literary Obsession 

    Billed as Stephen King’s first hard-boiled detective novel, the Edgar Award-winning Mr. Mercedes took readers by storm in 2014. If you were one of the many fans who raced feverishly through it, leaving TV shows unwatched and phone calls un-returned until you reached its blistering finale, then get ready: you’re about to do it all over again with Finders Keepers. Clear your calendar, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

    Finders Keepers opens with the cold-blooded murder of John Rothstein, a legendary and reclusive author who found fame with a trilogy about an iconic character named Jimmy Gold. The controversial third novel in the trilogy ended with Jimmy Gold becoming a successful and obnoxious ad executive, which many fans saw as a disappointing betrayal of his values.

    For rabid Rothstein super-fan and general lowlife Morris Bellamy, whose obsession with the Jimmy Gold books borders on madness, Gold’s selling-out and Rothstein’s refusal to continue publishing amount to a deliberate and personal betrayal. Seeking revenge, Morris breaks into Rothstein’s secluded cabin, kills him, and steals his hidden reserve of cash—but the real prize he’s after is a priceless pile of notebooks containing years’ worth of Rothstein’s unpublished writings, which Morris suspects may continue Jimmy Gold’s story. On the run, Morris hides the novels away, but before he can return to read them, he is imprisoned for an unrelated crime. He then spends decades behind bars.

    Enter: Pete Saubers. When the young boy discovers the long-hidden notebooks years later, Rothstein’s work ignites in him a similar (although much less vengeful) passion, and he finds himself inspired by Jimmy Gold’s continued exploits. But by taking possession of Morris’s stolen treasure, he has unwittingly pit himself against a ruthless criminal. And since Pete happens to be the kind of smart, resourceful child who is perhaps a little too independent for his own good, he soon finds himself trapped in a dangerous, high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It falls to Bill Hodges and his friends Holly and Jerome to protect an innocent child from a killer—and once more, their quick wits and detective skills are challenged as they race against the clock to avert the unthinkable. The dynamic trio is in rare form, and it’s a delight to encounter them again, even if it’s once more under harrowing, sometimes gruesome circumstances.

    Although a reader’s obsession with a writer is a subject that King once tackled indelibly in Misery, he proves with Finders Keepers that it is a deep and rich vein, with plenty of room for further examination. Morris is a twisted criminal, capable of committing hideous acts without remorse, and yet his consuming devotion to Rothstein’s novels, and his enduring faith in the character of Jimmy Gold, is something that any ardent reader can reluctantly, uneasily relate to. Over time, Morris’s bleak, warped life has shrunk in scope and focus, until the stolen notebooks have become the central point of his existence, the promise they hold sustaining him through his many terrible years in prison. His passion for Rothstein’s work, and the way it comforts him, keeping him tethered to a world he is otherwise drifting away from, is nearly as moving as it is unsettling.

    King’s novels are arguably at their best—and most frightening—when his monsters are not supernatural beings, but human beings whose wretched backstories make them almost sympathetic; creatures whose flaws underscore the kinds of dark impulses we recognize within ourselves. A tour de force and worthy followup to Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers manages all at once to be a heart-racing thriller, a fascinating exploration of the relationship between readers, authors, and books, and a haunting story of the powerful impact that literature can have on our lives.

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  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 6:00 pm on 2014/07/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , mr. mercedes, , , ,   

    Stephen King Enters a New Realm of Awesome With Mr. Mercedes 

    Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes

    Hello, Gentle Readers!

    Sorry if I seem frazzled or if I smell unwashed. The truth of the matter? I have spent the past 20 hours quietly inhaling Stephen King’s latest novel, Mr. Mercedes, and in the process I’ve lost all sense of space and time. Not since the final installment of the Harry Potter series has my bladder been so thoroughly put through the wringer. I urge you to join me in my distress and jump on this book immediately!

    “But I hate scary books,” I hear you whine. I grit my teeth, because my mama didn’t raise me to have no patience for whiners, but then I soothe you: You don’t have to be a horror-reading fiend to be totally mesmerized by Mr. Mercedes. In fact, if you turn to its pages hoping for a nonstop horror-fest that will have you sleeping with both a flashlight and mumbling “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts,” you have probably come to the wrong novel.

    This is King trying out something new: It’s hardboiled noir! It’s old-school murder-mystery! Does the story involve murder, mayhem, and a car? Yes. But Christine it is not. Mr. Mercedes is a ticking clock of a mystery, told from the perspective of retired police detective Bill Hodges and the spree killer who went uncaught on Hodges’ watch. When “Ret. Det.” Hodges receives an anonymous letter in the mail from the gloating killer who ran down 9 people with a stolen Mercedes while wearing a clown mask, he has two choices: allow himself to be goaded into depression and suicide, or leave his daytime T.V. and his father’s pistol behind and do everything he can to solve this case and catch this madman. It’s riveting. The only reason you’ll put it down while reading is to occasionally bellow, “WHY HASN’T STEPHEN KING ALWAYS BEEN WRITING MYSTERIES?”

    Actually, to lump the thing into any genre does it a disservice. It may have a mystery element, but it’s a book powered by the specific pathos and patois of its characters, something totally unique to King’s writing. You could easily see the project being grabbed up by someone like Harrison Ford as a vehicle for his twilight years (somewhere, Harrison Ford is preparing to punch me in the face). By the second half of the book, the mystery has been solved, and the book becomes so much of a thriller you’ll  want to dress it up in a red coat and call it Michael Jackson.

    Even if genre lit isn’t your thing, King’s latest is worth a read. It’s awesome to see a writer like King evolve without losing some of the touchstones that have made his work so popular to so many. In this novel, the relationships between Hodges, his teenager neighbor Jerome, and a victim’s cousin, an unstable woman named Holly, become the bedrock of the tale. As always, King knows how to ratchet up the tension. He rips us away from the characters we’ve come to care about in order to shift our perspective and keep us in even more suspense. And it works every single time. READ IT!

    Will you be making Mr. Mercedes your next summer read?

     
  • Melissa Albert 8:30 pm on 2014/07/01 Permalink
    Tags: amos walker, benjamin black, , , , , loren d. estleman, mr. mercedes, , , philip marlowe, , , , ,   

    Keep Cool With 5 New Detective-Fiction Classics 

    New detective thrillers

    Nobody stays cooler than an old-fashioned detective, even when he’s sweating through his suit. As we head into the hottest days of summer, I suggest you chill out with the next best thing after central air: a detective thriller, full of scarred-up heavies, world-weary private eyes, and dames with a secret. Here are some of the year’s best so far:

    Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King
    A grizzled former detective, coming out of retirement for one last case. A crazed mass murderer, determined to kill again. In King’s first work of straight detective fiction, they’re a match made in summer-reading heaven (a place that also serves unlimited strawberry lemonade). The book takes its title from an unsolved crime in which a man behind the wheel of a Mercedes mowed down 15 hapless victims in a frozen midwestern parking lot. Bill Hodges was the presiding detective who never solved the case, and he’s just been pulled back in by a letter from the killer himself. Seatbelts on, and strawberry lemonade refilled. It’s not summer without a new title from King.

    The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
    The last time we saw veteran and private eye Cormoran Strike, he was dodging flashbulbs after debunking a model’s suspicious suicide in The Cuckoo’s Calling. Now he’s investigating a seedy seam of London publishing, after a writer’s latest manuscript, a vicious roman à clef, leads to his macabre murder. J.K. Rowling’s second turn under pseudonym Galbraith is just as satisfying as her first.

    The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel, by Benjamin Black
    Hot summer day, steamy Los Angeles streets, beautiful woman who’s only telling half of what she knows: this is a Philip Marlowe novel, all right. When Claire Cavendish shows up in Marlowe’s office, she claims she’s looking for a missing lover—but the more he digs, the more the pieces of her story refuse to add up. Working off a proposed title left behind among the papers of Marlowe creator Raymond Chandler, Benjamin Black (a pen name for John Banville) adds a new chapter to the series, and he gets the rhythms right, filling his pages with crackling dialogue, existential fatigue, and vividly depicted supporting characters who both help the detective and throw themselves in his way.

    Don’t Look for Me, by Loren D. Estleman
    The 23rd installment in the Amos Walker series takes its title from a note written by a missing woman to her husband, who has turned to Walker to track her down. Like any good disappearance (or is it murder?), the case gathers complications as it rolls along, soon encompassing mob links, a porn studio, drug lords, and more than one woman with claws. The tale is told with the kind of growling, one-liner panache you want from your down-but-not-out fictional gumshoes.

    The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters
    Bonus title! It’s a 2013 release, but Winters’ entry into the hardboiled canon shouldn’t be missed. There’s a mysterious death, a detective with a nose for trouble, and a web of suspects who won’t or can’t talk, but all that is overshadowed by the slow approach of asteroid 2011GV1, which will soon make cellular mincemeat of life on earth. Even Detective Hank Palace can’t explain why he continues to do his job in the twilight before the apocalypse, but he trudges on anyway, collecting clues and searching for meaning in the shadow of certain death.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 6:00 pm on 2014/06/12 Permalink
    Tags: china dolls, congratulations by the way: some thoughts on kindness, dresden files, , frog music, , here we stand: 600 inspiring messages from the world's best commencement addresses, hounded, , iron druid chroniclaes, , , , , mr. mercedes, side effects may very, skin game, , , , , ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked The Fault in Our Stars, Skin Game, Mr. Mercedes, China Dolls,or Congratulations, By the Way 

    IMG_6440What’s that? You’ve cried your eyes sandpaper dry and rent all your garments reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars then watching the movie and then reading it again and filling a bathtub with your tears, and you’re still looking for a book that will give you all the feels? Try Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy. It doesn’t reproduce the exact cocktail of love, angst, and bittersweet parting of Green’s beloved book, but it’s a worthy readalike: a 16-year-old girl discovers she’s dying and creates a bucket list of revenge, enlisting her lovesick friendzoned pal to help her carry it out, but is thrown for a loop (and forced to reevaluate her unexpectedly continuing life) when her cancer goes into remission.

    If Charlaine Harris is the queen of urban fantasy, then Jim Butcher is king: his mega-popular Dresden Files series just hit the top spot on the best-seller lists again with book 15, Skin Game. If you’re all caught up on the adventures of that supernatural detective from Chicago, take a look at Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, starting with Hounded. The series is a fast-moving blend of fantasy tropes and Irish folklore starring Atticus O’Sullivan, a 2,000-year-old druid living on the down low as a bookshop owner (swoon!) and occasionally running afoul of one grumpy deity or another.

    With Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King ramps down his penchant for the supernatural to focus on a more mundane evil, resulting in a detective novel that is all the more terrifying for the plausible banality of the murderous fiend at its center. If you’re looking for another great read that takes you much too far inside the mind of a killer, The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes, should fit the bill; King himself praised it for its clever prose and spunky heroine in The Times U.K., and not just because he hoped it would increase accidental sales of The Shining.

    China Dolls, by Lisa See, takes readers behind the curtain at Forbidden City, an all-Chinese cabaret operating in San Francisco in the 1930s, and tells the story of three of its desirable dancing girls, each with her own troubled, fascinating history. Though at its core a much bleaker story of murder and revenge, Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue, offers a similarly engrossing journey into the past, with another strong female character at its center—Blanche Buenon, a French burlesque dancer determined to bring her friend’s killers to justice.

    In the brief Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, award-winning author George Saunders offers a few reflections on how living a better life means living a kinder life. His remarks, originally delivered in a graduation address at Syracuse University, were published in the New York Times and went viral. If you’re looking for more nuggets of wisdom from some great speakers for the recent grad in your life, Here We Stand: 600 Inspiring Messages from the World’s Best Commencement Addresses has you covered, with speeches by everyone from J.K. Rowling to Dr. Ruth.

     
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