Saturday, July 16, 2016
Follow the fish
Stephen King is 68, which I know isn't old old but goddamnit he's starting to write things like an old man and it worries me. I'm part of a generation that has never NOT had a new Stephen King on the racks once every year or so (and, let's be honest, it's more like once every seven months or so). I've grown up reading King, I've gone from panicked, wide-eyed, under-the-covers-to-keep-the-monsters-out-reading at thirteen to rushed, wide-eyed, I-can-squeeze-in-another-five-minutes-on-my-lunch-break-reading at twenty-nine. Every new King novel is intoxicating for me, I want to rush through it and rip the story into little bites that I can shove in my mouth as fast as I see them and I know someday that will no longer be a joy I can have and it worries me, and makes me sad, and King seems to be writing like he knows that. Like he and Bowie got together and talked about how they'd troll their fans.
End of Watch is like that. I raced through it, I adored it, and it scared me badly in a way that goes well beyond the spine-tingling creeps in the story. I mean, fuck, even the title's a bit grim and on-the-nose, isn't it?
This is a brand new book so I don't really feel comfortable saying anything about it out of fear of sharing spoilers. I'll just say that I really think it delivered in terms of the series, and that the writing in it seemed stronger than Finders Keepers and the story was a satisfying conclusion to the groundwork laid out in Mr. Mercedes. Actually this may be the best King novel in terms of pace, craft, and plot that I've read in years. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but perfect is the enemy of good and End of Watch really is a very good book. And it's a very good Stephen King book specifically - it includes many elements that have been absent in King's more realistic fiction but combines those old standards with the exploded-mystery-novel feel that's been present through the whole of the Bill Hodges trilogy.
And now that the trilogy is done I feel totally comfortable recommending it. It's all worthwhile to read and I may make time to read through the whole thing in the next couple of months so I can review it as a whole without worrying about spoiling it within a month of publication. There ARE things I have issues with in all three books (primarily the stereotypically racist diction that one character repeatedly falls into - and having all of the characters in the story realize the diction is a part of a racist stereotype doesn't excuse it). The good far outweighs the bad, overall, but I don't want to give the impression of perfection.
King, Stephen. End of Watch. Scribner. New York: New York. 2016.