End of Watch by Stephen King

There are multiple “Kings” of music, but there is only one King of writing. Mr. Stephen King takes what is ordinary and makes it extraordinary. End of Watch takes investigative work to the next level—supernatural. And it works! I was so in love with this book, series, and the characters that I was sad when it came to a close; but the ride was worth it.  If you haven’t read Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch, you NEED to get your copies and catch up on what you’ve been missing!

 

SPOILER ALERT: 

 

Firstly, the title itself, End of Watch, is its own kind of foreshadowing. The term “end of watch” is explained by Stephen King as the retirement (or near retirement) of a long-time police officer. Secondly, I love the underlying theme of the novel: suicide. It’s an epidemic in young people that needs to be discussed out in the open. I appreciate that Stephen King reaches out to readers (of all ages) with this motif and in his author’s note highlights the suicide hotline phone number.

What I love most about this series is how Stephen King began each book with a variant perspective of the massacre at City Center. In End of Watch, the point of view is that of the two paramedics that retrieve Martine Stover from the scene and get her to the hospital in time for her life to be saved (although she’s eventually diagnosed a quadriplegic). From there, he leads the story into her and her mother’s, with whom she lives, supposed double suicide. Thus, the investigation begins.

So throughout the book, the time frame alternates between past (of Brady Hartsfield) and present (of the presumed suicides) and finally intertwine in the present in the end. This is how I was kept on my toes.

The deaths of Martine Stover and her mother, Janice  Ellerton, are ruled a murder-suicide (because Ms. Stover is incapable of suicide being a quadriplegic). Until  Kermit “Bill” Hodges and Holly Gibney are brought in by Pete Huntley, Bill’s former partner. They’re secondary investigation turns up the first two major clues disproving suicide: the letter “Z” etched at the scene of Mrs. Ellerton’s death (in addition to finding a “Z” in the garage at the house across the street) and the Zappit game tablet.

Then there’s Brady Hartsfield, aka Mr. Mercedes. [Quick recap: Brady tried to blow up a concert venue with thousands of adolescents present. He ends up in a coma after Holly whacks him over the head with the “happy slapper,” and saving the day.] In this final novel of the series, Hartsfield is waking up. Dr. Felix Babineau decided to slip Brady some unapproved experimental drugs which may or may not have contributed to his waking. Brady never fully regains his faculties, but what he does gain is telekinesis. In addition to these new-found powers, that also allow him to overtake people’s minds and thus their bodies, “Library Al” Brooks unwittingly introduces Hartsfield to the Zappit. The gaming tablet becomes Brady’s portal to others’ minds. Specifically the demo “Fishin’ Hole” that hypnotizes the viewer and during their hypnotic state, they become vulnerable to Hartsfield’s manipulation and mind control.

I mean, WOW. Talk about imaginative. As this is simply a review,  I’m going to keep it simple here. Brady Hartsfield uses Library Al (alias Z-Boy) and Dr. Babineau (alias Dr. Z) and eventually Freddi Linklatter (without mind control) to set up his master plan: Mass suicide through hypnosis. Ultimately, Bill Hodges (labeled as Brady Hartsfield’s nemesis), Jerome Robinson, and Holly Gibney foil his plans and take down Hartsfield, Dr. Babineau, and Al Brooks. Yay, the good guys win!

Throughout the story, the hero, Mr. Hodges, is struggling with his recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. In reality, pancreatic cancer is basically a death sentence. It is the most “sneaky” cancer and arguably the deadliest because most diagnosed patients die relatively quickly. Even knowing all of this, I still held out hope that Bill would make it to remission and live to see another novel. I mean if mind control is acceptable, why can’t this be? But, at around 70 years old, Kermit William Hodges succumbs to cancer and his friends, Holly and Jerome, and daughter, Allie, are forced to bury him. The story wrapped up here with Holly and Jerome sitting in front of a gravestone marked “WILLIAM KERMIT HODGES” and below the dates, “END OF WATCH.” And of course, I cried.

 

© Chelsie Cummings 2016

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