In the third and final installment of the Bill Hodges trilogy Stephen King brings back Mr. Mercedes, “The Mercedes Killer”, Brady Hartsfield back to center stage. Much like the shark in “Jaws 2”, just when you thought it was safe to look away the big, bad guy returns with an even more diabolical plot.
Bill Hodges and his assistant Holly Gibney are now private investigators with their own agency, Finders Keepers. These two are central to the current condition of Hartsfield who lives in a seemingly brain damaged state. Along with their fellow hero, Jerome Robinson, they prevented the maniacal mass killer from taking out an entire audience of concert goers. Holly herself delivered the blow that put Hartsfield in a semi-vegetative state which has prevented him from being tried for his crimes.
However Bill Hodges has reservations about the killer’s condition suspecting he might be faking the extent of his disability. It isn’t long before the reader will learn Bill is right. Not only is Hartsfield in better shape that he lets on, he has also developed skills that make him even more dangerous.
Expanding on the brilliant characters he developed in Mr. Mercedes, King leads the reader down a path of terror and insanity that keeps his audience captive until the conclusion of this dark tale. While Hartsfield is weaving his web of mass destruction never losing his focus on Bill and company, the retired cop faces a personal crisis of his own.
King, as usual, masterfully braids the threads of the events into a cohesive and gripping story that creates a good detective tale with a neat paranormal twist. Dedicated to author Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs), King further pays homage to the creator of Hannibal Lecter by naming one of his characters after Buffalo Bill’s first victim, Fredericka Bimmel (Linklatter).
This is a satisfying conclusion to the Bill Hodges Trilogy. However I am not willing to say farewell to Holly Gibney or Jerome Robinson and his family. I harbor a secret hope King will take another look at these compelling characters and give them another adventure. After all, there’s no shortage of evil doers in King’s imagination.