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Review: "End of Watch," by Stephen King

Why make a good thing bad? Mr. Mercedes was a wonderfully wrought, edge of your seat, psycho-murder mystery. The villain was truly perverse, the hero, old, grizzled and wise. It paid off in every respect. Not so End of Watch.

Understand that this book is a sequel to Mr. Mercedes and mostly everything that Mr. King did right in that book, he did woefully wrong here. Let’s break it down. Same characters with engaging personalities – check! Same evil villain now recovering from brain damage inflected on him at the end of the previous book – check! New story and plot line – eh, thumbs down! There’s a mad doctor, telekinesis and (bear with me, I don’t want to underestimate how much I hated this…) our villain now controls at risk teenagers through a video game that causes them to commit suicide. Please! Did Mr. King not see Halloween III, perhaps the absolute worst of all the multiplicity of Halloween films.

I realize that an author has every right and can do anything they want to with their characters and I do believe that this could have been a good story. Then write it. Just have the villain recover and plan another rampage. The sheer goofiness of the video game with its swimming, mesmerizing colored fish just made me laugh. In a theme that seems to be recurring sometimes in King stories the good guys all win. King is at his absolute best when he is brutal and unforgiving and sometimes nails us to the wall with unexpected turns. That is why people love Game of Thrones. In that television series the originators have taught us that we need to be careful where we place our emotions because no one is safe.

Unless you are truly a dedicated, diehard King fan skip this book. By my reckoning, King is two for five in his last quintet of books. He used to be better. Much better.

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