This will complete my time in the Hodges Universe for the time being. I am looking forward to this novel, but less than when I started. I heard great things about this one, but if it isn’t a drastic change to the first three, I probably won’t love it because detective novels aren’t my cup of tea in general. I am unlikely to finish this 5th book tonight because it is nearly 11 hrs, even at faster speeds. Still, I want time to read Gerald’s Game and at least one more (I’m thinking Insomnia for reasons). 7 Novels is the new goal for #kingathon 2019, where 3 or 4 was the original. No matter what, its a blast to do.
I have a lot I would like to say about this book, which, was a mixed bag with an overall positive experience. Again, we find ourselves in crime novel, this time it isn’t about the chase. Instead, we learn about the crime as the police begin to act. The problem is the evidence doesn’t add up despite the seemingly incontrovertible evidence. Without giving anything away, this novel is very effective in the first half (maybe more) where we are forced with this atrocity slowly learning about the facts. We are left to wonder what is going on. Why does the evidence conflict? I think the premise of this novel is known well enough for the reader to infer what is likely happening, and I want to talk about it because it is a big part of this book. However, if you don’t want any spoilers, stop now.
Imagine a book where a demonic shape-shifting monster feeds on the flesh and emotions of children. You might think I am talking about Stephen King’s IT, but in fact I am talking about The Outsider. King clearly fights hard to distinguish this monster from Pennywise, providing far more exposition to explain in detail what kind of monster this is.
In the end, I think he does a pretty effective job at differentiating the two, but there is still a clear similarity between the two. That’s amusing too because Stephen King films (e.g. the Shining, Stand by Me) are referenced showing Kings works exist in this universe. That is problematic as no one references Pennywise, but a big part of the book is about tying this monster to ancient Mexican monster. It is an essential part of the plot, but this monster is so much like Pennywise. It just doesn’t feel natural. That is the problem, as with End of Watch, with this novel. The ending part felt forced.
The problem for me, lies in the character Holly. She isn’t the main character, but she plays a significant enough a roll to suggest she will have her own series tying to her. I have to admit, I have been disappointed with Holly. I really hoped she would be unique because all the characters glorify her. They call her a spectacular detective skills (she doesn’t work for the police), yet her biggest wins did not tie to her skills but her credulity. Lets break this down. First off, King decides he needs to tell us she is good. He can’t just show it because it isn’t natural, so he is left to force characters to outright say or think to themselves how great she is. Again, if that is true, show us. I am sure some people will say he does. The truth is, he doesn’t. He shows her being credulous and getting lucky in the process. Admittedly, incredulity may be deadly in the King Universe, In the end, she is just a plot device–a convenient device to get his characters to see or believe something for the sake of the plot. It just doesn’t work. It ruined what could have been a great book and made it good. but if we are going down that line, why should we believe in this one monster and ignore all the others (i.e. Pennywise). In the end, Holly is just a way for King to be lazy. I want my characters to work for what they learn, and sometimes that means thinking of more clever ways to get what you want done.
4/5 Stars. which speaks to how strong the novel starts.