PETE SAUBERS – teenager and son of Tom and Linda Saubers and older brother to Tina
RET.DET. BILL HODGES – retired police detective and head of his newly formed “Finders Keepers” private detective agency
HOLLY GIBNEY and JEROME ROBINSON – Hodges’s two rag-tag, mismatched and highly dependable cohorts
MORRIS BELLAMY – Resident bad guy, ex-con, thief and murderer
Our STORY begins:
In rural New Hampshire, 1978. Morris Bellamy and two friends are robbing an elderly man at gun point in his farmhouse.
This elderly man is John Rothstein. A very famous (and fictitious) author who wrote a trilogy of books sixteen years earlier starring the character Jimmy Gold. King eulogizes this trilogy in a way which made me think it akin to Lord of the Rings or the Starwars series.
The three delinquents in their early twenties force old Rothstein to give them the combination to his safe in his home.
Upon opening it, they find $20,000 cash and dozens of moleskin notebooks. Each is filled with notes on at least one novel (if not two) featuring Jimmy Gold.
Morris Bellamy promptly puts a bullet through the old man’s head and leaves with his buddies, cash and moleskins in tow.
Once on their way to freedom, Morris kills both of his companions at a rest stop. He’s far too smart to let his two dumb friends have a say in what happens to those moleskins.
Not too long after that, Morris ends up in jail on a charge completely unrelated to the theft and murder of the legendary novelist.
However, before he’s thrown in jail he buries his treasure with the dream of one day being released and finally having a chance to read the precious notebooks.
Fast forward to the year 2009 in a random city in midwestern USA. Enter Peter Saubers whose parents are going through an especially difficult time when he discovers by accident, a trunk full of cash and moleskins.
Over the course of several years he sends his parents the money anonymously. It saves the family from divorce and leaves him to deal with the potentially much more valuable notebooks, in secret.
This is where the book really starts to hum. As I read Finders Keepers, I felt like I was watching two trains speeding toward each other, unaware.
There’s no doubt they’ll collide. Just when and how hard are the only variables. It all feels like it’s happening in slow motion too.
What the AUTHOR Accomplishes:
Stephen King turns the screws on the tension with agonizing grace. Two thirds of the way through the book I thought, this guy is a master storyteller.
The book flipped back and forth between time frames. Morris Bellamy begins in 1978. While Pete Saubers starts in 2009. It takes many years; nearly thirty for Morris and four for Pete, but they finally meet for the showdown. We chew our nails to the quick as we watch these trains collide.
Finders Keepers is not only a great story but a real commentary on writing and reading in general. It speaks to the impact books can have on a culture from one of the best authors in the world.
Stephen King name drops living and historical authors alike throughout. Indeed, both the main protagonists (hero and villain) are lovers of books and deep appreciators of the craft of writing.
I found myself inspired while slightly revolted by the happenings.
By the end of the book I wanted Morris dead, but still had respect for his love of Rothstein’s work as he goes down in flames.
The Hiccups & Hitches In This Book Review of Finders Keepers:
My only criticisms of Finders Keepers come near the end.
I found the introduction of Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson to be half hearted and not particularly well fleshed out.
**I didn’t realize until after I’d finished this book that it was the second in a series of three. **
The lack of clarity becomes more understandable once I discovered these characters had already been well established in the first book.
However, that seems to be the only trip up here in an otherwise stellar novel. I genuinely wish one of his beta readers or editors would have picked up on it before the final draft was sealed.
To RECOMMEND or NOT to RECOMMEND:
All in all, this is a superbly written story. King demands his characters dictate the action and direction of the story.
In doing so, the reader is treated to indelible characterizations that are both informative and self revelatory.
In Finders Keepers, King holds our feet to the literary fire. The hope is to ignite an internal denuding which inspires higher thought. It works.
Frankly, this book is a must read. I suspect the other two in the series will be as well.
So that ends my Book Review of Finders Keepers.
I’ve now finished the first book in the series, Mr. Mercedes.
Amos Decker – Amos is our protagonist. He’s a physically huge man, an ex-football player and former police detective. He has hyperthymesia. The condition of having almost perfect autobiographical memory.
Captain Miller – Newly appointed captain of Decker’s old police precinct.
Mary Lancaster – Decker’s old partner when he was on the force as a detective.
Alex Jamison – Tall, very attractive and very ambitious female journalist for a local paper.
The Book Review
The first chapter introduces us to Decker’s condition. Hyperthymesia.
In Decker’s case however, he “acquires” a near perfect memory after a terrible hit on the football field. The tackle leaves his brain changed forever. This includes his memory and personality.
We also find out about the horrendous loss of his family.
He walks into his home one night to find his brother-in-law, his wife and ten year old daughter…
For the next 10 chapters Baldacci writes about Decker without any sustained interaction between him and a pivotal character.
The author wants us to fully understand Decker’s condition, how it came to be, how Decker deals with the devastating loss of his family and his physical surroundings. All this before Baldacci allows us to delve more deeply into the mystery that is to come.
A Few Surprises in Memory Man by David Baldacci
I was struck by how much time the character spent alone in the first part of this book.
There is a lot of narrative which explains Decker’s thought process and how his brain was changed by the accident. We discover how Decker goes from being a respected detective to a getting-barely-enough-work PI.
Memory Man by David Baldacci wants us to get a deep inside look at Decker before he takes us on the rounds.
And it works.
Most novels on the bestseller list (unlike Memory Man by David Baldacci) get you into the action quick and reveal the main character/s through the action taking place. Baldacci introduces Decker in a more methodical way. He’s showing us, from the inside out, who Decker is and what he has to deal with.
It happens to be a perfect set up for the unravelling of what is to come. It’s necessary for us to understand the workings of Decker’s brain before we see his brilliant investigative process. And we get it. The reader really starts to know Decker.
Memory Man is a powerful read. Baldacci has done an excellent job creating this unique character.
Hitches & Hiccups
What he hasn’t done so well is write his female characters.
First there’s Mary Lancaster, Decker’s old partner from his time on the force. She’s described as a “good cop but not great” by the officious Captain Miller. This seems to be a common sentiment among the precinct staff.
Baldacci even has Lancaster asking silly and obvious questions throughout her and Decker’s investigation just to plow home the point.
It was annoying.
Then there was the pretty and ambitious Alex Jamison, resident tenacious reporter.
Baldacci had made sure we knew that Decker is not particularly physically attractive. He’s not just tall and large, he’s fat too. He doesn’t dress well. Amos Decker lives in an apartment complex for single men. He doesn’t make much money as the independent PI he has become since leaving the force. He’s still devastated by the loss of his family and struggles emotionally.
We empathize with Decker. He’s suffered greatly. We respect and admire Decker. He’s incredibly intelligent and hard working. But he’s no heartthrob. No Romeo.
Yet, Baldacci brings Alex Jamison to the edge of flirtation with Decker. The reader starts to wonder how much of her interest is journalistic curiosity and ambition or whether she actually finds Decker appealing. Which seems far fetched.
It was annoying.
All in all though I believe Memory Man by David Baldacci is a must read. The Amos Decker character is a genuinely unique and likable protagonist that you root for and want to see more of.
Indeed, Baldacci has already written a second Amos Decker book… The Last Mile.
Below Baldacci gives us a quick synopsis of Memory Man.
The other video below is of Baldacci recounting his experience with the… FBI? CIA? Listen below…
In This Video David Baldacci Talks About His Experience With A Secret Government Agency. FBI? CIA? Listen to this…