Finders Keepers

Best known as a master of horror, Stephen King's talent has never wholly lain in one genre. Finders Keepers is further proof that he's just as capable of writing a pulse-pounding crime novel as a story that gives readers the heebie jeebies. A sequel to 2014's Mr. Mercedes (though it's not necessary to have read that book to enjoy this one), Finders Keepers follows young Peter Saubers after he finds a buried chest filled with $20,000 in cash and the long-lost notebooks of a John Updike-like author named John Rothstein. Pretending the money is from an anonymous benefactor, Peter uses it to soften the effect of the Great Recession on his family, and in the meantime falls in love with Rothstein's work and keeps the writing to himself. But the man who killed Rothstein and buried the chest has returned and is hell-bent on finding the notebooks.

King's books all hit particular touchstones (young boys in peril, prominent characters who are writers or are fascinated by the written word, the casual indecency of adults to children), and Finders Keepers is no exception. But while the story is familiar, it doesn't feel like a retread, mostly because it's too propulsive. King never lets the tension drop from the very first scene, sending Peter toward a conclusion that, while not surprising, still manages to be thrilling. King may not be the dynamic storyteller he was in his first few novels, but Finders Keepers proves that he can still excite. --Noah Cruickshank, marketing manager, Open Books, Chicago, Ill.

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