Before noting a couple of negatives about this book, I will declare first that overall I enjoyed it—quite a lot, actually, and perhaps even more than Mr. Mercedes. However, it was not without its issues.
I do not know whether I am becoming more attentive to (and critical of) plot patterns as I get older and mature as a reader, or whether Stephen King is merely simplifying his narratives as he gets older, but this book had some happenstances that were just a little too convenient to be believable (yes, even barring the suspension of disbelief that ought to be employed when reading King). What bothers me is when a character and their story are established as a stand-alone entity (I'm talking about Morris Bellamy in this case), but then are plugged into a preexisting plot in such a way that everything falls into place a little too perfectly. Somehow it feels like lazy writing, or like combining two things that don't necessarily belong, but shaping the narrative in such a way that forces them to belong. Perhaps that is always the nature of sequels to some degree, but it was prominent enough in Finders Keepers to be a tad irksome. I do not expect that all readers will notice (or be bothered by) this angle.
Stephen King does seem to be parring down the length of his books in the past few years (I'm thinking of Revival, Mr. Mercedes, and Doctor Sleep, primarily), allowing stories to glide forward at a steady pace rather than let them breathe and grow incrementally. IT, Insomnia, 11/22/63, Pet Sematary, and Under the Dome, to name a few, took their time allowing the reader to “hang out” with the characters for a while in situations that were at times inconsequential but almost always enriching to the story overall because they brought those people to life. This is not necessarily a criticism, King is still churning out exciting and original work in his mid-sixties, after all, but I have taken note over the past few releases that this quicker pace has become somewhat of a pattern.
That said, the first two-thirds of Finders Keepers were riveting (as was the third, in a different way). I consumed this book in just a few lengthy reading sessions and couldn't help but think the whole time that it could have easily been its own stand-alone book, disconnected from the Detective Bill Hodges trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes. However, there was a sensation of inner glee once Hodges does make his first appearance in the book, a bangin' scene that reintroduces the man at the top of his P.I. game, reminding me of who this character is and why I loved him in the first book. Holly and Jerome return as well, of course, completing the trio of investigating misfits who happen to have an off-kilter talent for sleuthing.
What is rather odd about Finders Keepers is that Hodges, Jerome, and Holly are almost the most insignificant element of the story, even though their characters are what spawned this sequel in the first place. They do have some key involvement towards the end of the book, and the quirkiness of the three of them interacting together makes their presence enjoyable no matter what, but the main bulk of the novel focuses on the madman Morris Bellamy, a boy named Pete Saubers, and the fictional author John Rothstein, whose work ties their fates together in a complicated fashion. As I mentioned, the entire book could have been about Bellamy and Saubers, and would have been no less engaging for it.
Book lovers in particular will find a little something extra to enjoy about this plot, as it deals heavily with literature, its value, and the profound affect a book or series can have on a passionate reader.
In all, this is essentially what one might expect from a sequel to Mr. Mercedes, but that is not to say it wasn't a fun read with enjoyable faces both new and familiar. I will say that the ending particularly delighted me, and for obvious reasons I won't mention why here. Let's just say that book three of the Hodges trilogy ought to get pretty damn exciting.