End of Watch

081016ltpg7pix1-transformedEND OF WATCH
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
432 pages

I’VE always been a sucker for all things which goes bump in the night (of the hantu variety and not the misplaced lampshade or furniture). Bestselling author Stephen King ranks right up there in my category of authors who’ve managed to give me sleepless nights with my bedside lamp switched on while praying no bogeyman with supernatural powers would be tapping on my window as I cower under my blanket.

Without a doubt, Stephen King is one of the world’s most prolific authors. He has been scaring our pants off AND captivating us (like a moth to a flame) with his stories for nearly half a century. His earlier novels got me hooked into reading and his ability to dream up some spectacularly nasty bogeymen (who can forget Pennywise the evil sewer-dwelling clown or Jack Torrance, daddy dearest turned psychotic killer?) has got millions of fans looking over their shoulder nervously at night after putting down his books. From Salem’s Lot to The Stand, King has justifiably earned his Horror King title. And he doesn’t disappoint with this final instalment of his trilogy featuring retired ex-cop Bill Hodges, who along with his nervy partner Holly Gibney, get swept into a whirlpool of murders no thanks to their vengeful nemesis who refuse to stay (brain)dead.

We also get re-introduced to the villain Brady Hartsfield who drove a Mercedez-Benz into a crowd of job-seekers in a desperate bid for notoriety, killing eight and horrifically injuring 15 in Mister Mercedes. This time, computer-whizz Hartsfield, a wheelchair-bound brain-damaged man (after getting conked on the head by Gibney in the earlier instalment) is weaving a web of terror through unnatural means. Staff at the hospital where Hartsfield is committed have reported of strange occurrences surrounding him and Hodges is more than convinced that his old enemy is behind the recent spate of suicides involving survivors of Hartsfield’s earlier carnage with the stolen Benz.

With the trilogy marking the end of Bill Hodge’s journey in crime-fighting, this instalment doesn’t disappoint. We get horrified, thrilled and saddened — a rollercoaster of emotions — that makes this book very hard to put down once you’ve started reading it.

It may not be the kind of vintage King of Salem’s Lot, The Shining and It fame, but Stephen King will always be Stephen King. He’s a masterful writer who’s always able to get away with the most improbable of plots and twists and yet still tell a compelling story.

What’s Hot: Stephen King. Who doesn’t want to read a Stephen King? I’d even read a manual on refrigerators from cover to cover if he wrote it!

What’s Not: What’s not to like? He goes for the reader’s emotional jugular in every one of his stories. Though one wonders — with his forte lying in the darker side of human nature — is King a bogeyman himself?

Editor’s Note : “Hantu”  is a Malay term for ghost

First published in the New Straits Times, 11th October, 2016

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