icked this one up (as I usually do) in a used bookstore. And as I started reading, I realized it was a continuation from another Stephen King novel I’d read, Mister Mercedes. And that crazy kook from the first novel (with his nasty backstory) is now geeked up in an intensive care hospital, his brains all mushed from a sack of ball bearings swung by plucky Holly just as he’d been about to detonate his bomb in a kiddy concert and scythe down something like 2,000 preteen girls (you say it like it’s a bad thing, right?).
But let me put this down first – you don’t need to have read the first book to pick up this one. I’d pretty much forgotten most of it and I made it through fine.
So what good is a killer who is confined to a wheel chair in intensive care, his motor functions shot? Well, unfortunately for the world around him, his smarmy rich doctor has been trying out experimental drugs on the fellow, slipping around various regulations, using young Hartsfield as a limp guinea pig. And now young Brady is beginning to show improvement. Just not in the way one would like to see it.
Add to this a very addictive game (mesmerizing, actually) that a literary volunteer finds and gives to Hartfield, one that allows mental suggestions to be planted in the subconscious. This will allow Brady to go to town, literally, suggesting actions and eventually controlling other people (i.e. victims).
But Retired Detective Bill Hodges is not out of it yet. Convinced that Brady Hartsfield is still conscious and hiding in his vegetative state and should stand (or wheel-chair sit) trail for the blood he’s shed, he begins to put the pieces together, to figure out just what the killer’s game is. But he’s got his own deadline to deal with – the doctor’s report has come in and it’s not good.
So this is another spinoff for King, a bit of a crime/mystery novel. It’s a good read, as solid as anything King’s produced. My only negative was the whole idea that the chairbound Hartsfield had some sort of minor telekinetic power from his drugs. Frankly, that’s like two amazing things that happened to him and really didn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the story. It could have been left off. And really, I just realized a bit of a plot hole – telekinesis is tied to the mind, not the soul. I can’t say anything without a spoiler but it was a mistake I only just realized. So, whoops. Sorry, King – you should have me as an editor.
But yes, I still liked this one and would recommend it, even Mister Mercedes unseen.