Book Review: The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

stephenkind_billhodges_trilogy

When you think Stephen King, you think horror. Even if you haven’t read his books, you’ll know the movie adaptations of It, Misery, Carrie, The Mist, The Shining, The Green Mile, I could go on.

But for me, the stories that get under my skin the most are the ones where the villian is human, without supernatural powers. The Bill Hodges Trilogy is exactly that – at least most of the time. 

The book series revolves around the event described at the beginning of the first book, Mr. Mercedes. The beginning of the book focuses on a bunch of people waiting in line for a job fair during the recession back in 2009. Brady Hartsfield, the villain of this story, steals a Mercedes and uses it to plow through the line of people, killing and injuring many. Throughout the series you will learn that Hartsfield has a weird fascination with suicide, and his mission is always to kill his victims. Whether he murders them or convinces them to commit suicide.

In the first book of the series, King leaves behind his usual style and focuses on writing a compelling detective-style book – and he mostly succeeds. The cat-and-mouse game between protagonist Bill Hodges and Brady Hartsfield kept my attention, and made me very excited about the rest of the series.

Finders Keepers, the second book in the trilogy, takes a different route by focusing on a family that has been directly affected by Hartsfield. Hodges and the villain himself barely show up in the book, but it doesn’t feel weird or unnatural. Brady is spending his days in the hospital in a near vegetive state, unable to stand trial. Hodges visits him sometimes, taunting him. The ex-cop is sure that Hartsfield is faking it, and the first paranormal aspects of the story are introduced here. There are several nurses that recount strange things happening in Hartsfield’s room, such as subjects moving and doors closing.

In End of Watch, the paranormal aspect of the series becomes more apparent. The reader is never quite sure what led Brady to develop his abilities, but it seems to be a combination of brain damage and illegal drug therapies. In the third book, his abilities are stronger than ever before and he is able to possess the bodies of others through a specific game tablet called a Zappit.

The last book is vastly different than the other two novels, and for readers that went into the series thinking they would get a good detective story, that might be a disappointment. For me, the transition seemed pretty natural, and for anyone who has ever enjoyed a classic King novel, this will be an enjoyable ride.

Altogether, this is a great trilogy for anyone who enjoys typical pulp detective with some King horror thrown in. The series would make a good movie adaption if done well, although the third book will be a challenge to translate onto the screen.

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