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Literature / End of Watch

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End of Watch is a 2016 Detective Fiction/horror novel by Stephen King, and is the final book in the trilogy centering around mass murderer Brady Hartsfield and retired detective Bill Hodges.

By all accounts, Brady Hartsfield is nonfunctional - while no longer completely comatose, he's barely able to communicate or move. However, his mind is far more active than he lets on, and he has sinister plans to finish the work he started in Mr. Mercedes and get revenge on the meddlesome cop who ruined his life.

Preceded by Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers and followed by The Outsider (2018).

This book provides examples of the following:

  • Big Damn Heroes: Jerome, in the climax, arrives just in time with a snowplow to save Hodges and Holly from Brady
  • Bittersweet Ending: Brady is finally defeated once and for all and dies at his own hand, but not before killing at least another fourteen people. Hodges succumbs to his cancer during a Time Skip in the epilogue, but goes out peacefully, with Holly and Jerome resolving to survive him and make good of their lives.
  • Body Surf: Brady eventually uses his new Grand Theft Me abilities to permanently take over Dr. Babineau's body. And he plans to keep doing this with other host bodies in the future to endlesly extend his life
  • Car Fu: Or rather, Snowplow Fu. Turns out Brady was right all along: payback really is a bitch.
  • Chekhov's Gun: the rather annoying text alert that Holly put on his phone (a pane of glass breaking, followed by a voice shouting "THATS A HOMERUN!") ends up saving Hodges during the climax; it snaps him out of the zappit induced hypnosis just as Brady is about to take over his body.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Hartsfield dies, and fittingly enough, perhaps one of the most gruesome deaths in King's mythos: suicide after being functionally torn in half by a snowplow.
  • Driven to Suicide: Happens to the unfortunate people who have the rigged Zappit games, as Brady can project himself into their minds through the Fishing Hole demo and convince them to kill themselves.
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: The annoying text alert message Holly installed on Hodges phone.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Brady, surprisingly, feels some regret towards having to destroy Dr. Babineau's core consciousness when he permanently takes over the latters body, comparing it to ISIS destroying ancient and irriplacable monuments.
  • Gassy Scare: At the start of the story, 2 ambulance drivers named Rob Martin and Jason Rapsis are send to check on a man named Harvey Galen, who is suffering from severe chest pains. However, after a few belches and "a trombone blast from the nether regions that had his social X-ray of a wife booking for the kitchen", he already feels much better.
  • Genre Shift: Compared to the previous two books. Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers were both fairly grounded in reality, with no supernatural elements. This book however introduces telepathy, and the powers that come with it. This trend continues in The Outsider (2018), which features an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Grand Theft Me: Brady gains the ability to project his consciousness into other people who are in a hypnotic trance. What causes this is never made clear, but it's implied to be a side effect of the experimental drug Babineau was testing on him.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Jerome hits Brady dead-on with a snowplow at the end of the book. With loving, amazingly graphic detail, the treads rip him violently in half.
  • Karmic Death: Brady Hartsfield, whose career as a serial killer began with with a gruesome vehicular massacre and ended with a telepathically-induced suicide epidemic, is forced to kill himself after being crushed beneath a snowplow.
  • Mind-Control Device: The Zappit game machines. The loading screen for the Fishing Hole game is known to have a hypnotic effect which Hartsfield uses to take over some people's minds and induce others to commit suicide.
  • Mind Rape: Al Brooks and Dr. Babineau have their minds corrupted and eventually overwritten by Brady.
  • 90% of Your Brain: Holly theorizes that this might be the source of Brady's sudden telepathic abilities, and that she probably unlocked this dormant 90% of his brain when she bashed his skull with the Happy Slapper.
  • Pocket Protector: An absurd combination of layers of clothes and objects in her breast pockets saves Freddi when she's shot by the Brady-possessed Babineau. It's enough to make one wonder if King took a bit of inspiration from a certain old Bull Moose.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted by Pete, Hodges's former partner, who does what he can to help. Played straight by Isabelle, Pete's current partner, who is more concerned with advancing her career, and would rather ignore the case to avoid the risk of looking bad by being unable to solve it.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Done with almost hilarious ceremony. Thanks to a combination of stuffed pockets and pure, insane coincidence, out-and-proud lesbian Freddi Linklatter survives to the end of the story despite being shot point-blank in the chest by Brady.
  • Shout-Out : Room 217. Also, Freddie's full name Frederica Bimmel Linklatter.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Hodges is diagnosed with extremely advanced pancreatic cancer, and is given only a year or two at best. He is beginning treatment at the start of the epilogue, but dies roughly eight months later.