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Literature / Finders Keepers

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Finders Keepers is a 2015 novel by Stephen King, the second in a trilogy that includes Mr. Mercedes and End of Watch. Set a few years after the events of Mr. Mercedes, the plot involves the family of one of the victims of the City Centre Massacre, and revisits Det-Ret Hodges and friends.

The third season of Mr. Mercedes is based on this book (shifting it around from the third in the trilogy rather than the second).

The novel contains examples of the following:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Morris manages to trap Pete in the backroom of Andrew's bookstore.
  • Asshole Victim: Andrew Halliday, who Bellamy butchers as the former is in the process of blackmailing Pete. Later on, as exquisitely hideous as his death is, Bellamy himself falls victim to this as well, burning black in the blaze of the notebooks he stole, and it's almost impossible to drum up any sympathy for him.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Shit don't mean shit", a reoccurring phrase from Rothstein's Jimmy Gold novels.
    • Clack It's the sound of the photo of Brady Hartfield and his mother falling over from Brady's telekinetic pushes.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling : Mostly averted with Tina, but she does end up in trouble, despite Pete's best efforts.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: Pete uses the cash that was with Rothstein's notes to support his family, sending a few hundred dollars every so often through anonymous mail packages.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: a played for drama example; when he takes her hostage, Tina asks this to Morris. Morris however firmly states he has no intention of raping her, since he won't "make that mistake again".
  • Author Appeal : The heart of the plot involves the work of a reclusive author, and the ability (some might say) of literature to change a person's life and heart.
  • Big Brother Worship: Tina really looks up to her brother Pete, hench why she quickly notices something is bothering him while their parents don't seem to realize it. And after she gets Hodges and Holly involved to help Pete, she fears he'll be mad at her for tattling on him.
  • Burn Baby Burn : Pete's solution to his problem.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Pete, the boy who eventually finds Morris' hidden trunk, happens to live in the exact same house that Morris used to live in when he hid the trunk. Later both Pete and Morris independently from each other decide to use the abandoned Rec building as a hideout; Pete to hide the notebooks from the police and Andrew, and Morris to hide himself from the authorities after he has taken Tina hostage. The latter is lampshaded by Morris, who considers it quite logical if you think about it since the Rec is close to the place where the trunk was burried, and both Pete and Morris are familiar with the rec from when it was still open.
  • Composite Character: John Rothstein is a composite of John Updike, Philip Roth and J. D. Salinger.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Morris Bellamy burns to death in the blaze of his coveted books, the narration describing his melting face and charred, skeletal husk of a body as he's incinerated.
  • Damsel in Distress: Tina ends up being taken hostage by Morris in the final part of the story.
  • Defiant to the End: Rothstein, due to his anger and the fact that he considers death by a bullet through the brain preferable to death by Alzheimers or cancer, openly keeps taunting Morris.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Morris likes to think of himself as an intellectual and much smarter than everyone around him. However, most people that have an extended conversation with him tend to see right through Morris and behold a not very bright (but very much unhinged and dangerous) man just playing the part. He tries to sound intelligent, but acts stupidly and can’t even defend his supposedly “strong” convictions, revealing Morris to be a short-sighted thug who happened to have read a couple of books.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Morris expects to get rich quickly by selling the stolen notebooks to a collector (after he read them himself of course). Andrew quickly shatters this dream, stating that nobody would buy those books for several years to come now that Rothstein’s death has been featured in the news. Plus, in order to find a collector that would be willing to pay big money for obviously stolen notebooks, Andrew would first have to set up a shop and gain the trust of these collectors, which could take decades.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • when Hodges is first informed by Tina about Pete and the money, his theory is that Pete’s nervousness is because he is on the run from the people who originally stole the money he found, and somehow discovered he has it. In reality, Pete’s problem at that moment is that he is being blackmailed by Andrew, the bookstore owner he tried to sell the notebooks to. Later in the book however Hodges’ theory does come true when Morris enters the picture, murders Andrew, and then targets Pete.
    • And for the triology as a whole, the scenes with Hartfield foreshadow that Hartfield has not only recovered from his brain injury, but also has started developping psychic powers. This becomes the main plot in the third book
  • Genre Shift: A subtle example. The first book in the Bill Hodges trilogy is a hard-boiled detective story with absolutely no paranormal or supernatural elements. This book stays in the same genre until the very end, where it is revealed that Brady Hartfield (the villain from the first book) has gained telekinetic abilities after awakening from his coma.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: In the climax, after Pete sets the notebooks on fire, Hodges and Jerome have to perform one of these to get Pete and Tina to safety. No such effort is expended to save Bellamy from burning alive.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: When Pete escapes from him at Andrew's bookstore, Morris takes Tina hostage to force Pete to give him the notebooks.
  • Improvised Weapon: The Happy Slapper makes a reappearance. Some decanters full of whiskey also prove useful.
  • Irony:
    • when planning to retrieve the notebooks from Andrew, and later Pete, Morris comes across the abandoned Birch Street Rec building and considers it a perfect place to hide them afterwards, hidden in a box that won't stand out among the many other boxes stored there. The irony? At that moment, Pete has already done just that! (so the police won't find them in case Andrew follows up on his treat to call the cops).
    • It gets even more ironic later on, when Morris really does make the Rec his hideout. Prior to confronting Pete, he breaks into the Rec to hide the bags with his clothes, and uses the boxes that the notebooks are hidden in to first sit on and then as an improvised step to reach the window. At that moment he is literally sitting/standing on the notebooks he wants so desperately, and in the perfect position to take them right there, right then, yet he doesn't know it. He does it again later when he has taken Tina hostage, and uses one of the boxes to sit on.
  • It's All My Fault: Pete really blames himself for getting his mom shot and Tina taken hostage by Morris, believing none of this would have happed if he never found the notebooks.
  • Karmic Death: Bellamy's horrible, line-crossing efforts pay off, and he gets to be with his notebooks forever.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Morris is the kind that tends to think his interpretation of Rothstein’s novels is the correct one and how dare the author himself not follow the path Morris laid out for the character. Rothstein, in an act of defiance and spite, calls Morris an idiot who isn’t even really a true fan of literature.
  • The Lost Lenore: Hodges is still haunted by the death of Janey from the first novel.
  • Mexican Standoff: between Pete and Morris in the climax, with Morris holding Tina at gunpoint while Pete threatens to ignite the notebooks, which he has drenched in lighter fluid. Morris even mentions the trope by name.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: when Pete is forced to move the notebooks from his house because Andrew threatens to send the cops after him, he hides them in the abandoned Birch Street Rec building, hidden in a box marked "kitchen supplies" which he stores in the basement among dozens of other, identical boxes.
  • Never My Fault : Morris blames his mother for his first stint in jail, and Andrew for his second.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Where Hartfield was a racist, Morris Bellamy is a homophobe, repeatedly referring to his gay former partner in crime Andrew as a "homo" in the narration.
  • Posthumous Character: John Rothstein dies in the opening chapter but he impacts the rest of the story.
  • Rape as Drama: Morris rapes a woman while blackout drunk. He is later repeatedly raped in prison.
  • Sequel Hook: Brady Hartfield is faking his brain dead status and revealed to have psychic powers.
  • Shout-Out: Brady's hospital room is 217.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Morris has one of the biggest and worst in all of recent fiction; while many such breakdowns lead to the villain's demise, Morris goes so insane when Rothstein's notebooks are set aflame that he literally roasts himself to a semi-charred skeleton trying to put them out. When your insanity has so far overreached one's natural self-preservation instinct, you know you're dealing with one hell of a breakdown.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Morris gets drunk and wakes up in a prison cell not knowing what happened. It turns out he raped a woman in an alley and attacked the arresting officer.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Morris in the last part of the story had no qualms about taking a 13-year-old girl hostage.
  • Your Head A-Splode: When killing Rothstein, Morris expected a clean death; just a small bullethole in the forehead. Instead he ends up blowing half of Rothstein’s head off.