End of Watch
By Stephen King. (Scribner, 432 pages, $30.)

 

Stephen King completes two missions with “End of Watch.” First, he finishes the story he started with 2013’s Edgar Award-winning “Mr. Mercedes” and continued last year in “Finders Keepers.” And in doing so, he also wraps up his unique revision of the hard-boiled detective yarn. While the first book poked at the edges of the genre and the second stretched its conventions, this one blows a hole in the format, interweaving the supernatural and a police procedural.

Our hero is again Bill Hodges, a retired detective turned private investigator who, were it not for the fact he carries a smartphone, could be a contemporary of Sam Spade or Philip Marlow. Hodges is called in to advise on a series of suspicious suicides. The only connection among the victims is Brady Hartsfield, the mass murderer behind the Mercedes Massacre. Except Hartsfield suffered a crippling head injury and is in a vegetative state in a locked hospital ward, so there’s no way he could be involved in the deaths. At least, no earthly way.

The first two books in the series stood as King’s homage to the grizzled, trenchcoat clad, fedora-sporting gumshoes of the pulp detective classics. And this certainly has moments of that, including Hodges informing a female companion, “When it comes to booze, I’ve spilled more than you’ll ever drink, honey.” But as the supernatural element of the plot gains momentum, opening a door to the literary school that King knows best, the story kicks into a higher gear that you don’t even sense is there until you’re caught up in it. In that way, it’s a lot like the suicides that are at the heart of the story.

JEFF STRICKLER, assistant features editor

I Almost Forgot About You
By Terry McMillan. (Crown, 368 pages, $27.)

Lawn chair, check. Warm and sunny spot in your yard or perhaps the lake, check. Now add a great book to read — and Terry McMillan’s latest, “I Almost Forgot About You,” complements summer relaxation. As flowers bloom and new life is born into nature, so too does the main character, Georgia, seek to invigorate her life and reinvent herself. At middle age, Georgia has gone bored with the day to day of being an optometrist, living in a big home by herself and dining alone. Adding salt to the wound are her family and friends who constantly — and I mean constantly — ask her why she isn’t dating or doesn’t have a man.

This question is repeated so frequently that it raises the question, “Does a woman need a man to be validated?” This is the only stain on an otherwise pleasant read. The novel follows as Georgia, mother of two, makes a list of all the men she would like to “close the chapter” upon and sets out to find them. So easy, with the help of Facebook.

Among them are two ex-husbands and a few other unpleasant men. As she works through the list, she makes peace with each of them, realizing with each why it was time to move on from this cheater or that control freak. She also discovers what she is passionate about, unveiling a talent for refurbishing furniture and making decorative pillows.

Georgia prescribes herself a dose of adventure and sets off to see the United States and Canada by train — and, yes, to find love. But not before her friends and family, being well-meaning but meddlesome, help her rekindle a fire she is hesitant to admit that she never put out — for a man she didn’t put on the list, and who was in the back of her mind the whole time.

Melissa Walker, calendar writer