There is perfect symmetry to the way Stephen King aligns the opening of End of Watch, the smashing final installment of his trilogy, with that of its first installment ... when [King] writes here about pain, he does it with astounding honesty ... This is his best book since the vastly ambitious Under the Dome (2009), and it's part of a newly incisive, reality-based part of his career. At some point, the phantasmagorical became less central to him than the frightening prospects to be found in the real world. And he uses his ever-powerful intimacy with readers to convey the damage life can wreak.
So much for the page-turning aspects of End of Watch, which are many, complex, and grimly entertaining. More intriguing is the novel’s emotional heart, which resides in Hodges. As the book opens, the aging detective learns he has pancreatic cancer. He refuses treatment and tells no one, though the loyal Holly quickly figures out the truth. King sends Hodges, and the reader, on a death march in pursuit of Brady...One finishes this novel feeling great empathy for its resolute protagonist, and even greater trepidation about that next round of Candy Crush.
By End of Watch, the trilogy’s conclusion, the hints of weirdness that King has sprinkled through Finders Keepers have blossomed, Brady’s supernatural abilities are in full flow and King has turned a series that started out as a straight hard-boiled detective story into the horror he is better known for ... the hunt is on, ramping up at a frightening pace to a gory confrontation that pays bloody homage to the creator of one of fiction’s most enduring serial killers, Thomas Harris (to whom the book is dedicated). End of Watch may be a return to more classic King fare, but it’s still Bill and Holly’s decidedly down-to-earth detecting that makes the novel shine. I’d back these two anywhere, and can only hope that, as King recently hinted, he might return to these characters.