Stephen King still seems to be on a creative roll, producing books at nearly six-month intervals. He delivered “Joyland” and “Doctor Sleep” in 2013, and 2014 saw the publication of “Mr. Mercedes” and “Revival.” One might quibble about their relative merits, but all were ambitious, well-plotted novels executed with cleverness and care.

Two new books by King will appear this year. We’ll have to wait until November for his story collection, “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams,” but “Finders Keepers,” the sequel to “Mr. Mercedes” and the second volume of what’s shaping up to be the “Bill Hodges Trilogy,” is available now.

The novel opens in 1978, with the invasion of John Rothstein’s New Hampshire cabin. The 80-year-old reclusive novelist wakes to find three intruders in his bedroom, demanding money.

One of the crew, Morris Bellamy, wants more than cash, however. He’s obsessed with Rothstein’s literary output, to the point of mental instability. The elderly writer characterizes Morris perfectly when he says, “It’s guys like you who give reading a bad name.”

Although Rothstein hasn’t published any new material in decades, it’s rumored that he has completed at least one more novel. Morris wants to see whether Rothstein actually allowed his signature character, the iconoclastic Jimmy Gold, to “sell out” for a career in advertising. Morris’s violent insistence leads to the unearthing of a cache of notebooks, a literary treasure of inestimable value, one that costs Rothstein his life.

Before another act of violence puts him out of commission for a long time, Morris is able to hide the money and the notebooks. The stash stays hidden for decades, until a young teen named Pete Saubers stumbles across it. Pete’s father was critically injured when the psychopath known as Mr. Mercedes drove his vehicle into a crowd lining up for a local job fair. The Saubers family is on the verge of disintegrating from financial and medical stress, so Pete devises a plan to funnel the windfall to his parents.

He’s a smart kid, but even so, he’s not able to suss out all the ramifications of his scheme. When Morris Bellamy returns, looking for what he believes belongs to him, the safety of Pete’s family depends on a set of unlikely heroes. Foremost among them is Bill Hodges, the retired cop who helped foil a second terrorist plot by Mr. Mercedes four years earlier.

The dedication to “Finders Keepers” reads “Thinking of John D. MacDonald.” The homage to the late, great pulp writer is apt. Bill Hodges is no Travis McGee, but “Finders Keepers” feels like one of the many stand-alone thrillers MacDonald devised during his long career, such as “A Flash of Green” or “The Executioners,” filmed twice as “Cape Fear.” Like MacDonald, King possesses a keen sense of the nuts-and-bolts of everyday American life, and he knows exactly how to infuse it with escalating menace.

In April, “Mr. Mercedes” earned King an Edgar Award for best mystery novel. Although solidly constructed, “Finders Keepers” isn’t likely to garner as much attention. It’s a middle book in a trilogy, and its premise doesn’t feel quite as fresh as that of the previous volume. It also hints that a more compelling narrative may still lie ahead, with Hodges and his associates likely to face off against Mr. Mercedes again in the final installment.

“Finders Keepers” also hews a little too closely to the themes and mechanics of another, better King novel. As literature-obsessed villains go, Morris Bellamy pales in comparison with “Number One Fan” Annie Wilkes from “Misery.” Although exciting and well choreographed, the climactic showdown in “Finders Keepers” between Morris and Bill Hodges feels a little too pat.

Nevertheless, the novel mostly delivers on what it promises: a gripping setup, a group of resourceful good guys, an antagonist capable of terrible violence. It also speaks to the powerful allure of fiction, of how a great story can capture someone’s imagination and make him or her see the world in a completely different way.

Prolific and personable King seems to be the complete antithesis of the reclusive, withholding John Rothstein. That’s something for which his legions of adoring fans can be extremely thankful, as they await the wrap-up to this intriguing trilogy of hard-boiled thrillers.

Mike Berry is a freelance writer.

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