by Stephen King
In 1978, petty criminal Morris Bellamy robs and murders acclaimed author John Rothstein for ending his famous Runner trilogy on an unsatisfactory note. Prior to the murder, Rothstein had been in reclusive retirement, never publishing another novel but continuing to write in private. More important than the money he steals, Morris covets Rothstein's invaluable notebooks, which contain two books which properly finish the arc of the Runner series. After the murder, Morris hides Rothstein's cash and Moleskine notebooks in a trunk buried near a creek behind his childhood home. Before he can read the manuscripts, Morris is sentenced to life in prison for another crime. Rothstein's murder is never solved.
In the present day, young Peter Saubers now lives in Morris' old home. His father, Tom, was disabled in the events that opened Mr. Mercedes, and the Saubers family is on the brink of financial and emotional ruin. Peter discovers the buried trunk and secretly uses the money to keep his family afloat for the next few years, while gradually becoming engrossed in the Rothstein notebooks. When the money runs out, Pete, now a teenager aware of the true value of his discovery, comes up with a plan to profit from the notebooks. At the same time, Morris, now nearly sixty, has finally been granted parole. He goes to retrieve the buried trunk, only to find it empty. Morris is obsessed with finding the notebooks and learning the ultimate outcome of the Runner series. His search for the notebooks eventually leads him to Peter's family.
As a deadly cat-and-mouse game begins, private detective Bill Hodges, the man who brought down the murderous Mr. Mercedes, is gradually drawn into the mystery of the unknown benefactor who helped the Sauberses through their rough patch. He knows young Pete is hiding something, but he doesn't know that the missing piece of the puzzle is the answer to the decades-old cold case – John Rothstein's murder.