Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton)

In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

Stephen King has always been one of my favourite authors but his newer stuff has been somewhat disappointing, not quite reaching the level of his older novels. However, his fiction always makes for some good holiday reading so I decided to check out Mr. Mercedes when I was able to pick it up fairly cheaply and for the most part was entertained, even if not mind blown, as the book pits a former retired cop Bill Hodges against a killer named Brady Hartfield, the Mercedes killer, who wants to feel the same excitement that he gained from plowing through the crowd that led to the deaths of eight people and the wounding of fifteen others. This is the case that still haunts Hodges, and the one that got away.

King’s strength lies in his character and he really fleshes out both Hodges and Hartfield pretty well with promises of more to come in the sequels. His characters are engaging well developed with unique voices that must make for good listens on audiobooks. You get a look into the minds of both Hodges and Hartfield in this game of cat and mouse and it’s interesting to read about the two characters. Sometimes serial killer POVs often feel flat or one-dimensional but King writes it pretty well, making you hate Hartfield. And he does a solid job at Hodges too.

King manages to reference several other of his novels with It and Christine also being featured. There’s several pop culture references as well with Tarantino mentioned, but it doesn’t really detract from the story that much. Despite Hartfield being fairly well developed as a character he never really breaks the mold of a generic antagonist, right down to the fact where he lives in his mother’s basement. If we didn’t have the alternate points of view between him and the Detective we wouldn’t have perhaps got as an exciting ending as it was, even if it was a bit flawed at the same time and felt a tad rushed.

As always with King the pace is fast and once you get started it doesn’t slow down. I was flicking through the pages and of course the downside about finishing this book when I was abroad is that I didn’t have the next one on hand, so now have to hunt it down at some point in the near future, because for all its flaws Mr. Mercedes was certainly an interesting read and it should be fun to see where King takes it from here because as we all know he is capable of on his day writing some really good fiction. This may not rank up there with his best works ever, but at the same time it was still a fairly solid read that fans of King and thriller fiction will enjoy.

VERDICT: 7/10

 

 

 

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One comment

  1. I agree, his recent work lacks a certain edge, but I approached this differently because it was a thriller/mystery, and not a horror story. It lacked something emotionally in the second half, and was a tad too easily resolved, but it made for an entertaining read.

    Liked by 1 person

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