Mr. Mercedes

Mr. MercedesMr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy #1
Publisher: Scribner
Released: June 3, 2014
Pages: 437
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#1 New York Times bestseller! In a high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands. “Mr. Mercedes is a rich, resonant, exceptionally readable accomplishment by a man who can write in whatever genre he chooses” (The Washington Post).

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, 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 Hartsfield 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 two new, unusual 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.

As they have tended to be for Stephen King books, my expectations were high for this one, especially since the reviews of it have been so favourable. My expectations were almost met, but not quite.
Mr. Mercedes is, of course, a great story. It’s dramatic enough from the start to be instantly interesting, and it makes it clear from the outset that this is one of those books where “that couldn’t possible happen”-things can actually happen, which is crucial for a book like this to work. It’s also refreshingly unpredictable, and I never knew where it was going. This wasn’t down to sudden twists and unexpected turns, but rather the compounded effect of a story where both the events and the characters are original enough for me to lose my general sense of “I’ve seen this kind of thing before” gut-feeling about what is going to happen. The characters are well-developed enough for their actions not to feel out of place, and likeable enough (when they need to be) for me as a reader to care about what happens to them.

That said, I felt that the book as a whole lacked some intensity. The fact that some sections of it were real page-turners made me all the more aware that other sections weren’t. It never got boring, but at times it felt a little too much like I was reading a set-up to a future event rather than something that was written for its own sake. I think I’ve used the phrase “a great story told well” in reviews of Stephen King books before, but this time, for the first time, I feel like this was a great story that perhaps could have been told a little better.
Still, Mr. Mercedes was a really fun, worthwhile read, and delivers more or less exactly what one would expect from a Stephen King story with a blood-soaked umbrella on the cover.

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