Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
Hodder & Stoughton (hardback), 2014
BLURB FROM THE COVER
A riveting cat and mouse suspense thriller about a retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies who race against time to stop a lone killer intent on blowing up thousands.
Retired homicide detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the few cases he has left open and by one in particular: in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of desperate unemployed people lined up for a spot at a job fair in the distressed Midwestern city where he worked. Without warning; a lone-driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. Eight people were killed, fifteen wounded. The killer escaped.
Months later, on the other side of the city, Bill Hodges gets a taunting letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on hunting him down.
Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he is preparing to kill again.
Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, must apprehend the killer in a high-stakes race against time. Because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.
April 9-10, 2009
Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that still ran well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of town, so he decided to take the last bus of the night. He got off at twenty past eleven with his pack on his back and his rolled-up sleeping bag under one arm. He thought he would be glad of the down-filled bag by three A.M. The night was misty and chill.
I thought Mr Mercedes was just okay. King offers a passable detective novel that is inferior compared to other novels he’s written. Mr Mercedes is quite predictable at times and I would hardly describe the exploits of Hodges and his motley crew a ‘riveting suspense thriller’. King makes it clear who the killer is from the start. Giving the villain a name and a face and a backstory from the start takes away a lot of the suspense. I hate it when a writer holds your hands and spells it all out for you like you’re an idiot. This bothers me. King holds your hand all the way through Mr Mercedes. He left nothing to the reader’s imagination. Mr Mercedes opens strong and I thought I was going to read something original. Unfortunately, Mr Mercedes descends into another run-of-the-mill detective novel. The novel would have been much more sinister if King hadn’t named Brady as the killer from the start. An unnamed, faceless monster would be more menacing. One of the best things about reading crime novels is wondering who the bad guy is. King robs the reader of this. As far as villains go, Brady is very predictable. He was abused and neglected by his alcoholic mother to the extent their relationship borders on incest and mummy dearest introduced him into murder at a young age by getting him involved in the murder of his brain-damaged younger brother. That sounds like a stereo-typical bad guy to me. Mr Mercedes does not take me by surprise except in the first few pages. King should take a leaf from Camilla Lackberg who knows how to be original and take the reader by surprise every time. I also didn’t care about any character in Mr Mercedes. What a let-down.