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Title & Author: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Crime
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
While I consider myself a huge Stephen King fan, Mr. Mercedes was kind of a letdown. It seemed like a sort of mash-up of concepts from other King books and unrelated movies/tv shows/books. It felt like it had previously been done right from the beginning.
I didn’t read the synopsis before starting the book so I didn’t realize that Brady was already the known villain prior to starting. That said, he seemed like he would be the villain or that King was setting it up to make you think he was the bad guy from the moment he was introduced. (Too bad it was the former.)
One thing that annoyed me was when King referenced a couple of his works, via their movie counterparts, in Mr. Mercedes. On page 60 he referenced a movie about a Plymouth that drives itself (Christine) and on page 62 he referenced IT. While I really enjoyed [and was thoroughly creeped out by] IT, reading the references to these other King works took me out of the moment.
While there wasn’t really anything I could point to as “wrong” with this book, it just fell a bit flat for my tastes. I’d give it 2-2.5 stars if I rated things on that type of scale (maybe I should!). I prefer not knowing who the villain is up front and having to work alongside the protagonist to figure it all out.
Verdict: This was nowhere near my favorite Stephen King book. It was interesting to read but pretty average for me. Will I read the other two books in the Bill Hodges trilogy? Probably, but I’m not going to run right out to get them once they’re released. While it had some good moments, much for the book felt like reused pop culture references from other works.
Recommended for: die-hard Stephen King fans or total King newbies. Also, the formula kind of reminded me of Veronica Mars but with less sass and an older detective, so it might work for fans of that type of genre as well.