After spending several months on the hold list through my local library’s OverDrive, my chance with Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes finally came up. With papers and a new job taking up much of my time, I almost didn’t get to finish it before my checkout ended. Because I was running out of time, I spent two days buried under my blankets with it and boy was that a ride!
I’ve been a Stephen King fan since sixth grade, when my father let me borrow his copy of Salem’s Lot. The most recent book of his I read was the final book in The Dark Tower, and I was less than impressed with it: The Dark Tower felt largely forced to me, and was such a dragging bore that it took me several months to finally get through it — which I found to be extremely disappointing. That said, Mr. Mercedes was a nice reminder as to why I love King as a writer: his passion for his craft bleeds through the pages of this book.
Mr. Mercedes is the first book in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy, and it is by far among the best books that I’ve read as of late. Set in the Midwest, which was a nice change for King’s books, Mr. Mercedes begins with a crime against the poor. A group of unemployed jobseekers lined up outside in hopes of landing employment are mowed down by a deranged man behind the wheel of a Mercedes. In the aftermath, he escapes, leaving behind eight dead and several more wounded. Among the dead are a mother and her infant child. Detective Bill Hodges later retires, with no success at discovering who was responsible for the murder. The killer, dubbed Mr. Mercedes, isn’t done though; and so, King takes readers on a wild race against time in a desperate attempt to keep the killer from completing his next act of domestic terrorism.
King has a penchant for creating characters that range from the truly good to the entirely depraved, and he has a knack for writing them in a manner so thorough as to leave the reader disgusted. In Mr. Mercedes, I was thrilled to find myself once again encountering a character whose point of view was utterly revolting. Brady Hartsfield is a character I loved to hate, and King does an excellent job of writing from his point-of-view. In complete contrast, Bill Hodges and his team of unqualified partners are good, upstanding (for the most part) citizens that sate the need for a “hero” with little to be left for wanting.
One of the things King does well in his books is foreshadowing, and Mr. Mercedes is no exception. When something bad is going to happen, King says so: only things don’t happen the way you expect them to. In Mr. Mercedes, this creates a constant feeling of dread, a constant expectation that certain things will, undoubtedly, happen, and that it is only a matter of when and how. Every page is filled with anticipation of the next big event, some of which bring utter horror while others brought with them tears.
Needless to say, I don’t really have any complaints about this read; it was worth the wait. Now, I just have to wait for my turn with Finders Keepers. I’m excited to see how this trilogy continues!