Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes is a frightening trip into the mind of madness. With a taste of Robert Bloch’s Psycho and picking up on the current trend of mass murder King tells a tale that is all too close to reality. The characters are so fully developed you could pass them on the street and nod hello because they are familiar. As the bad guy plots his murderous adventures the good guys team up to discover his identity and stop him before he can kill again. A rather unlikely but easy to like group I found myself rooting for them all the way.
As a crowd of desperate job seekers line up before daylight for a chance at employment a lone Mercedes races across the parking lot flinging bodies out of its path, grinding others beneath its powerful wheels. In moments the dead and injured are sprawled about, their cries and moans filling the air. Who would commit such a horrible crime and why?
Brady Hartfield is his mother’s “honeyboy”. But he is also a very disturbed young man, albeit a very intelligent young man. After stealing the gray Mercedes of a wealthy Olivia Trelawney, Brady drives the heavy vehicle into the crowd of unsuspecting job seekers killing eight people and injuring fifteen more. He then disappears into the pre-dawn light leaving to torn bodies in his wake.
Months later retired police detective Bill Hodges cannot let go of his failure to solve the case. Depressed by his divorce and the emptiness of retirement Hodges spends his days watching TV and contemplating suicide. However a taunting letter from Mr. Mercedes captures his attention and before long he is drawn back into the investigation unofficially and off the grid. As Brady continues to taunt him Bill struggles to put together clues using skills he’d used as a detective. Soon he is joined by others who are also pulled into the search for the killer before more blood is spilled.
King has pulled off a real gritty detective novel with only a few weaknesses. A somewhat unbelievable romance pops up mid-story but in the end it plays out effectively. Mr. Mercedes is well worth reading and King even gets in a nod to son and fellow writer Joe Hill with the mention of one of his characters. Curiously enough even though it is not a “horror” story I did have a sleepless night. Sometimes the real monsters are the ones you just might meet at Best Buy. And that is really scary.
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