Summary courtesy of 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.
FINALLY I’ve read me some Stephen King! It has been a long time coming. I’ve always said I’ll read Stephen King but just never got round to it.
My friend and my only bookish friend is a massive Stephen King fan. The first book she recommended to me The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon because it isn’t scary. I started it but I wasn’t in a mood for it, so I didn’t continue, but I think I will return to it (at some point). My friend’s influence is the only reason why I have started reading the legendary king of horror and suspense. When I asked her what are her favourites, she mentioned The Running Man and I said ‘oh is that similar to the Hunger Games?’ You can imagine how offended she was, no scratch that, she was actually insulted. It was funny.
It took me quite a long time to finish this. We all know what a greater writer King is and I do love me a good thriller, but unfortunately I don’t think Mr Mercedes is in line as some of his best work. The book trailer is actually more interesting than the book itself.
The story begins with a prologue, where unemployed jobseekers attend a job fair at the City Center at early dawn, but then a grey Mercedes drives through the crowd running over innocent people, resulting in the deaths of eight people and fifteen injured. The killer escapes. Fast forward one year later, our main character is a retired detective Bill Hodges, who is overweight, depressed, eating junk food and contemplating on killing himself. He receives a letter in the post from the Mercedes killer himself taunting him on a case he never solved. When the Mercedes killer sent this letter, his intention was to taunt Hodges even more to kill himself, however it created the opposite effect. It has given Hodges a purpose to live and catch the killer.
Not only do we get to read the third person PoV of Bill Hodges, but we also sort of get into the mind-set of a killer, Brady Hartsfield. This should have been interesting but he was not what I was expecting. He is a sociopath and clearly has had a fucked up childhood. I think King wanted to create a character you’d feel sympathy for and his childhood probably did contribute to his actions. In terms of character development, Bill and the rest of the secondary characters were one-dimensional and unmemorable. So funny enough, I think Brady was only character who was well developed.
Highlight to reveal spoilers, if you have already read it:
When Brady attempted to kill Jerome’s dog Odell with poisoned burger, which backfired and he ended up killing his mother instead. I thought ha, that’s what you get for trying to kill someone’s dog! I’m glad Odell didn’t die. That would have been tragic.
The summary tells you what you need to know. It is a cat and mouse game because we know who the killer is. The killer knows who Hodges is but Hodges does not know who the killer is. There is no mystery and nothing for the reader to figure out. Personally, I love figuring things out, like a ‘whodunnit?’ scenario because it gets me excited about a book and I love plot twists that blow your mind. As there was no mystery, it was a bit disappointing because I thought this would be that kind of book.
The last quarter of the book was pretty good (mostly because I’m so close to finishing the book). It jumps in between PoVs with Brady planning his ultimate attack and Hodges, along with his two unlikely allies figuring it out. I keep thinking ‘what’s going to happen? Is Brady going to succeed?’ This is my first Stephen King novel, so I don’t know whether this will be a tragic ending, a happy ending or a ending that is open to the reader’s own interpretation.
In the beginning, I thought I was on to a 4 star rating because for most thrillers I’ve read in the past, I tend to rate it a 4 stars. After reflecting on finishing the book, I found that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I mean I guess I liked it, but at the same time, sort of meh. It wasn’t bad; it was just all right I suppose. Whilst reading this, it just felt like something was missing. Like I’ve said, not King’s best work but props to King for writing his first crime/thriller novel. It’s good to write something new other than horror. I plan on reading his classics, such as the terrifying Shining, IT and Misery because these books are considered to be King’s best work, which I definitely won’t be reading at night!
If you enjoy crime and cat and mouse-esque books, then you should definitely check out Mr Mercedes.