Review: Mr. Mercedes


Mr. Mercedes
Mr. Mercedes (book #1 of 3)
By Stephen King
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476754451, 437pp.)

The Short of It:

The Girl (my daughter) asked, “Why is there a bloody umbrella and a tiny happy face on this cover?”

“Because it’s Stephen King,” I said.

But of course.

The Rest of It:

Mr. Mercedes is a departure from what we’ve come to expect from King. Kind of. Sort of. Okay, maybe not. Stephen King himself is calling it his first hard-boiled detective story. It is that, but it’s got his signature KING stamp all over it and if you handed it to me without a name attached to it, I’d still be able to tell it’s King’s writing. For this, I am glad because I’ve really come to love King’s writing and his deft handling of the characters he develops.

The book opens with a Mercedes plowing into a crowd of people at a job fair. Eight people are killed and fifteen injured. The killer is never caught. Bill Hodges, the cop who tried to solve the case has since retired. He spends his days sacked out in his recliner, watching Jerry Springer. When he gets a letter from Mr. Mercedes himself, his first reaction is doubt but as the communication continues, he realizes that this is his chance to catch the one that got away. But he’s not in shape and he’s technically not a cop anymore which makes him the underdog. An adorable, lovable underdog who you can’t help cheering for.

King tells us who the killer is very early on. This is no secret and is shared in every blurb you’ll read, but what I love about giving us this info so early is that we get to spend time with  a true, twisted individual. Brady Hartsfield wears many hats. He’s a computer geek by day, going out on service calls to “fix” the computers that others have f’d up in some way but he’s also the Mr. Tastey ice cream guy, driving around the neighborhood handing you a cold one while thinking terrible thoughts about you. He has a super-special relationship with his mother which is classic King in my opinion. I’ll let you ponder that one.

As with most King books, included are a host of characters that you end up loving in some way. There’s plenty of action, especially towards the end and now that I know this is book one of a trilogy, the ending makes a little more sense. Overall, I really loved it but while talking to others, we all agreed that the ending was a little too easy and for that, I might shy away from giving it a perfect five stars but as a King fan, I felt like it had all of the required elements to satisfy me and it was fun to read. Especially fun to read with others.

This would be a good book for someone brand new to King. There’s no “woo woo” supernatural stuff going on. No clowns in sewers. Just good storytelling. I encourage you to pick up a copy and I cannot wait for book two, Finders Keepers to hit shelves early next year.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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30 Responses

  1. I love your answer to the girl. Sort of like: “because I’m the mom” LOL

    • True. So much easier than explaining what it’s all about. The umbrella and the happy face all play a role. 

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  2. Intrigued! Thanks Ti!

    • King’s writing doesn’t generate the warm fuzzies I get from your books, but reading King is like visiting the circus.  I am fascinated by the production aspect of it all. It’s a real show. 

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  3. Yeah this is good classic stuff here. My mom isn’t a huge King fan, but she LOVED this book, gave it five stars. King is a genius when it comes to creating characters (usually ones with serious flaws) that we fall in love with. And often he creates an unlikely but cohesive group all fighting for a common cause. Gives you the feels. It was pretty pat at the end (everything turns good for the flawed survivors?) but will come running back for segment two. May even have to rip open boxes at Costco again.

    • I hope the trilogy remains strong and doesn’t peter out towards the end.  I think Under the Dome starts again next week? Did you watch it last season. It’s different. Doesn’t really pull me in but I am going to give it a few more goes before I call it a day. 

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  4. I am not really a fan of King mostly because of that woo-woo stuff. But I did love The Green Mile and think he is a fabulous writer. Maybe I could try this one!

    • I prefer all the supernatural stuff. King really knows how to pluck a moment from your childhood and dangle it over you like a noose.  BUT, regardless… he is a rock star at telling a story and this was no exception. I bet you would enjoy this one. It’s much more straight forward and to the point than some of his other books. 

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  5. “There’s no “woo woo” supernatural stuff going on. No clowns in sewers. Just good storytelling.”

    Sold!

    • Ti, will disagree with me and don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this one, but I still will recommend 11/22/63 to new readers over this one even with a little bit of woo-woo.
      (OK the use of ‘woo woo’ is starting to sound really stupid.)

      • I was turned off by 11/22/63. I know I am totally in the minority on that one. The romance was forced down my throat, or so I felt and I really thought it was going to be more about the assassination than the romance. I went in with false expectations and it did me in. 

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    • I can’t wait for you to read it!

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  6. “deft handling of the characters” + “unlikely but cohesive group all fighting (Sandy)” = KING! Don’t forget “cheesy but catchy song lyrics”…
    and yes to “super-special relationship with his mother which is classic”

    A very fun read.

    • Yes! The song lyrics. I thought Mr. Tastey would have a catch-phrase of some sort but I didn’t notice any. 

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  7. I cannot wait to finish this one up! I adore his characterizations

  8. I just might have to go back to Stephen King and read this one…it truly sounds good! I can’t find the tiny smiley face!

  9. Yay! I was very excited about this one when it came out and then got scared off by a really negative review. (The reviewer made it seem like there was a lot of older, out of shape man-young hot woman action throughout.) We seem to have similar taste in King so I’m going to start this one asap!

    • Well, the “young” hot woman is like 40 something so it didn’t stick out for me in a bad way.  Yes!! Read it!! It was goooood. Good story and some really likable characters. 

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  10. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it –waiting for the audio.

  11. Hmm I don’t remember what happened at the end that makes more sense knowing it’s a trilogy. Can you email me?

  12. Loved this one! I thought it was classic King an really enjoyed it. I can’t wait for the next one – exciting! I loved when he would reference his other books in this one – he only did a few times, but I chuckled each time. I loved Hodges – how could I not? And Brady was beyond crazy – it was so interesting getting to know him and his twisted mind (King did a great job with this character). So glad you liked this one as well :)

    • Did you have any sympathy for Brady? I sort of did. What his mother did to him so early on was damaging or course, but he didn’t seem bat shit crazy to me. Did he to you? He seemed like he was an everyday Joe trying hard to be a killer. 

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  13. I almost skipped reading this review as I don’t think of myself as a King fan. Well, I’ve never read any King, but your review totally got me, especially the last paragraph about no clowns in the sewer. I hate clowns so that was the perfect thing to say. I am going to go get this book and introduce myself to Stephen King!

    • King is fascinated by the macabre but he’s a great storyteller, regardless of the subject. I think you are in for a treat. 

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  14. Hmm. I might even like this one! I do like King’s writing, but his books are really hit and miss with me.

  15. I know how much you were looking forward to this one – glad it lived up to expectations!

  16. I gotta read this book!!

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