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.
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