Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
Published 2015 by Hodder
My copy: Paperback
A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is tormented by ‘the Mercedes massacre’, a case he never solved.
Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of that notorious crime, has sent Hodges a taunting letter. Now he’s preparing to kill again.
Each starts to close in on the other in a mega-stakes race against time.
I haven’t read a Stephen King book for many years, but I was aware that he’d recently written a trilogy that seemed generally well-liked, so I chose the first book of the three for my August book group. The book is a kind of cat-and-mouse style chase between retired ex-cop Hodges and sick killer Brady. While Hodges was still working, Brady drove a stolen car into a crowd of people, killing eight of them. The case was never solved, but now he’s sent a menacing letter to Hodges, leaving the retired cop to think that Brady – dubbed the Mercedes Killer – is poised to strike again…
Both of the characters are introduced very early on in the novel, and we slowly build a picture of them. Hodges is retired, bored, and rapidly gaining weight, while Brady is elusive, weird – and basically a sicko! His relationship with his mother is truly disturbing.
I found the book very readable, but I wasn’t sure that I really liked it that much, if that makes sense! I think it is cleverly written, with the story developing well and the tension building nicely. But I didn’t really like any of the characters and it just felt dated and full of stereotypes, and the two main characters are both caricatures in the main. In some ways I liked that the characters were un-PC, as this of course reflects the real world, but I really could have done without Hodges perving at every blonde woman under the age of 50, and token black character Jerome’s street-talking alter-ego.
But despite this, I wanted to keep reading the story, and was intrigued to find out what would happen. I did expect it to be darker, and possibly a few more twists at the end would have been fitting, but overall I think I liked the book, without really liking it. which makes no sense at all! And I probably wouldn’t read any of the other books in the trilogy – at least not for a while!