Title: Mr. Mercedes (#1 Bill Hodges Trilogy)
Author: Stephen King
Book procurement: Bought a copy from Exclusive Books – Clearwater Mall.
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.
So, I started this trilogy wrong. I read Finder’s Keepers which is the second novel in the Bill Hodges Trilogy. While you don’t have to read the first novel to delve into the second, it would be good to know what happened to Bill in the first book to understand him better in the second.
Also, I was better prepare to read a thriller rather than a horror. This trilogy is about a retired detective after all, so my expectations to be freaked out weren’t shattered. I got to enjoy the book from the get go.
Mr. Mercedes is the story of a man who plows a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of job-seekers, and the retired detective who decides he’s still useful enough to try figure out the who, and hopefully the why. Simple right? No. It is Stephen King after all so one can expect a lot of drama and many more thrills. Especially since the prologue is an entire chapter of getting to know the very crowd that ends up… dead. No it’s not a spoiler so don’t get all riled up.
The story is told from the perspective of both Bill Hodges and Mr. Mercedes himself, Brady Hartsfield. This gives insight into their minds and as the reader, I felt the unmistakable tension between the two minds. Of the cop on the brink of a breakdown who is thrown into an unsightly situation. Of the clearly crazy killer who is just too intelligent for his own good. That tension between them grows right through the novel until a very climatic (and stress inducing) end. Man I actually put the book down because I didn’t want to see that conclusion. Now that’s proper suspended disbelief.
“as if the cops expected the big gray sedan to start up by itself, like that old Plymouth in the horror movie,”
― Bill Hodges, Mr. Mercedes (Cheeky reference to Christine)
While Stephen King is no doubt a master of horror, he is just as brilliant at thrillers. The reason is simple, and I speak about it often when I review books by King: his characters are written to be real.
Bill Hodges is a retired detective. He’s old. He’s getting chubby. These little things attribute to his character and King writes him in such a believable way that it is easy to imagine him. To think as he does. To experience his life as though it were our own.
Brady is a unique character with his own issues including an alcoholic mother and a rather taboo relationship between them. He is also intelligent and knows how to fit into society. King captures him in such a way that I was getting paranoid. We don’t know who could be a ‘Brady’ in our daily lives… and that’s freaky.
Brady has seen them often when he’s driving the Mr Tastey truck. He waves to them and they wave back.
Everybody likes the ice cream man.
― Brady Hartfield, Mr. Mercedes
When King writes, even the environments come to life. Everything works together to build either the characters, the story or the tension. No word seems extraneous.
Also, one of the ways that King builds tension, which I also mention often, is his knack for foreshadowing. You know what’s coming up without it being a spoiler – and that adds tension to the building suspense.
When it comes to thrilling read, Mr. Mercedes rates itself up there with some of my favourites like Three by Ted Dekker and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Now I’m looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy. Because Stephen is King.
Without a head to stretch it, the red-lipped smile had become a sneer.
“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”
― Pete Huntley , Mr. Mercedes (Cheeky reference to IT)
Rating: A thrilling 4 out of 5
Did you notice that Bill Hodges and Brady Hartfield have the same initials? Just sayin’…
Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com