“Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King

Star Rating: 3 and a 1/2 out of 5 Stars ☆☆☆ ½ 


Synopsis:  Retired Homicide Detective Bill Hodges is growing weary of his retirement.  He sits around his home all day eating and watching terrible daytime television.  He’s gained more than twenty pounds, and he’s growing more depressed by the day.  He carries his father’s .38 caliber revolver, cradling it, and even randomly putting the gun in his mouth “just to feel the metal”.

He’s left three major cases open when he retired.  A serial rapist named Turnpike Joe, the killer of a young woman, and a killer of many in a crowd of people at a job fair.  The job fair killer was dubbed “Mr. Mercedes”,  as he used a Mercedes Benz vehicle to run over a large group of people waiting outside in line for a job fair.  These cases have not been solved.

It is during one of these tedious afternoons, watching daytime television and tasting metal, that Hodges receives a package in the mail.  It is a letter from the Mercedes killer.  The letter is of a taunting nature, willing Hodges to commit suicide and bragging about his crime.  The killer seems to know exactly how Hodges has been spending his days. He even knows about the .38 caliber gun Hodges has been acquainting himself with.

The letter ends up having the opposite effect than what is desired, and Hodges decides he needs to get back on the case of the Mercedes killer, retired or not.  He will not rest until Mr. Mercedes is finally brought to justice.

Opinion:

Honestly, not King’s best work.  I am a big fan of Stephen King’s collected bodies of work.  Some of the greatest books of all time have been written by this genius of terror.  This book just doesn’t quite fit into that same category.

I did like it. I really did.  I thought it was a well-told story and certainly was quite interesting, but I also thought the villain was too predictable and almost a caricature of a person, instead of an actual person.  Mr. Mercedes himself fit more into “I’ve seen too many Law & Orders” than into a category of how a real killer would behave.  It simply didn’t ring true for me and I felt King just chose a stereotype without any research, analysis, or original thought when it came to this particular nemesis.  It disappointed me greatly.

The main character wasn’t very interesting either.  He seemed to be your every-day retired old man.  He didn’t have anything in his personality that stood out to me as interesting.  Certainly not interesting enough that I would want to follow him for an entire trilogy – which this is apparently going to be.  It’s like writing a book about your Great Uncle Paul that shows up to Thanksgiving, eats, makes small talk, and goes home.

I would have put the book down fairly early if it wasn’t for the secondary characters.  Jerome, Holly, Janey, and especially the mother of Mr. Mercedes, made the book gain it’s 3 1/2 star status.  If the book focused more on those people, it would have been much more interesting.  The mother of Mr. Mercedes was one of the most interesting, and certainly disturbing characters I’ve read in a long time. My interest was piqued.

I know this review is pretty scathing for a 3 1/2 star rating, but in all honesty, of course the storytelling was amazing.  It was the main characters that fell flat and killed the book.

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