One of the main reasons I read enough to write book reviews is because of Stephen King. He was my gateway drug into literature and is still one of my all-time favorite authors. Horror is a very niche genre, and it isn’t for everyone. King is synonymous with the horror genre. His influenced doesn’t stop within the macabre. King recently penned a trilogy following retired detective Bill Hodges; it is his love letter to the crime genre. Mr. Mercedes introduces us to a new batch of memorable King characters. King steps out of his world inhabited by haunted mansions and killer Plymouth to deliver a masterful cat and mouse story.
Mr. Mercedes is the first installment in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and it doesn’t waste any time in establishing terror and dread within the reader. Economic hardship forces a massive cluster of job seekers to wait outside the city center for potential employment. Headlights shine on the crowd, and a crazed motorist drives a Mercedes at full speed into the crowd, killing eight people and injuring several others.
Next, we flash forward in time to see Bill Hodges retired from the police force and completely without direction. He even contemplates suicide as a method of escape. He receives an unmarked letter that details the gruesome events of the city center massacre, and the writer admits to loving his actions as the perpetrator. Hodges is given a spark to his life by the letter, and it leads the old retired veteran into a dangerous game with the sadistic Mercedes killer.
Stephen King hits another home run. Mr. Mercedes is a wonderful crime thriller with memorable characters, good and evil alike. King’s knack for memorable villains gives this an element many crime novels are missing. The book is familiar to fans of the genre, and it is familiar to fans of King as well. It doesn’t try to get too complicated, and it is an easy read. Bill Hodges is an interesting hero because of his age and status as a retired detective. Crime novels stars are usually great detectives in peak physical shape, chase ruggedly attractive, and resourceful. Hodges is overweight, past his prime, and is chasing someone he failed to catch as a detective. This makes the hunt much more intense and engaging as we can relate to our hero. He must use his smarts and experience to catch the cocky killer.
King opens up this trilogy with a bang. This novel ranks as one of his best, and that’s saying a lot considering his vast bibliography. King is held to a high standard because of books like The Stand, The Dark Tower, and The Shining.