Not many things can successfully intervene my current binge on fantasy novels. One author that can, and always will, is Stephen King. Before reading anything that doesn’t contain a sprinkle of fantasy or a touch of the paranormal, I often get a shudder of scepticism, trying to convince myself last minute that I can always grab something else. But no – a varied reading list is as important as a varied diet. Picking up Mr Mercedes however, this shudder was notably absent, as I have learned to trust King unconditionally to delivering me a thrilling story. And Mr Mercedes is no exception.
This novel starts as luridly as all thrillers should, with a detailed account of a massacre. We’re then taken a little way into the future, where six-month retired detective Bill Hodges is practically moribund in his depression, wiling away the hours with couch-potato television and suicidal temptations. He then receives a letter from Mr. Mercedes, the killer from the start of the novel, whom Hodges had investigated fruitlessly before he retired. King’s original idea for this story had the letter finally convincing Hodges into killing himself. In the finished novel, the aim of the letter is the same, but Hodges is instead riled by the letter, and begins an off-the-books investigation.
Mr Mercedes gets even darker when we start reading from the murderer’s own point of view, and we are given a behind the scenes look at a true psycho who is frightfully real (an exceptionally created character on King’s part). We are all sick of seeing real people very similar to Brady Hartsfield (Mr. Mercedes) in the news, and in this book I felt I was actually observing the state of mind of one of these psychopaths. Because of this terrifying realism and relevance to modern times, King shows that you don’t need ghosts and vampires to scare. There’s plenty of demons in the real world.
Before I leave you, I better mention that ‘Finders Keepers’ by Stephen King is out now. It is the second book in what is to be a Bill Hodges trilogy. We’ll be sure to bring you a review of it soon.
By D. C. Ward
Thanks for reading. If you have any other thoughts on Mr Mercedes, or perhaps Mr King in general, then let us know with a comment. If you liked this review and wished we offered more, as well as fictional pieces and writing tips, then you’ll be pleased to know this website is not just a dedicated to one Stephen King thriller, it in fact has several pages with differing content! I know right, the internet… wow. Anyway, we have plenty more reviews, such as Patrick Rothfuss’ epic fantasy ‘The Name of the Wind’ and Mark Lawrence’s ‘Broken Empire Trilogy’.
We also have our own fiction. Why not try our serialised mafia thriller ‘The Bleak Streets of Carrada’ or our horror short story ‘Guilty’? And if you’re an aspiring writer, we have a few articles that might help you write effective dialogue or organise your editing process.