Welcome to my review of the novel, Mr. Mercedes. Spoilers for those who haven’t read the book! Let us now proceed to the review.
This was my very first Stephen King novel that I have read. There is nothing paranormal to this book, Mr. Mercedes. Most of his books deal with ghosts, and all things paranormal, but it is not the case here. This is your ordinary, and old-fashioned crime/mystery/thriller with a lot of tropes that we all know and love. Where the maverick & eccentric detective who has to operate outside the confines of the law and stop the bloodthirsty & deceitful psychotic murder from carrying out his plans.
The book starts in a city (the name of the city was not specified), where a job fair is being held. A lot of unemployed people turned up when suddenly, a leek 12-cylinder Mercedes SL500 emerged from the fog and plows through the crowd of people, leaving 8 people dead and several injured from the incident. It is a one hell of a metaphor, a luxurious car who crushes and quell all those who are less fortunate and is a victim of poverty. The case was not solved and the killer/maniac got away with their crime.
A couple of years later, our protagonist, Bill Hodges, your typical retired detective who spends his remaining years watching crappy television shows, and he is overweight. It was heavily implied that our protagonist was contemplating suicide, as this was quite prominent in retired police officers because of all the things that they saw and experienced when they were working as police officers. One day, Hodges received a letter from the Mercedes killer. At this point, this became a battle of wit, who is more cunning. Each side trying to lure the other into their traps.
Another cool thing is that, Stephen King allows us to see/read the perspective of the killer/murderer. I found this very fascinating and very cool, to be able to know their thoughts, how their minds work, their methods & motives. The killer, by the way, was immediately revealed to be Brady Hartsfield, a 28-year old-young man, who works at an ice-cream truck, an IT worker and is secretly a psychotic maniac at the same time. I find an ice-cream man (who is secretly a psychopath) handing delicious soft serves to children very creepy and scary. Stephen King can be recognized and acknowledged as the grand master of horror fiction, he always reminds us that the everyday demons hiding behind the screen doors of small-town streets can chime with our deepest terrors just as effectively as the evil creature in the sewer. The real monsters that affects us are; mental illness, addiction, poverty, childhood trauma, & alienation. They hide under our beds and couches, they stalk the pages of the books that he wrote. King wrote Brady’s character as an unremarkable man with a fragile balance of mind. He truly represents evil, his story is similar to other troubled young American men who have opened fire in crowded schools or cinemas, as King peels back the layers to understand how a killer like Brady is formed: “The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.”.
Although this was not the usual Stephen King book, I quite enjoyed it. There were some clichéd moments, but I don’t think that this book is not an example of why people love his books and writings. This is actually not horror at all, although there were some dramatic moments, this is more like a crime novel. But this however is also not your typical crime novel. A regular crime thriller is where the perpetrator/culprit is withheld from you until the very end – this is not the case is this, because the culprit is immediately revealed (from what I remember, it was even revealed at the premise). It is more like a game of cat and mouse, you trying to figure out who will win/come out on top and how and at what price.
I rated the novel, “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King, 4 out of 5 stars.
I would recommend this book if you like a good mystery, crime thriller. There were a lot of exciting moments if you are into that. However, I do not recommend this book for those who want to join the bandwagon and read Stephen King’s novels. I would rather recommend other Stephen King novels rather than this one.