Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

June 25, 2014 Whitney Review 5 Comments

Book Review: Mr. MercedesMr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy #1
Published by Scribner on June 3, 2014
Genres: Thriller
Source: Library

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.

Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes is too big.  It is in hardcover, there are so many pages and is not very conducive while reading in bed.  My eyes start to get heavy as does the book in hand, having me waking up minutes later with Bill Hodges in my face.  Perhaps this is my fault, I saw it all nice and shiny on my library’s new shelf and I had to read it.  In the end, my goose egg was worth it.

Growing up I read the series Goosebumps, each chapter would end with something to the effect of  “The door creaked open slowly…”  and in the next chapter we would learn it was only a cat.  Even at the time I thought it was a little lame, but I still devoured every Goosebump R.L. Stine wrote.  Do not get me wrong, I am by no means comparing Mr. Mercedes to Cry of the Cat, but the suspense factor rings true.


He’s got control of himself again and this time his voice commands work.  He doesn’t waste time, just sits down in front of his Number Three and logs on to Debbie’s Blue Umbrella.  His Message to Hodges is brief and to the point.

I’m going to kill you
You won’t see me coming

pg 231

Stephen King’s writing is articulate and artful, and is brilliant when building suspense, and for a child of the 90s it is a grown-up Goosebumps.

Hodges reminded me of Walt Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood) in Gran Torino.  Throughout Gran Torino, Kowalski’s trademark mimed gun comes into play and is perceived as a silly old man but in reality defends those who are in need.  In Mr. Mercedes, Hodges is reminiscent of this when he stands up for a boy in the process of being mugged.  By most, these two men are given patronizing smiles, but I see them as two men who are still as sharp as a nail and are more than meets the eye.

For one more pop culture reference, I recently watched The Bodyguard, Rachel Marron is sent death threats and with her life in danger hires Frank, said Bodyguard and together they create bittersweet memories.  My point of bringing this up is that Rachel’s attempted assassin is a  cameraman, someone you would never look twice at.  Mr. Mercedes is very much like that, easily blending into the crowd unnoticed.

The reader quickly becomes aware of the identity of this merciless driver.  I really liked that we learned this right away, hearing all from the horse’s mouth rather than the telephone game.  I also think it is fair to mention that he has a very Norman Bates/Mother relationship with his own parent and kept waiting for the hobby of taxidermy to pop up.  In any event our hit and runner is devilishly clever.

My demerit is the fling between Bill and Janey.  Why did you have to mix business with pleasure Mr. King?  It felt unnecessary, and cheapened the plot.  I would have preferred a platonic work relationship.  After that, I felt like Bill was solving the case for Janey rather than his desire to solve an opened case, hanging like a carrot above his head.

Mr. Mercedes was creepy, but I found the ending line the creepiness of all.

“He says he has a headache.  And he’s asking for his mother.”

In comparison to the rest one may shake their head and say “what?”  I find it terrifying because it reminds me of the ending of the movie Psycho.  With Norman caught and his mother still ringing in his head, claims he wouldn’t even harm a fly.   My point is that some people are delusional enough to think they have done nothing wrong, in other words, a psychopath, and that reason alone kept me up late shivering with goosebumps.



5 responses to “Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

  1. I want to read this. Even though it's a big book and I'm not a huge fan of big books, I want to give this one a try. And I loved Goosebumps too. The good old times. 🙂

  2. This sounds really good though I think I'll definitely go with the Kindle version. I read a big hardback a few weeks ago and had forgotten how annoying the logistics of it could be!

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