In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.
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.
©2014 Stephen King (P)2014 Simon & Schuster
I have become a reader/listener of Stephen King again. I had moved away from his books because they became too creepy and outlandish for my taste. He has returned to the days of The Stand and I am loving it. I have read many reviews that dislike this transition because they don't terrify anymore. They are less horror and more thriller! Mr. Mercedes is no different. It is wonderful. It was tense when appropriate and he fleshed out his characters wonderfully. This is right in line with my opinion of Under the Dome but has a more satisfying ending.
This is not 11/22/63 which I feel is his crowning achievement with The Stand being a close second--but it is a headliner in the genre. If you want macabre this is not the book for you. If you want a thriller with a fast pace and an investment in characters I recommend Mr. Mercedes.
I don't love Stephen King. The last I listened of his was 11/22/63 because the reviews were so good and I loved it. Before that, I felt burned by a couple of his books because they just weren't very good. I love creepy and twisted, I just don't think that King is very consistent.
I took a chance on Mr Mercedes because I think Patton can do no wrong, I have an admitted voice-crush on him.
I lucked out, we all got lucky in this combo coming together because this is a GREAT audiobook.
The bad guy is perfectly sinister. He's young, and egotistical. His character is developed so well that I truly hated him. I didn't just fear what he would do next, I felt myself really hating him as a person, I'm tense just writing this about him.
The reluctant hero is always my favorite character in any book like this, and Hodges is perfect. Again, King was masterful in developing a depth of character that made me really feel like I knew him well. I cheered for him, and found myself talking outloud to him, offering unsolicited advice.
The action built in a perfect way. I wish I could describe it better, but the pace was just as it should be. To me, this was character driven, I cared because I cared about them and had that emotional connection, then the action and story were the perfect foil for them.
The ending was great. It wrapped in a way that did the characters justice, nothing was over-done, or unbelievable, it was genuine.
I loved and recommend this book.
A few must reads: Mr. Mercedes, Narrows Gate, Cop Town, Bomb Proof, Wayfaring Stranger, The Son (Nesbo), Dept Q series...
Somewhat ironically, I find King's best works do not involve any horror or other supernatural events. That would be the two novellas that were made into the movies, Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption... and now his latest work Mr Mercedes. This is not to take any thing away from his entire body of work. The Stand, Salem's Lot, Green Mile, Dumas Key are just a few of my favorites.
No one creates characters as believable and memorable as Stephen King. I suppose this is why I've never been able to put down any of his books, regardless of their horrific nature. Mr Mercedes is not horrific, but a wonderfully crafted police procedural. It is the story of a 62 year old retired cop struggling to come to grips with his life in retirement. An unsolved crime that ended with the death of 8 people by a masked motorist driving a Mercedes still bothers him, but it suddenly becomes something far more relevant when he receives a letter from the killer.
The killer has the retired detective in his crosshairs, but his letter backfires, resurrecting the true genius of once great detective. The story becomes a fast paced, cat and mouse thriller. I finished it in 24 hours from purchase!
Will Patton is as talented a reader as King is an author.
This is one of the best police procedurals I've ever read!
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
There was something unique about the publication of Stephen King's 2014 "Mr. Mercedes". There wasn't a whole lot of publicity when it came out. Teasers didn't show up on my Facebook and Twitter feed, as they had for King's 2013 charmer, "Joyland." There was an unfortunately coincidence that warranted the silence.
I purchased the Audible "Mr. Mercedes" without reading the Publisher's Summary, so I could enjoy the surprise of knowing I would almost certainly like it, since it was King - but not knowing the genre or story before I listened. Was it Sci-Fi, like "The Tommyknockers" (1987)? A coming-of-age story, like the 1982 novella, "The Body: Fall from Innocence", which was adapted into Rob Reiner's 1986 "Stand by Me"? Of was it horror/supernatural, like - well, most of his books?
"Mr. Mercedes" turned out to be fan fiction - a modern tribute to Dashiell Hammet's Sam Spade ("The Maltese Falcon" (1929) etc.) mixed in with the brilliant, quirky women who intrigue Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe ("The Big Sleep" (1939), etc.). There's also a hint of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch ("Blood Work", 1998").
King's making a nod to nearly a century of hard-boiled detective fiction, and it's a fedora wearing trip to ethically challenged but morally pure shamuses.
King introduces retired detective Bill Hodges, who is eating himself to death in his La-Z-Boy, but if that doesn't work, has a .38 at the ready. Hodges is pulled out of retirement by an unsolved mass murder. Hodges' Watson is a deep voiced 17 year old Jerome Robinson, a brilliant, fearless young man from the most all-American family ever who has an uncanny knack for filling in Hodges' thoughts and seeing danger.
Unfortunately. there were some plot holes big enough to drive a Mercedes - or maybe even a Hummer - through. I enjoyed the book - especially the dialogue - but King's usually a tighter writer. That's why the 3 on the story.
Now for the reason this book was probably rolled out with such little fanfare: Brady Hartsfield, King's imagined serial/mass killer. Hartsfield's sad lack of friends - he has just one, a co-worker who probably has no idea she is his only friend; his social awkwardness; his twisted sexuality; and his hatred of almost everyone, especially minorities, is eerily close to real life mass murderer Elliott Rodgers. Rodgers killed 6 people and injured 13 in Isla Vista, CA, on May 23, 2014, and then killed himself. Rodgers' "My Twisted Life" (2014) is essentially a 141-page suicide note, explaining why Rodgers was going to slaughter as many women as he could - and it isn't so far from what the fictional Hartsfield intended to do. "Mr. Mercedes" was released just 10 days later. It had to have been finished long before Rodgers' rampage - but the timing was truly unfortunate.
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There is something disturbingly familiar about the evil described in Mr. King’s latest work. The phenomena of school or workplace shootings typically carried out by the criminally insane…or in rare cases the just plain evil are so common they are frequently gone in just one news cycle. So it was an interesting twist for the weapon of choice for the nut bar in this book was a car. Mr. King writes crazy meets evil better than probably anyone writing today, and this is no exception. At its core this is a very well written, extremely well read police procedural, where a retired depressed cop gets his groove back by going after the monster he failed to catch when he was still working as a cop. The plot is a little untidy here or there but that’s completely forgiven when you look on the credible and comprehensive evil so brilliantly portrayed in this tale. The style is very cinematic and sure enough it’s already in the works for movie adaptation. The narrative grabs you by the throat and pulls you through the police work and madness at a blinding pace. It’s as good as any King book out there and better than quite a few. It touches on addiction and recovery without being dry and preachy but above all it describes in skin crawling detail the pathology of true evil. It poses the question is this insanity or evil? With ISIS beheading journalists on the nightly news are we even able to tell the difference any more. Buy this book…you will greatly enjoy the ride…but you may not sleep quite so well after you have read it.
So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” Stephen King
The SK Phenomenon...I love to read the reviews of ardent fans that jump in there immediately for King, almost hear the excitement in their words -- so I always hold off and just enjoy the opinions a few days before I put in my 2 cents (?the cents key?!). You'll find a review here to fit your own feelings for Mr. Mercedes. With an author like King, doesn't it come down to we "like him dammit! we really like him!" Most people even enjoy the King books they didn't particularly like. He releases a book and there is a communal feeling amongst readers of all genres, almost holiday-like. Even my sister, the PhD librarian, gets excited and comes down from her snooty literary stratosphere to read (and enjoy) Stephen King.
Mr. Mercedes is a section of newly paved road on King's journey into the realm of crime thrillers. One that proves his belief that monsters are real, and goes on to tell how those seeds are planted and nurtured into monstrously tortured and demented souls. Brady Hartsfield is that monster in full bloom, manipulated by a mother that is akin to a demented bonsai artist, twisting and clipping a little boy until he grows into the dark expression of her own evilness, who reasons he has a license to kill.
King captures and animates our Americana culture into a horribly fun mise en scène: gated mansions, bustling neighborhoods packed with kids running after ice cream trucks; codger-esque neighbors that think aliens walk amongst us and bake nasty ingredients in cookies just for sh__s and giggles; rich eccentric ladies with perfectly observed mannerisms; and behind lowered blinds, a lonely divorcée and retired detective ("ret det"), Bill Hodges, mourning his days of purpose, with a pistol in one hand and pop tart in the other. You can picture it -- like a Norman Rockwell painting/nightmare from the rich imagery King lays down. But before you can imagine chirping birds and dogs barking (or at least one dog that narrowly escapes a dish of special Hamburger Helper), the ice cream turns to you-know-what. King pits the young killer against Det. Hodges and another young teen on-the-verge-of-manhood. The detective recruits his Harvard-bound lawn boy ("don't call him boy") to help track down L'enfant terrible Mercedes. It's younger generation against younger generation with a veteran at the wheel.
Some of the biggest squirm-inducing moments come not from the heinous acts themselves (from baby slaughter to incest), but from the ease with which King makes you a voyeur...that smiley face / "ew gross" look that this author extorts out of his readers; he makes us all mutineers to ourselves. Plot-shmot...this is just top tier fun.
"There's a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin' like a toad..."
Mr. Mercedes follows retired detective Bill Hodges who never cracked the Mercedes killer case. Brady Hatfield (Mercedes killer) mowed down a group of waiting applicants at a Job Fair and got away with it. What ensues from that point is a pretty straightforward thriller albeit an enjoyable one. The story goes back and forth between the retired detective and the deranged serial killer showing the two paths getting closer and closer to converging into a last second stand off.
Even though Mr. Mercedes was entertaining I had major issues with a lot of the side characters. They were paper thin and offered nothing to the story. I wanted more of Hodges and Hatfield and less of the fluff. None of it felt believable or added it to the story. Can we really believe that a decorated retired detective would want the help of a minor? King took so many leaps of faith for Hodges to even get close to connecting the Mercedes Killer with Brady Hatfield that at several points I chuckled.
King has said this is the first book of a trilogy, but I don't see it. It feels like King wanted something in the line of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but this is not even close. A fun summer read but nothing more then that.
Addicted to Audible!
This book takes us back to the type Stephen King used to write. Its a fast paced thriller, not too far out or disgusting as some of his books have been. He is a master at character development, characters were all well crafted.I couldnt stop listening to this book and I think Will Patton did a great job reading it.I highly recommend- that if some of his books have been too far out for you- that you give this one a try. I think you will enjoy it!
Will Patton is imprinted on my brain as the voice of James Lee Burke. He does a fine job with Stephen King as well. But oh my, do I miss Frank Muller.
Like the Ice Cream Man (stop me when I'm passing by), all Stephen King's suspense novels are guaranteed to satisfy. I was given an advance copy of this Saturday and finished it Monday.
King stirs up a super-odd trio:
a mentally disabled, milquetoast mid-40s lady who still lives with her moma;
a rather boring, recently-retired, suicidal and alcoholic police detective in his mid-60s who failed to solve that last big case; and,
a 6'5" squeaky-clean, high school African-American kid.
As the story develops, they come together to rush against time to try saving the lives of 4,000 screaming teeny-boppers at a "Round Here" [see, One Direction] concert from the psychotic bomb plot of an Oedipal Ice Cream Man. The kid's mom and sister are in the crowd, adding to the tension.
Undeniably, King is still on his game, even without the supernatural to aid his story. The twists in the plot keep coming to build toward a concerto crescendo. This isn't a "character-driven" plodder that'll be taught in lit classes 100 years from now. With the King, the story rules and the characters are given enough that you care what happens.
King is and has been the master of creating the verisimilitude of evil in many forms in the genres of suspense, thriller and horror novels. This fits the first, but this is quite the mastery King has achieved in thriller and horror novels. While the antagonist here is quite creepy, King has painted much darker villains. This psycho isn't evil incarnate; his evil has a cause (probably not THE only cause) and, without revealing too much, it has something to do with an Oedipal aspect to the story, of which the details are so revolting that the reader-results should range from "rendered nauseous" to "released vomitus."
This is more of a modern-day suspense novel, which are churned out these days like rows of wind turbines, by much lesser talents and by some who have mastered the modern-day suspense more than has Stephen King. It's not Mr. King's strongest suit. While the bomb plot at a teeny-bopper concert hits REALLY close to home and the internet and car break-in aspects of the story were interesting, I had a difficult time suspending disbelief over the combination of the protagonist detective and his peculiar sidekicks.
This is a perfect beach read though: a rapid-paced suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until the end.
Actor Will Patton has become the go-to guy for blockbusters because of his super acting talent in the *performance of narration.* He is clear, crisp, low-key until the story calls for him to turn it up; he never overdoes a character and, with him, after a while of listening you just get lost in the story and forget about the narrator. To me, that is the ultimate ability for an audible narrator; isn't that why so many of us love Tom Hanks? You forget it's Tom Hanks after watching for a while and get lost in the movie. Same thing here.
In the genre, I give Mr. Mercedes 4 stars. It does not stand out as a 5 when compared to some of the supremely talented novelists who have mastered the art of suspense in a modern-day, non-supernatural setting. 5 stars for Will Patton.
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