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.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
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!
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
COLLEGE WAS FOR PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T KNOW THEY WERE SMART
Besides building characters we care about King, brings it home by using modern day descriptions. King is a genius, but he has such a way of making people believe he is just a regular Joe. I found it fascinating that he even has the same taste in the news as I do. For instance I have watched NBC news all my life, but when Brian Williams was on, I got so disgusted I moved to CBS to watch Scott Pelley. That was before Williams got caught lying. King has a unique was of describing people such as: SHE LOOKED LIKE PRINCES LEIA ON THE KAREN CARPENTER DIET. As much as King is loved, I honestly believe he is under appreciated.
DON'T OVER BUTTER THE MUFFIN
Having said all that, this is a lot different than most King books. It is King's entry into detective fiction. As other reviewers have mentioned the investigation is not that tight. While I loved being able to see the investigation from the bad guy's view as well as the good guy's, this did not have the twists or surprises that you get with a good mystery book. One time I was surprised with what happened to the bad guy's mother, but other than that it was all predictable. I loved the writing enough for five stars, but to stay in this field, and this is the first of a trilogy, King needs more twists and surprises.
Will Patton is one reason I chose this book. I am always on the LOOKOUT for books narrated by Patton.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
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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“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..."
Spellbinding tale of a man who has learned to feel through killing. He finds excitement and fulfillment in driving a stolen Mercedes into a large crowd of job-seekers at a job fair, killing many including a baby and then sets up a terrible scheme to torture the woman from whom the Mercedes was stolen. He drives an ice cream truck and daily ponders how he could poison all the ice cream at once and kill all the children who bring him their coins looking for treats. And this is only in the beginning...
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.
It is very sad, since Will Patton is such a good narrator. I loved Doctor Sleep in large part because of his narration.
Before you just disregard this, let me say that I have been a huge King fan for a long time, with notable exceptions like Under the Dome and Mile 81. And I'm not just looking for supernatural accoutrements. I thought Joyland was good, in spite of the lukewarm narration, and I really enjoyed the Colorado Kid.
But this story is just weak. It has the feel of one of Dean Koontz's formulaic madman with sexual fetish stories. Pretty much straight down the check list:
* Homicidal Maniac (check)
* Maniac has strange sexual fetish (check)
* Tough guy hero (check)
* Damsel in distress (check)
* Unlikely love interest develops between tough guy and damsel (check)
* Some supernatural or paranormal aspect (hmm, only thing missing)
I still think Koontz was the ghost writer for this one...
I can't recommend it.
Hopefully he put more effort in to the upcoming book Revival.
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.
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