Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King Bill Hodges is a retired police detective. He lives alone, existing primarily on convenience foods and television programs. He is overweight, unmotivated, lonely and feeling as if his life is truly over but for the fact that he is still breathing … a situation he plans to rectify soon. That’s when an unusual letter arrives from someone the police named “the Mercedes Killer”. Even so many years after the incident (the incident being the forward of the book … so the reader is up to speed) the police are no further ahead in finding him. The letter is mocking Bill; comparing his life to any number of cliché television and movie plots about retired (and washed up) detectives. At first it seems Bill might shrug the letter off, but the more he reads through the letter the more convinced he becomes that it may have been sent by the actual Mercedes Killer. The Killer has invited Bill to “chat” on an anonymous internet site called “Under the Blue Umbrella”. This voice from the past gives Det. Ret. Hodges a reason to put the gun away for now. Although he knows he should go to the police with the information he has been given, he decides that he is going to look into this strange turn of events himself. So starts the cat and mouse game with “The Mercedes Killer”.

This book is as cliché as what the killer accuses Det. Hodges’ life of becoming. But in the case of the book there is no need to put it out of its misery – it’s cliché in a good way. It is reminiscent of the old time detective/suspense novels, complete with the usual cast of characters; the young sidekick, the gorgeous love interest, the damaged unexpected helper, the psychotic killer (complete with mommy issues) and the ever present impending (yet unknown) doom. Mr. Mercedes also offers the necessary mix of dry/humorous/touching dialogue, the red herrings and that one heart-stopping moment that you really were not expecting.

Die-hard Stephen King fans – beware – there is nary an other-worldly element in this book. With the exception of one very peripheral character having what seems like a precognitive moment, if you’re looking for horror you will have to settle for the real-world, mess-with-your-mind kind in this book.

With one or two exceptions I always enjoy Mr. King’s books and Mr. Mercedes did not disappoint. So why not five stars? Quite frankly, I think he went on a few too many pages at the end. In my humble opinion, Mr. King has a little trouble with endings. Still a good read.