Yay!! Another book by Stephen King!! Mr Mercedes by Stephen King is a ripper of a book, an absolute ripper. In my humble opinion, all Stephen King books are good. Some are great. Some are excellent. As I already said, this one is an absolute ripper. Hurry up and read it so you too can have a headache all of the next day from staying up too late reading because you can’t wait to find out what happens.
Mr Mercedes is, unusually for Stephen King, a straight story. No magic, no fantasy, no unworldly creatures. The story is set in the present time in an ordinary American city and the characters are all normal (including the psychopaths, if psychopaths can be considered normal). This book could be described as a detective novel.
There are several heroes in this story, but the main good guy character is a retired police detective, Bill Hodges. When the story begins Bill is divorced, lonely, bored with retirement and, is almost casually considering suicide. Apparently a large number of men in Bill’s position do commit suicide.
When he retired, Bill handed over a few unresolved cases to his former partner. One case was the search for a mass murderer, a killer who ploughed through a crowd of job seekers in a stolen Mercedes, who became known as Mr Mercedes. Bill retains a high level of interest in these unresolved cases.
The bad guy, or Mr Mercedes, contacts Bill via email, using carefully crafted words to try to lure Bill into conversation, with the intention of goading him into suiciding. In Mr Mercedes’ email to Bill, he says he has no intention of carrying out another mass murder, but as it turns out he does.
Bill should have turned his email from Mr Mercedes over to the police in the very beginning of the story, but had he done that, there wouldn’t have been a story. Or if he had, the story would have been different, in that Bill couldn’t have been the good guy. Stephen King would have needed another character, still in the job, to have tried to stop Mr Mercedes from striking again.
Bill’s fellow heroes are a very clever boy who mows his lawns, a woman named Janey who Bill almost falls in love with and Janey’s cousin Holly, who has serious mental health issues. As a team, they have to try and work out who Mr Mercedes is and what he is planning to do. I won’t say if the good guys succeed in stopping Mr Mercedes or if Mr Mercedes lives to fight another day.
My only issue was the romance between Janey and Bill. Had she been another ten years older I would have believed it, but from a 44 year old woman’s point of view, overweight, 62 year old men are not that attractive. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Bill as a character, but I did not see him physically as a romantic lead.
The scariest part of this book is how ordinary Mr Mercedes presents himself as. He is a working, functioning human being who, as another character says, walks among us. Bad guys don’t have to be aliens or demons to be truly evil.
This book contains references to other Stephen King books, which I love. Recognising the references gives me a feeling of belonging, of knowing that I am a valued Constant Reader.
For those who have read this book, I Googled ‘Under Debbie’s Blue Umbrella’, and of course, it exists. Such is the power of Stephen King. I shouldn’t have logged on as Bill though, the fright I got served me right. Read the book and then do this yourself. I got chills all down my back.