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Mr. Mercedes: A Novel (1) (The Bill Hodges Trilogy) Hardcover – June 3, 2014
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"Classic Stephen King. Creepy, yet realistic characters that get under your skin and stay there, a compelling story that twists and turns at breakneck speed, and delightful prose that, once again, proves that one of America’s greatest natural storytellers is also one of its finest writers.", Associated Press
"On one level, Mr. Mercedes is an expertly crafted example of the classic race-against-the-clock thriller. On another, it is a novel of depth and character enriched throughout by the grace notes King provides in such seemingly effortless profusion. It is a rich, resonant, exceptionally readable accomplishment by a man who can write in whatever genre he chooses.", Washington Post
“Think of Mr. Mercedes as an AC/DC song: uncluttered, chugging with momentum, and a lot harder to pull off than it looks. . . . King has written a hot rod of a novel,perfect for a few summer days at the pool. Mercedes-Benz commands drivers to demand ‘the best or nothing.’ In pop-fiction terms, that motto still applies to Stephen King, too. With apologies to AC/DC, the highway to hell never felt so fun.”, Christian Science Monitor
“A taut, suspenseful race-against-time book . . . [King is] in reliably fine form.”, The New York Times
"A taut, calibrated thriller . . . The majority of the book is merciless and unforgiving, and the scariest thing about it is how plausible the whole scenario is.", Miami Herald
“The nerve-shredding denouement is vintage King—a pulse-pounding race against time . . .”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A full-throttle sprint to the finish; the last 80 pages cannot be doled out over multiple reading sessions. You'll have to swallow them all in a single gulp.”, Sarasota Herald Tribune
“A literary Van de Graaff generator: tightly paced and parsed with dynamic dialogue and traumatic twists.”, Columbus Dispatch
“An oh-so-dark mystery that never shuts the door on love, loss and, possibly, redemption.”, Cleveland Plain Dealer
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As the story unwinds after the climactic events, my emotions surprised me. I've cried while reading books before, but not while reading the words of a bureaucratic proclamation!
The overarching theme of the series, first shown early in "Mr. Mercedes," is suicide, both the tragedy of it and some people's fascination with it.
In this thriller, Det. Ret. (Detective, Retired) K. William Hodges frequently has suicide on his mind. His life doesn't seem to have much purposes since his retirement, he doesn't often see his old friends, and is largely estranged from his daughter. On top of that, several cases, still open when he left the police force, still weigh on him, especially the case of a man who plowed a Mercedes into a job fair crowd, killing eight and wounding many more.
Then, he receives a letter in the mail from the Mercedes Killer, bragging about the mass murder and taunting him. What ensues is as much a psychological battle as a mystery as Hodges pursues the killer, often breaking the law to do so.
This story is filled with well-rounded characters, complex motivations, and action. It's a powerful start to a fantastic trilogy.
Oh, and I also discovered after finishing the trilogy that there is a "Mr. Mercedes" television series I had no idea existed. With the first season out, I need to figure out where to see it, so I can binge watch it as soon as possible. The pictures of the cast even look close to how I imagined the characters.
Top international reviews
I saved Mr Mercedes for my annual vacation (sorry to make you jealous, but I'm writing this review on my iPad, on the sundeck of the cruise ship Azura, just off the coast of Italy, while listening to Haydn’s Symphony 103 on my iPod).
I romped through Mr Mercedes in just a couple of days or so, pulled along by King's easy style – the thing I've always most admired about his writing is that it is so immersive; the words fade away in your mind and it becomes like watching a film.
The book is a cat-and-mouse story; one where it's often difficult to tell who is the cat and who is the mouse. Retired detective Kermit William Hodges (thankfully known as Bill to his friends) passes time by watching TV and gaining weight, until a letter arrives from the perpetrator of an unsolved crime, goading him back into life.
Brady Hartsfield is a man without conscience; he takes enjoyment from inflicting misery and has a somewhat unhealthy relationship with his mother. It's often said that believable villains can't be 'all bad' but there's very little to redeem Brady. And Hodges is his latest target – but far from the biggest one in his sights.
As ever, King creates characters which are as believable as the person next to you. The pace of the book is almost unrelenting – there are several natural pauses as characters develop their relationships – and the plot twists in a way that real life does. Only one event I felt was foreshadowed too clearly; I won't spoil it for you but I think you'll know which one I mean, once you reach it.
Hodges becomes our friend; his good nature balanced by the ability to be tough when the going demands it. The insight into his thought processes, as he tracks the letter's writer, is as enjoyable as the plot. Brady's mind works in a different way and he's the counterbalance to Hodge's morality – outwardly so ordinary that he's forgettable, but inwardly as dark as anyone King has created.
I've heard people say that they 'prefer classic King' but I have to say that I really like the way that his writing has evolved. I recently re-read The Shining and found it less satisfying (in terms of writing style) than his later work.
It's true, this is less horror than we're used to with King's earlier works; there's nothing supernatural here – just the perverse nature of the human race. But this book is no poorer for that. There are some enjoyable name-checks of King's other work to look out for along the way, too.
This is yet another great book from Stephen King. Thoroughly enjoyable, it's definitely one that you won't want to put down until you're done – and when you are, you'll wish it wasn't over.
I have no idea why, and as a result, there are now many of his books that I haven't read. This something I intend to rectify.
Mr Mercedes is the first book in a trilogy. I saw it recommended in a book group I'm in, so decided to start here!
I loved this book and read it in record time. It is not King's typical horror story. It's a detective thriller focused on retired cop Bill Hodges. I
Retirement isn't suiting Bill, he misses being a cop, and doesn't really feel like his life has much point anymore. Then one day he receives a letter in the mail. The letter is from Me Mercedes, the case he never got to solve.
I loved this book, and cannot wait to read the other two books in this trilogy.
So yes, I'm glad I read it but I wouldn't say it was 'un-putdownable'. I quite happily read a few chapters, put it down for a week or so then carried on with it again. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I think it would make an excellent film to be honest. (Tip : Its well worth visiting Debbie's Blue Umbrella and the site that shows the basement set up ... very clever!)
Confirmed by Stephen King as the first of a trilogy the story moves along at a good pace, filled with characters that come to life in the usual SK way. Our hero is a retired police officer who is contemplating suicide due to the sheer banality of retirement. Daytime tv just doesn't cut the mustard. Then, one morning, he receives a letter concerning a crime of murder that our hero had failed to solve whilst still on the force and in charge of the investigation. The weakest character for me was Janelle Patterson who comes across as a thinly disguised Sadie from 11.22.63.
What follows is a good old fashioned detective story, the only ghosts being memories of the original crime and investigation, the only monster being the murderer who is totally human with no demon powers whatsoever.
A great tale from the modern day master storyteller. No horror, no supernatural phenomenon, just straightforward detective fiction.
I find Stephen King’s writing SO readable.
Surprisingly, no supernatural thread to this, the first of King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy. But still edge-of-the seat reading nevertheless.
One very happy constant reader here.
He writes “evil” really well, which is what makes his good guys seem so good.
A definite 4 stars for me. Was jarred by the present tense narrative at first but I got used to it.
More importantly, he kept to writing in the third person, which gave an air of suspense to every sentence.
Good plot. Well written. Good characters.
He was kickstarted into taking the case more seriously after he received a letter from the alleged perpetrator, threatening to do the same again. It then becomes a race against time as he reexamines every aspect of the case to prevent a reoccurrence of the original incident.
It's a good read. It rattles along at a good rate, and delivers a pleasing finale. It won't ever win a Nobel Prize for Literature, but I don't think King was expecting it to anyway.
I read this with my heart in my mouth - wanting to shout out "watch out he's behind you!"
Not Stephen Kings usual horror tale but a well crafted plot that reels you in. I loved the 3 main characters, Hodges, Jerome and latterly Holly - they were a curious team but worked so well together - looking forward to Finders Keepers to see where the go next! The bad guy Brady is one awful character and I despised him completely.
This book is well worth the read and I'd certainly recommend it to all!
In my opinion it seems Mr King has morphed from writing straightforward, yet still terrifying, horror to creating horrifying characters because this wasn't supernatural in any way, unlike many of his previous books. Yet he still scared my socks off with the story of an insane mummy's boy who carried out one awful mass killing and planned another. An unlikely bunch of people set out to try to stop him, including a fat retired cop, a black teenager who was planning on going to one of the Ivy League Universities and a mentally ill, emotionally stunted woman in her forties, as well as a loved one lost along the way.
Worth investing the time in and I'd certainly describe it as a page turner.