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Mr. Mercedes: A Novel (The Bill Hodges Trilogy) Hardcover – June 3, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 7,250 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Bill Hodges Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

King’s interest in crime fiction was evident from his work for the Hard Case Crime imprint—The Colorado Kid (2005) and Joyland (2013)—but this is the most straight-up mystery-thriller of his career. Retired Detective Bill Hodges is overweight, directionless, and toying with the idea of ending it all when he receives a jeering letter from the Mercedes Killer, who ran down 23 people with a stolen car but evaded Hodges’ capture. With the help of a 17-year-old neighbor and one victim’s sister (who, in proper gumshoe style, Hodges quickly beds), Hodges begins to play cat-and-mouse with the killer through a chat site called Under Debbie’s Blue Umbrella. Hodges’ POV alternates with that of the troubled murderer, a Norman Bates–like ice-cream-truck driver named Brady Hartfield. Both Hodges and Hartfield make mistakes, big ones, leaving this a compelling, small-scale slugfest that plays out in cheery suburban settings. This exists outside of the usual Kingverse (Pennywise the Clown is referred to as fictive); add that to the atypical present-tense prose, and this feels pretty darn fresh. Big, smashing climax, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: No need to rev the engine here; this baby will rocket itself out of libraries with a loud squeal of the tires. --Daniel Kraus


"Pays off exuberantly . . . Surprising and invigorating." (The New York Times)

"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)

“No one can create a villain quite like King. . . . [A]ll the elements come together in a very public, potentially explosive finale (with a surprising post script). King fans may find themselves furiously turning pages long into the night.” (Seattle Times)

“Along book that doesn’t feel like one. King’s pacing is perfect here . . . [Y]ou should read Mr. Mercedes. You’ll be checking your automobile’s back seat for months, if not years.” (BookReporter.com)

“A fast-paced whodunit.” (Esquire)

“King excels in his disturbing portrait of Brady, a genuine monster in ordinary human form who gives new meaning to the phrase‘the banality of evil.” (Publisher's Weekly)

“The most straight-up mystery-thriller of [King’s] career…Pretty darn fresh.” (Booklist)

“Nicely dark, never predictable and altogether entertaining.” (Kirkus)

“King deftly takes elements of hard-boiled mysteries and puts a fresh spin on them.” (USA Today)

“A showdown between good and evil that characterizes the best of King's work, regardless of genre.” (Los Angeles Times)

“King may have left out the supernatural in Mr. Mercedes, but his gifts for creating thoroughly believable characters and thrumming suspense are in full play. He keeps raising the stakes and ratcheting up the violence, and just when you think everything is settled there's one spine-icing little turn on the very last page.” (Tampa Bay Times)

“King creates such vivid characters—people you can picture yourself drinking a beer with or inviting over for lunch. So when he puts them in great peril, and that includes Jerome’s family and pet dog and the Mercedes’ owner’s family, it’s a race against time . . .” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“Hartfield is sensitive, sympathetic and one of King’s most realistic characters. He is a lot like Norman Bates from Psycho, in the worst ways imaginable.You can add Hartfield to the list of great King villains, alongside the shape-shifting monster Pennywise from It and the hypnotic vampire Kurt Barlow from Salem’s Lot.” (Boston Herald)

“A fast-paced cat-and-mouse game between Hodges, the motley group of unlikely heroes that he assembles, and the Mercedes Killer.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“As always, Stephen King draws very real people and scenes straight out of life as we know it . . .” (Raleigh News & Observer)

“A trimmer-than-usual King, but that doesn't mean he skimps on the suspense and spine-tingling chills.” (People Magazine)

“With Mr.Mercedes, [King] demonstrates that he can still rock a pure genre novel like nobody’s business. . . . a thrilling example of King’s boundless imagination.” (Bookpage)

“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.” (Cemetery Dance)

“. . . barrels toward a memorable conclusion. King’s work has almost always gotten lost in translation on the big screen, but his tense, propulsive, ultra-fast-paced climax here seems like it was written with the movie in mind.” (Onion AV Club)

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Product Details

  • Series: The Bill Hodges Trilogy
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476754454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476754451
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7,250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you want aliens,cats that come back or creepy clowns,this is not the book for you. If you love well written King storys, it is. If you enjoyed Shawshank and Stand by Me ect., this book will make you happy. 11/22/63 was good, but still used the supernatural to move the story,here it's just people. I think King is at his best when he uses the characters that always feel real.

Enjoy a good story? Tired of the usual crap? Read this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this new and improved Stephen King 2.0. I am not going to rehash the publisher's summary or go too deep into the plot as some consider writing about ANY plot points as spoilers. There are no spoilers here, just my opinion of the type of readers that would enjoy Mr. Mercedes as much as I did.

In my opinion, there are three major buckets of Stephen King fans,

A) Readers that love his earlier works that featured densely written supernatural stories that kindled the type of mental terrorism that innovated the genre. Novels that are deep in character and plot line development to the point they easily reach the level of an 800+ page epic. (See: The Stand)

B) Readers that love his lighter works that loan themselves to the psychological thrillers of the physical and mortal world that are so terrorizing, they wish it was due to a supernatural entity. Novels that don't have as much depth (relatively speaking) or number of characters, but still great reads. (See: Misery)

C) Readers who just enjoy to be entertained and terrorized by the master of horror, regardless of the believability of the plot's premise or source of the fear.

For the hardcore fans that reside in segment A, I think they will feel Mr. Mercedes is a well written novel, but a rare miss by the author they have grown to love. That would be an unfortunate mis-characterization if readers think Mr. Mercedes is a miss due to the lack of page turning details developing voluminous characters and minuscule details of their surroundings. The development of the main characters in Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
King negates a heavy hand for an authentic, subtly crafted story. Mr. Mercedes offers dual perspective, enabling a more interesting plot development for King's group of unlikely heroes. A fascinating adventure!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Like the Ice Cream Man's (stop me when I'm passing by), all Stephen King novels are guaranteed to satisfy.

In MR. MERCEDES, King serves up a super-odd, Neapolitan triple scoop: an emotionally-disabled, milquetoast mid-40s lady who still lives with moma; a 6'5" African-American high school kid; and, the main protagonist Bill Hodges, a rather boring, recently-retired and divorced police detective in his mid-60s who failed to solve that last big case (of a Mercedes running over and killing 8 people, including an infant, waiting in line at a job fair).

The novel begins with Hodges parked on his recliner, suffering through the honks of Dr. Phil and drowning his sorrows in a bottle, while occasionally gazing into the end of a loaded revolver's barrel. In the day's mail comes a letter from a guy claiming to be the Mercedes killer, mocking Hodges for his failed efforts to find him. Without providing too many details, the best description I can find for Mr. Mercedes is a psychotic and Oedipal Ice Cream Man bent on toying with Hodges, whom he refers to as "the Det Ret."

As the plot develops, the mismatched trio eventually merge in a rush against time to try saving 4,000 screaming teeny-boppers at a "Round Here" [see, One Direction] concert from the psychotic bomb plot of Mr. Mercedes. Adding to the tension, the kid's mom and sister are in the crowd.

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 driving the story are sketched with enough detail that you are drawn into the narrative and care what happens.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Stephen King is my favorite author bar none. This is not one of his better works in my opinion. The protagonist is shallow and unnecessarily reckless, endangering the lives of those around him for no good reason. The technical details are full of errors that are atypical of Mr King's other works. ( The Mercedes SL-500 has a V8 engine, not a V12. That's the SL-600).

The plot has no surprises and simply trudged along. It took me three weeks to finish the book. The only reason I finished it was because I was hoping it would turn around and surprise me, but it never did.

It's still a Stephen King book, and is worth reading. I'm comparing it to Mr King's other works, which is a pretty high standard.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was different than other King books I have read. There was nothing paranormal in it. No ghosts. No demons. Just people even if they are some very warped people. I won't give away the story too much but it involves a retired police detective who is lured back into service by a vicious killer named Mr. Mercedes.

Over all this story was fast paced but I found it too predictable. Even the ending was easy to see coming. I enjoy books where the pieces all come together in the end. Not so here.

From a biblical worldview, King once again makes his characters wrestle with God. Does God exist? Does He care? The afterlife? In many cases, King seems to want an atheist answer to God yet his entire premise of good and evil, life and death, justice, mercy, sorrow, joy, etc. all flow from God. Without God, King's stories have no meaning. God is the foundation for everything.

The story does contain much bad language and sexuality.
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