And so, when the legendary Stephen King pens a novel (and now a trilogy) like “Mr. Mercedes,” it takes some time and effort for his fans (those who’ve been used to an otherwise predominant style and motif) to adjust and internalize this new form and design to his writing and appreciate the genius that he brings. I, for one, was absolutely amazed at the depth of knowledge King ascertained and then seamlessly invoked into this ultra-stylized thriller…this work, in my view, certainly stands on par with anything Connelly, James Patterson, Lee Child or Jeffrey Deaver has done and as such deserves the same genuine scrutiny and accolades.
William (Bill) Hodges is a recently retired police detective at a fictitious mid-western city. Divorced, alone, old and overweight and finding more and more that there’s little to live for, he teeters on the edge of suicide, often playing with his father’s (himself a former cop) .38 Smith and Wesson MP revolver while drinking the night away. One day he receives a non-returnable letter in the mail from the killer of an unsolved case that he was responsible for investigating late in his career. Dubbed the “Mercedes Killer,” it involved the sadistic slaughter of hundreds who were waiting in line at the “City Center” one morning at a job fair…the killer drove a high end Mercedes Benz into the crowd at high speed, killing and maiming hundreds while miraculously escaping. Hodges and his partner at the time, Detective Peter Huntley, pursued all subsequent leads but couldn’t come up with the “perp.”
Fast forwarding, we now follow along as Hodges not only re-establishes the details of that crime but slowly determines the profile of this killer. Introducing his, shall we say, dissimilar partners Jerome Robinson and Holly Gibney, he deliberately puts together his Mr. Mercedes plan, those steps which make up the bulk of this storyline. King is wonderfully expressive here, establishing a nuanced narrative while, all along, offering up the subtleties that make up a Stephen King novel.
Through trial and even heartbreak for Hodges, we come to a final denouement that is edge of the seat…I’ll only say that we get a satisfying closure for the reader and an opening to the next phase of the story.
A fascinating book, “Mr. Mercedes” is a remarkable turn for Stephen King, one that I definitely look forward to in the subsequent works in this series. Outstanding research, great storytelling along with entirely believable characters, we see a literary genius at work here.