Mr. Mercedes: A Novel by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Stephen King is known for his suspense and is thought of for those dealing in psychic matters like Carrie and The Shining. However he can really write a tremendous suspense filled thriller with everyday happenings and no spooky things involved. Mr. Mercedes has to be one of his best.

The title is not really the name of a person or even a nickname. In fact the Mercedes part is an automobile which plays a part all of its own in this case. The book starts with a huge crowd of people standing in line to hopefully gain early entrance into a Job Fair. The horrible thing that occurs to that line of hopefuls leads King into his tale.

One of the detectives who worked this case has since retired and is living alone, mostly watching daytime TV and other exciting events! However one day, Kermit William Hodges, that retired detective, receives a letter in the mail that changes not only his life going forward but that of many others.

The letter is a very long confessional type writing wherein the sender claims to be the Mercedes Killer and he is now working to see if he can in essence drive Ret. Det. (as he calls Hodges) insane. He writes of how retired police officers have a high suicide rate, high rates of alcoholism, insomnia, and other mental problems. He believes these are caused by the retiree not being able to continue his work and continue to feel necessary in the everyday world.

He also brags on the fact that he attended the funeral of the lady owner of the Mercedes who committed suicide because her stolen car had done the damage. Mr. Mercedes tells Hodges that he can get in touch and keep up the the upcoming events that will happen by replying to email type messages sent on a site called Under Debbie’s Blue Umbrella.

Hodges decides he will not get his old partners involved in running down the letter and trying to figure out what is going on and what will happen. He knows that as a retired cop he has no jurisdiction and has no business getting involved in this matter but he feels that he personally is being taunted and put down.

He somewhat begins by getting a young man who lives close by and does some chores for Hodges on occasion. The young man is very intelligent and extremely computer savvy which Hodges is not.

Also to bring in a few more subplots King has Hodges get involved with the sister and other members of the family of the woman who committed suicide. King’s methods of doing this and how he builds a tremendous story along these lines is fantastic.

He writes from the viewpoints of both Mr. Mercedes and Hodges and brings in more characters and interesting sidelights that truly hold the reader’s attention. The ending may not be a complete surprise but all of the steps building up to that ending are really suspenseful and page turners. Quite a story. Has to be read by anyone enjoying suspenseful story telling!

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