Reading Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes

by Stephen King

Hardcover, 448 pages

Fear State: Perfection (5/5)

Mr. Mercedes is the first installment in a three-part trilogy. The nucleus of the plot is the what the trilogy refers to as the “City Center Massacre” where the main antagonist Brady Hartsfield took a stolen Mercedes Benz and plows it through a crowd of job seekers in the morning hours prior to a local job fair. What I love most about the three novels is that it hones in on how one event can forever change everyone involved. Thus, creating a domino effect of which the novels continue to illustrate as only King can. 

Bill Hodges is a retired detective. He can be cantankerous at times but someone that if you keep prodding him with love he’ll return it back. It’s a frustrating yet endearing quality which makes him one of the most relatable characters in the story. He receives a letter from Brady Hartfield taunting him on his inability to catch Mr. Mercedes prior to retirement. Brady also imploring Hodges to kill himself because without the job he’s nothing thus tugging at his will to live. This fixation with suicide would become the framework for Brady’s favorite method of taking his victims over the stretch of the novels. While you probably are feeling as if I’m spoiling the entire novel for you I haven’t. I’ve only scratched the surface. Many of you probably watched the television series that’s loosely based on these novels. The novel unravels differently from the television show. They are still worth reading.

I can’t leave this review without touching on the lovable auxiliary characters Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson. I love them both dearly. Holly’s high functioning OCD and host of mental handicaps gives her character such texture. She leaps off the page forcing you to love her dearly without direct eye contact. Still love her just the same. I feel as if Jerome is a true caricature of one of my cousins. He’s smart, ambitious and has a neatly executed wit. I wanted to see both of these characters not only win but I love the framily they create with Detective Hodges after the events of this first novel. 

Brady Hartfield isn’t my favorite of the characters. Which is surprising because under normal circumstances I nearly always root for the villain. Not so much here. He’s not likable in the least. However, that’s the point of villains. So don’t mind me at all here. He’s manipulative, sinister and plagued with angst of that seems to be a common thread of young men in his generation. The thing that sets him a part is his lurking desire for mass destruction. The dark twisted details of his back story didn’t make him any more endearing. I wanted him to lose. I don’t know what it was about him, but he gave me the heebee geebies. I realize that he was supposed to. But, it left me disappointed because again I usually identify most with villains. Nevertheless, the Mr. Mercedes is a nice separation from most of King’s work. As he slides into the suspense realm of writing it’s a lovely change of pace. I think you would enjoy it even if you’ve already seen the television adaptation. The novels take their own pivots and are twistier. Lol

Happy Reading,

PHA