I grew up reading Stephen King, but somewhere around his accident (and my high school graduation), I moved onto different authors. I’d often go back to him over the years, but it wasn’t until a friend recommended Mr. Mercedes that I remembered why I love King so much.
Mr. Mercedes starts off with a horrific mass murder in which Brady Hartsfield drives a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of unemployed persons waiting in line for a job fair. He’s never caught, a fact that haunts now-retired detective Bill Hodges.
When a letter arrives in the mail threatening an even more diabolical attack, Hodges comes out of retirement to once again try and hunt down the killer. A cat and mouse game ensues as Hodges tries to find Hartsfield before it’s too late.
As is always true of King, his characters are what makes the books work. Hodges is memorable in his dogged pursuit of justice while he struggles with getting older and his inability to do everything he could as a young man. And Hartsfield is terrifying but (somewhat) understandable once we learn his back story.
Side note: I say that not because his actions are justified but because it’s like any good character: his backstory is what makes him who he is, and once we understand his motivations a little better, we come to understand what makes him tick.
Besides King’s ability to craft well-rounded characters and stories that move along at a clip, another thing I admire about King is his productivity. The man cranks out novels like you wouldn’t believe, and from my understanding, he writes each of them by the seat of his pants. He doesn’t outline, which makes the fact that Mr. Mercedes is a trilogy, all the more impressive.
Wine Rating: 4/5