King released two new novels last year, Mr. Mercedes, and Revival (which is currently awaiting its turn on my bedside table), and I was starting to itch for some King material, so I figured it was time to dive into Mr. Mercedes. I’ll be honest, the blurb on the cover just made it sound like yet another mystery thriller tale, a retired detective hunting down a psychopath/sociopath and terrible things happening as they play cat-and-mouse. I mean, I do like King’s horror tales, but do I need to add another thriller to my list of reading material?
What I forgot to take into account is King’s storytelling ability and attention to the details. It took me a little longer than usual to be completely hooked (about a quarter of the way into the story), but I was definitely interested to see how the story plays out.
William Hodges is a retired detective. He thinks about chewing on his service pistol, watches daytime television, and has put on some extra weight. He is still haunted by a couple of unresolved cases, including an attack at a job fair, that ran down and killed a number of people. The press christened the killer Mr. Mercedes, as that was his murder weapon.
Mr. Mercedes, or Brady to his mother, is introduced early in the novel, and this is where King excels, making the character very unnerving. He works his two jobs, one as an IT guy, the other as an ice cream truck driver, which added a number of my favorite moments to the book.
Much like the shark in Jaws, you only know it’s truly around when you hear the music, there were moments in Mr. Mercedes that put me in mind of that. Our characters, Bill is joined by a couple of great supporting characters in Jerome and Janey, occasionally hear the ice cream truck prowling the neighborhood, while they try to figure out how Mr. Mercedes is watching Bill and knows his routine as well as he does. It adds a very nice sense of dread to the narrative.
Things escalate between the two, Hodges trying to bring Brady in on his own, Brady wanting to push Hodges over the edge to suicide, and wants to go out himself in one, final, terrible conflagration.
This one works incredibly well, ratcheting the tension gently at first before racing towards its climax. It’s fun, entertaining, and some of it is down right disturbing. But that’s what makes King’s books so enjoyable. They are just fun blockbusters playing in the screen of the mind, and while I was anxious about a non-horror King story, which is ridiculous, because 11/22/63 continues to be one of my favourites, I was very entertained.
And consequently, I’ve moved Revival farther up the pile to read sooner.
What did you think of it?