Bill Hodges is a retired policeman who has recently taken to watching daytime trash TV and playing with his father's revolver. As a lot of retirees feBill Hodges is a retired policeman who has recently taken to watching daytime trash TV and playing with his father's revolver. As a lot of retirees feel at first, he feels out of place and useless. But all that changes when he receives a letter in the mail.
Months earlier, a grey Mercedes drove into a crowd of people, killing eight including a woman and her baby. The driver was never caught. Hodges and his partner were the lead detectives on the case.
The letter Bill receives is from the driver of the grey Mercedes, a man they took to calling Mr Mercedes.
The first half of the book doesn't feel like Stephen King to me at all. His voice is different for this one and I'm not sure why. But when I went back to the book that evening, it turned around in a snap and I simply couldn't put it down.
So what changed?
For me, I think it was the fact that Hodges stopped reacting and actually started DOING something. He's not necessarily the most passive person in the first half; he just doesn't really DO anything that I found... interesting? It could also have been the way it was written -- which is what I'm thinking -- but again, I haven't had time to go back and reread it to see what the differences were.
The first half did not feel like a Stephen King novel. The second half did, albeit not as strongly as his other novels. It felt like a watered-down version of what King can actually crank out.
It wasn't until the ticking clock started that I really became interested. The characters felt... bland. Boring. There's nothing wrong with everyday people however there has to be something for your readers to connect with. Perhaps if I was a cop, I could connect more with Hodges. or if I were retired. You've got a black whiz kid who's good with computers. You've got the sister of the woman who owned the killer Mercedes falling in love with the cop who harassed her sister because he thought she was holding back. You've got an alcoholic abusive mother and a son with a desire for glory.
King didn't make me care enough about his characters to love them. Towards the end, yeah, I wanted to know what happened -- but that was the race against time, the ticking bomb that all suspense writers know and love. Whether the characters themselves survived, I didn't really care all that much. It didn't matter.
I love Stephen King's work -- well, most of it anyway. And I wish he had written this novel to be more of HIS voice rather than aiming for a tamer version, perhaps to appeal to more people. It's not that King can't write crime -- he can. He just needs to remember what it is that readers enjoy about his work and not lose the edge that makes his work so much more enjoyable.
As for me, I'm now ready for Revival which is out in September. Hopefully it will be more King-like. But I'm also hoping that King doesn't just give up on the crime genre. As I mentioned before, this has the feeling of a debut novel. I want to see what King does with what he's learned from writing it....more