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In the predawn hours, in a distressed American city, hundreds of unemployed men and women line up for the opening of a job fair. They are tired and cold and desperate. Emerging from the fog, invisible until it is too late, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

Months later, an ex-cop named Bill Hodges, still haunted by the unsolved crime, contemplates suicide. When he gets a crazed letter from "the perk," claiming credit for the murders, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, fearing another even more diabolical attack and hell-bent on preventing it.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of eccentric and mismatched allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.
--front flap

437 pages, Hardcover

First published June 3, 2014

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About the author

Stephen King

2,067 books814k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,738 followers
June 20, 2016
Warning! Some Stephen King fans (Of which I am one.) may be angered by this review and feel the need to tell me one or more of the following:

1) I missed the point.
2) I haven’t written a best selling book and therefore have no right to be critical of someone who has.
3) I should quit being so nitpicky and just relax for gosh’s sake!
4) It’s called FICTION, not REALITY. Idiot!
5) I should burn in hell for all eternity for daring to impugn the honor of their favoritest author ever and this super awesome book!

So to save us all a lot of aggravation, be aware that I’m going to be calling out Uncle Stevie for the what I consider to be the failings of this one. If you can’t handle reading someone being critical of an author or book you like and feel the need to make a comment in the spirit of what I’ve outlined above, I urge you to instead go find a review that liked the book instead of enlightening me as to how mortally offended you are that my opinion doesn’t match yours.

And now back to your regularly scheduled book review of Mr. Mercedes….

In the midst of the economic meltdown going on in 2009 a bunch of desperate people looking for work are spending the night lined up outside the doors of a job fair so that they can be the first ones in when it opens. In the wee hours a maniac wearing a clown mask and driving a Mercedes suddenly plows into the crowd killing 8 people and injuring many more.

A year later retired cop Bill Hodges is spending his days watching crappy afternoon TV shows as he occasionally looks down the barrel of a revolver. Hodges was the primary detective on the mass murder at the job fair, and his failure to catch the driver is one of his biggest regrets. After he receives a taunting letter from Mr. Mercedes he decides to pursue the killer himself rather than informing the police. Hodges is soon locked in a deadly battle of wits with the Mercedes killer who is a brilliant but troubled young man named Brady Hartsfield.

This is a departure from King’s typical supernatural stories because it’s strictly a crime thriller of the type you’d expect more from somebody like a John Sandford than the Master of Horror. (It also made me wonder why he didn’t do something more like this for his Hard Case Crime offerings.) There’s even an indication made that this was not taking place in the extensive King multiverse when someone makes a comment about how the clown mask worn by Mr. Mercedes reminds him of a TV movie featuring a killer clown lurking in sewers which goes against the usual flow when even his newer books like 11/22/63 acknowledge It as being part of the same world.

In the early stages I was excited about the prospect of King doing something off his usual beaten track, but there were a couple of major problems and a lot of minor details that left me more irritated than entertained.

First and foremost is the issue that runs through the whole book in that Hodges knows he’s dealing with someone willing and capable of engaging in wholesale slaughter yet never seems to consider what twisting the tail of a rabid dog could do. Plus, if a thriller is going to set up some kind of mano e mano contest between it’s hero and villain then it needs to figure out some way to provide believable reasons as to why the fight has to remain between the two of them.

Even though King goes to considerable efforts to try and rationalize why Hodges feels like he has to go after Mr. Mercedes without involving the cops, the results have varying degrees of success. When things start going sideways, and it’s made very plain what kind of danger Brady poses not only to Hodges but to other innocent people, to have Hodges continue to feel justified in not telling everything he knows to the cop makes him seem reckless and oblivious to the consequences even as King pays some lip service to the guilt that the retired cop is feeling.

This could have worked better if he had played up the angle that Hodges had become an obsessive Ahab chasing his personal white whale, but King tries to keep his main character as a likeable white knight. That gets increasingly hard to buy into over the course of the book. It’s made clear by the supporting characters that assist him and willingly lie and break the law to help him without a second thought that we’re supposed to be rooting for Hodges, and that King wants us to think of him as a genuinely good person. By the time that the plot has been twisted into a pretzel with the effort to try and keep the fight between Brady and Hodges without making Hodges look criminally negligent, it’s increasingly hard to not be completely frustrated with him. This is especially bad at a climactic moment of the book.

That’s all I can say without spoilers, but take the failure of Hodges actions and motivations, add in a plot hole, a glaring mistake by King and the biggest cliché in crime thrillers and it adds up to a book that feels like a wasted opportunity.

You can read more about these, but I’ll be giving up the ending in the

While I went into this one with high hopes and thought King crafted a creepy and plausible villain for an era where mass murder seems to be the new normal, I couldn’t believe that a supposedly respected former police man would behave like this. The effort to try to force the plot to make up for the gap between what a responsible person would do versus what Hodges does eventually made the whole thing a story that had me rolling my eyes or ready to yell in frustration.

Sorry, Trudi...
Profile Image for Becky.
1,319 reviews1,610 followers
July 9, 2014
I have been a King fan since I was 9 years old, which I'd say qualifies as lifelong fandom. I've read every book he's written that I can get my greedy fangirl hands on... but this... This was a clusterfuck. I had to literally force myself to finish it - a first in my 20+ years of Constant Readership. Even his weakest books have always kept me turning the pages out of a need to know what happens next. But this one... I truly didn't care. It was my need to be a King library completionist that kept me going. The book played no part there and I swear it was doing it's best to get me to give up.

I am so disappointed by this book. I had so many issues with it that I don't even know if my incoherent ranting will even get close to hitting all the high points of my annoyance and frustration. But, oh, I'm gonna try. Stephen King may be one of my favorite authors, but that's no reason not to call a shit book shit. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... it's a fucking duck.

So, where to begin? I guess I'll start with the most important aspect of any book to me: the characters. I cannot even begin to describe how disappointing the characters were to me in this book. One of my favorite things about Stephen King is (usually!) his ability to bring a character to life, and to make me identify with them almost instantly. I've given him massive amounts of praise in the past for being able to do in 5 lines what lesser authors can't manage in a full novel, which is writing a convincing character.

But in Mr. Mercedes? Nope. Not even close.

Apparently Blockbuster was giving away the last of their cardboard cutouts the day King wrote this mess, and he must have stocked up, because they're everywhere in this book. There's not a single fucking character that felt anywhere close to being in the neighborhood of his usual standards of character writing. These were flat, cliched, chess pieces moved into position to progress the plot from A to B to C. Nothing more, though sometimes quite a bit less.

From the very first lines of the book, the dialogue felt stiff and unrealistic and stilted. I mean, let's look at the first two characters we meet: Augie and Janice. They meet while camping out overnight for a job fair. This right here leads me to assume that both are unemployed and looking for work... yet Augie feels the need to explain to her what "downsized" means - "the twenty-first-century way of saying I got canned." No, pretty sure that's also the 20th century way, too... so even though Janice might be young, she's probably heard the term and can put it together from context with the situation. (But that right there is also a huge problem I had throughout the entire book. Needless explanation and confirmation of even the most obvious things. This book is about as subtle as a boot to the face - and not in a good "pull no punches" way, but in a "Bond Villain Explains It All" kind of way, where there's no conversation to be had where there's any ambiguity about anything.)

I digress. So then we meet Janice, who is... I don't know. I think we're supposed to feel sorry for her, young and naive and unemployed with a little baby and few prospects... but then I think about how ridiculous she sounds when she's saying that since she popped a tiny human out of her vagina while being both single AND unmarried, she suddenly wants to apologize to and for the world and all of history. Because, gee golly, doesn't that just make her so likable? Isn't it just terrible that such a nice girl should be in such a tough position, and wouldn't it just be terrible-er still if tragedy were to strike?

These are the very first two cardboard chess-pieces put into place, intended as sacrificial victims to tweak our empathy glands and start us getting all amped up for someone to take down this sadistic killer.

Every character in this book sounded the same, probably because they are the same cutout - the only difference is what they are wearing. Janey's cutout has a blonde wig on with her "Hi! My name is Janey" sticker name-tag; Jerome's name is on another cutout's name-tag, and he's black (in case you forgot), and he's wearing a tie, so you know he's smart; Bill's has sandbags tied on (he's overweight!) and he's wearing a fedora and a badge; and then there's Mr. Mercedes himself, who has angry eyebrows drawn on over a big fake smile and he's carrying a remote control, some car keys, and an iPad; and last but not least, there's Holly, who has a Lexapro pill bottle where her name-tag should be, and she's wearing a lank gray wig and shapeless burlap sack dress while smoking a cigarette. (They all have to wear name-tags because otherwise you'd forget their names or mix them up. And likewise in the book, they all have to keep insisting on what they like to be called, so you can feel closer to them, a pseudo-familiarity that never quite actually makes it to anything that feels real.) But never mind their appearances... look at their dialogue bubbles. You could detach their little dialogue bubbles, randomly reassign them to different cutouts, and probably never even tell the difference.

Everyone had this oversharing bug. Ask them a yes or no question, and they'd give you answers to that, as well as to questions you didn't ask.
"Do you have a safe?"
"No, but I can rent one. I bank at Bank of America down the street."

"How often do you see your mother?"
"Every other day or so. Sometimes I take her food from the Iranian restaurant she and Ollie liked - the Sunny Acres kitchen staff is happy to warm it up - and sometimes I bring her a DVD or two. She likes the oldies, like with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I always bring her something, and she's always happy to see me. On her good days she does see me. On her bad ones, she's apt to call me Olivia. Or Charlotte. That's my aunt. I also have an uncle."

"Do you have a car?"
"Yup. It's a 2004 Toyota Camry which is burgundy (a shade of red) and I recently drove it after I started it with my key that I use to turn it on. Also I recently saw a movie with Will Smith in it! It was at the drive-in which is two blocks down on the left past the Burger King where Annie works the night shift and makes the best Whoppers. Also on that block is a movie theater (but that's not where I saw the movie!), a pet store, three Starbucks locations, and a Yayogurt factory. There's a shoe store 15 minutes from here. I like cheese. Kumquat."

Seriously. This shit is strewn throughout the whole fucking book, melting my brain and making me honestly think that Stephen King farmed this book out to Dean Koontz, or the gardener, or the ice-cream man. It's the only explanation that makes sense. I just... I can't stand the thought that Stephen King wrote this. THE Stephen King. Wrote THIS. My poor brain.

So, we have flat, cliched, person-shaped cardboard game pieces with no filters to know when to ever stop talking EVER. And OMG were they fucking irritating the hell out of me. First, the fat-shaming. Hodges is described as being overweight by about 30 lbs. He (and everyone else) acted like being 30 lbs overweight was grotesque and detestable, and the mere fact of being overweight made him less worthy as a person. He acts like 30 lbs is a fucking coffin he was dragging around behind him. He doesn't understand why a woman would want to have sex with an old overweight slob such as himself - though with good reason there, because she sure the fuck didn't seem attracted to him. (But more on this in a minute.) This fat-shaming is something that I've quietly taken issue with before in King's writing - particularly in Thinner, where the main character was a WHOPPING 50 lbs overweight - but it felt especially aggravating on top of everything else in this book. The way Hodges' weight was harped on in this book, I was surprised that he could even stand, or walk around and function in society, what with all that extra tonnage he's carrying around. Being overweight is NOT the worst thing in the world, and continually slipping in little judgemental comments about size is fat-shaming, pure and simple, and it's fucking irritating. Maybe King didn't mean it to come across that way, and I hope that's the case, but there you go. It pissed me off.

As a nice little segue into my next issue, let's turn our attention to Ms. Janey, who didn't trust Hodges to be on top during sex because of his weight (he might crush her!!)... but more than that, she didn't allow him to even participate at all in the sex. No touching, no talking (except her lecturing and exclamations of "Oh, that's deep!" *eyeroll*), and no moving at all. In fact, Bill, if you could just detach yourself from the dick and go in the other room, that would be even better for her so that she can get off without your pesky man needs getting in her way.

Goodness! I had to take a cold shower after that steamy scene.

Some people might say "Yeah! A strong independent woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to demand it." Except no. Her "demands" as to how she wants to have sex are fucking creepy - she might as well have slipped him a roofie and fucked his unconscious body for all the input he was allowed. But of course Hodges is just happy to be sticking it ANYWHERE, so he's not complaining, and therefore nothing's wrong.

As for her being independent and strong, nope again. She's not strong, or independent at all. She claims to be strong, but she needs him to hold her hand through every single thing she does throughout the rest of the book, including facing her own family, which Bill doesn't know from Adam because he's only known HER for a little while. She can't do anything at all by herself, and all of the things she claims that she's going to not be intimidated into doing... she does, or at least compromises on.

And I'm sorry, but "How's your cholesterol?" is NOT an OK morning-after question. As if that's in ANY way any of her fucking business. AND he was making her breakfast... "Oh, you were looking for bacon, fatty? I don't have any. I eat whole wheat toast and air. Both are dry and devoid of flavor, like my personality." What a bitch.

And no, that's not concern that made her ask - she has no right to ask someone she barely knows what his current state of heart health is. That's being a nosy ass fat-shaming bitch trying to make him feel shitty about wanting to have bacon instead of twigs and barley for breakfast. I don't know why Hodges even likes her (besides the "she lets me put it in" reason). She is judgemental, not very nice, and she makes fun of him. Oh, but right, it's the sweet, TEASING, kind of making fun. Like how she mocks him for saying "yeah". This nouveau riche woman, who is recently divorced from a cokehead abuser, acts like she's slumming it with an ex-cop who's so cute when he uses his slang... "Yeah". Look how ridiculous it sounds when she says it back to him! I totally see why they got the hots for each other. They are both shitheads.

Then there's Jerome, who has to remind everyone that he's black by lapsing into a fucking disturbing stereotypical and racist slave-jive or something. I don't even know how to describe it. I just know I wanted to punch him in the face every time he did it.

Holly started out with no personality, and then ended up with the same one everyone else shared. It's like the fucking Borg. Resistance is futile. But she would like everyone to know, just... all the time... that she's taking her Lexapro again. And OMG WHAT WAS WITH HER REPEATING EVERYTHING THREE FUCKING TIMES?? I GET that she's got mental issues... but come on. She suddenly reverts to a 3 year old having a tantrum just... randomly? "Call him! Call him! Call him!" "Do it! Do it! Do it!" OMFG STFU.

Brady... Meh. Was he scary? Sure. Because he could be anyone. But really he's just a fucked up spoiled ass teenager stuck in his rebellious 'fuck the world' phase, with a little dash of "daddy wasn't there!" and a good helping of mommy issues.

Anyway. Enough about the characters. Let's talk about the pop-culture references for a sec. This shit was ridiculous. King has always included popular culture tidbits in his stories, and usually I find they add something to the experience. I grew up reading his books, so it was like I was a part of the story. But this one... No. Just no.

Because of most of the characters' ages, and the dialogue being so... whatever it was... this felt to me like it was written for an older audience. Which makes sense, because King is getting up there in age. But then it feels like someone at the publishing house read it and was like "Yeah... we're gonna need you to jazz this up a bit. We need to connect with a younger audience. So Jerome was edged down to be a 17 year old, and then someone sprinkled random "cool" or "cutesy" terms they'd heard or invented throughout the text. And, as much of it actually felt kind of condescending and judgemental, it sure the hell didn't work for me in any way.

Some examples:
While watching Jerry Springer (yeah, it's never named, but come on, we all know it was Jerry.), Hodges comments on a guest's "tramp-stamps". A tramp-stamp is a specific kind of tattoo, placed on the lower back of a woman which people (guys) seem to think signify that the girl who gets one is a slut. The term "tramp-stamp" is not synonymous with "tattoo". One does not have a tramp-stamp on one's ankle. It's a lower back tattoo, specifically.

A 62 year old retired white ex-cop should not use the term "moms". Period.

"If you'd ever checked the owner's manual, Mom, maybe just to see what all those cute little lights on the dashboard signify[...]" Really? So, women think that the dashboard of a car is just full of "cute little lights". Because apparently we're just too braindead to understand what the pictures mean. Oh, if only we could have a man TELL us what it all means! What a ignorant dick thing to think. Fuck off.

Hodges calls Holly's medication "little white happy-caps". Again with the condescension. It's not as though she's a bored housewife popping Xanax and washing it down with margaritas while getting a mani/pedi. That is her medication, and it just seems super fucking rude to act like they are anything less.

Alrighty... I'm just getting more and more irritated now. I'm gonna wrap this up. I don't see any justification for the awards and commendations that Hodges has received in his career. He basically relied on Holly and Jerome to solve the case for him. He sat on information, followed his hunches, and jumped to conclusions based on nothing more than his intuition. To me, it's unforgivable that he should go the route he did in this investigation. He poked a dozing dragon, not thinking about the fact that the dragon breathes fire and that fire spreads. But no... everything is about Hodges. Such ego. He wrote HODGES the letter, therefore he's the ONLY one who could ever possibly be at risk if things go bad. Of course.

I also thought that it was just SUPER convenient that every time Hodges called his old partner, he had just made a super huge bustarino and had no time for anything Mr. Mercedes related.

Just... such ridiculousness in this book. Every page had me rolling my eyes at least once. I can't even... Just. Ugh.

I'm done. I'm turning off my "glowbox" and going to bed. Fuck this shit.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
761 reviews3,486 followers
September 6, 2020
The thriller writing King is a completely different experience than the oldfashioned horror King, but his ingenuity at characterizing is even more impressing when the focus on it isn´t disturbed by worldbuilding or horror elements, just focusing on the madness. Although it feels different and one recognizes that King isn´t so used to write, as he called it, his first hard boiled detective novel, because finetuned, plotted thriller storylines are something different than his normal approach of letting the characters tell the story without much planning and just watching where they will go.

I´ve already imagined King as a fantasy and sci-fi writer instead of a horror writer and what lies closer than extrapolating this thought to the thriller and crime genre. All these serial killers, monsters, maniacs, are already frightening enough without paranormal horror elements, but combining the metaphysical terror with real world demons would make some great pairings. Let´s start an uchronia:

King as a psycho thriller author who writes series with different protagonists and single or reappearing antagonists, including gothic dark fantasy elements, sci-fi body horror and future psychological terror, and the good oldfashioned, never boring, always appreciated blood and pain. This would have certainly made me a vivid thriller crime reader, a genre I don´t appreciate so much because of the missing fantastic content and worldbuilding, everything a bit too much circulating just around the characters and far too less extreme horror elements, except Chris Carter or Cody McFadyen and similar stuff not for the faint of heart.

Call me weird, but I like that stuff, just as splatter horror movies when I was young, sigh, nostalgic reminiscence of watching it wasted late at night. Hm, could possibly also be such a traumatizing PTSD thing that should really be reprocessed if I think about it now, but meh, who cares, I find my terrible nightmares very entertaining, wish I could have popcorn while watching myself getting haunted by demons, but my lucid dreaming level is sadly still to low for such realistic real life sense integration without waking up.

I am a bit wondering why it took King so long to explore this genre, because he uses to be a guest at different genre parties and likes to mix and combine different elements, so what could have been more logical than to make series out of it. It seems to me as if he recognized that he could expand his universe into sub universes and wrote Dr Sleep and the Bill Hodges Trilogy inspired by this thought, while most of his elder works were standalones regarding the characters. There were innuendos and interconnections to the places and settings of his novels throughout his work, but nothing that amalgamated it to something similar except of the Dark Tower series.

Wait until you meet the multi disturbed killer, the scenes around him and his dysfunctional family are King at his best.

The main protagonist may be an alternative version of King, a elder man who is searching for a new, final, and last goal and purpose. I am mentioning this because King was already dealing with old age in The bazaar of bad dreams and it seems to me as if he is a bit of nostalgically looking back at what lifes´ options are. I mustn´t forget to mention that there is a subliminal, soft touch of dark humor surrounding the protagonist, something rare in King´s writing, who seldom tries to be funny and sometimes fails at it.

It´s realistic how some technical aspects are broken down to an understandable level by one of the characters to explain Hodges some plot relevant details, although I first didn´t like them until I understood the purpose.

King gets a bit political too, this time not dealing with the all times unfavorites or racism and violence, but especially with the economic and political presence. It´s interesting to see how the bigots change their complaints from „He is writing about gore, sex, and violence, how disgusting.“ To „Now he is implementing leftist propaganda in our minds.“

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,289 reviews120k followers
August 5, 2021
Every religion lies. Every moral precept is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.
Detective Bill Hodges is 62, overweight, divorced and retired. He lives alone and has an uncomfortably familiar relationship with his father’s pistol. The two spend long hours together in front of the tube, taking in the sort of Maury-Povich-mind-poison that is probably grown in basement vats to be sold to post-lobotomy viewers for the price of a gazillion commercials, disposable hours of a pointless life, and a willingness to cash in one’s remnant humanity for a permanent gig as a morality-blind multi-eyed sofa spud.

Brendan Gleason as Bill Hodges - from the TV series site

Hodges had been on the job when a particularly heinous crime had been committed, but was out before he could find the evil-doer. His pre-suicidal reverie is disturbed by the non-postal-service delivery of a printed message. The nut job who did the crime taunts Hodges for his failure, and encourages him to take his suicidal contemplation a step further. Fat chance.

As far as the term hard-boiled goes, I feel pretty comfortable applying it to eggs (cooked in water until the yolk is firm). As for hard-boiled fiction, there are probably as many different definitions as there are diverse sorts of egg-layers. So I will offer no litmus test here to measure whether Mr Mercedes satisfies a certain set of definitional criteria. Is it truly hard-boiled or not? Is it truly noir-ish or not? To which I can only reply. Sorry dear, did you say something? Could you pass the bourbon, please. There are many sub-categories of the mystery genre, 14 of which are noted for your pleasure on the web site of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop . And I am certain that Mr Mercedes fits nicely into one of them. But whether you prefer your mystery tales hard-boiled, soft-boiled, poached, scrambled, fried or over-easy, the one thing that counts here is the chef author. Whatever he does with and to the genre, Stephen King will take you for a ride that includes at least a bit and maybe more than a bit of a scare. And scary is scary whether the source is a haunted house, a psycho alien clown or a very sick puppy.

Harry Treadway as Brady Hartsfield - from the TV series

Said sick puppy opens this story by driving the large Mercedes of the title directly into a crowd of the hopeful and desperate at a job fair in an unnamed Midwest town, killing eight and seriously injuring over a dozen more. (King talks about the genesis of this scene here, in a video clip from TV station WABI in Maine.) Not a recreational activity most of us might indulge in, but for Brady Harstfield murdering and maiming constitutes good times. He makes ends meet as a house-calling IT guy. His second job is as an ice-cream vendor. And, while it is fun to see Brady in his white truck gig, it did feel rather forced. If you are expecting Raymond Chandler here, or Dashiell Hammett, you will have to holster your expectations. There will be no trying-to-figure-out-whodunit in this story. The looney tunes with the diminished conscience and enlarged mommy issues is presented straight away as our psycho-killer. So, more Columbo than Marlowe. The trail we follow is in how the goodies discover and find their way to the baddie.

You know who – from mydaytondailynews.com

Erstwhile Detective Hodges takes the lead. King spends some time with introductions, as Mr Mercedes is the first of a planned trilogy. So we get to know a bit about him and his partners in anti-crime. Jerome Robinson is 17, black, 6’5”, a computer whiz, within reason, and Ivy League bound. He has been doing some lawn work and occasional IT assistance for Hodges, and is the closest thing the old guy has to a friend. Holly Gibney, 44, has issues, having spent a few sessions in institutions for the very nervous. She is a cousin to the late owner of the Mercedes that was used in the carnage. Hodges met her as he looked into the death of her cuz. Her mother Charlotte is an awful human being, controlling, greedy, and incapable of seeing Holly’s better qualities. She has some, intelligence and tenacity being high on that list. This oddball trio (the Harper Road Irregulars?) work the case, without, of course, involving the police any more than absolutely necessary. I found them extremely engaging. Jerome is probably too perfect, and Holly may be a bit too twitchy, but they are fun to follow.

Kelly Lynch as Deborah Hartsfield – not the ideal mom – with her #1 son - image from the TV series

King shows his playfulness with the genre, whatever genre it actually is. Of course, Hodges is just a retired detective not a PI, but when Holly’s aunt, Janelle Patterson, (named, surely, for a certain author King has called “a terrible writer”) hires him he takes a step in the genre direction. (I have vowed not to make any jejune comments regarding private dicks) Janelle even buys him what she calls a Philip Marlowe fedora. Janelle is, of course, the mandatory femme fatale, but if so, she is on the light side, lacking some of the attributes normally associated with that type. Could Hodges’ Harper Road address be a nod to Ross McDonald’s Lew Harper? The baddie references several cop dramas, NYPD Blue, Homicide, and The Wire, for example. Luther and Prime Suspect are noted as well, in a disparaging way. Mentions of Wambaugh and Grisham appear, and King double dips by naming a records department cop Marlo. There are undoubtedly many more, but those are the ones that jumped out at me.

Jharrel Jerome as Jerome Robinson - from the TV series

King lets us look over Brady’s shoulder as well as over Hodges’, and tosses in some third-party views as well. Parenthood comes in for a difficult time. Only Jerome, of all the major, or even secondary characters, has a decent parent-child relationship with his actual family. Of course bubbly family life is not exactly a staple of detective fiction, so that fits well enough.

Madness is the doorway that writers step through when they want to introduce a bit of fantasy to an otherwise real-world scenario. And SK simply could not help himself. Mr Mercedes is most definitely a non-fantasy novel, but there are a few (really, only a few) moments when familiar King woo-woo material appears. It will be interesting to see if this is a recurring feature in his trilogy or if SK can stay on the non-fantasy wagon for the entire ride.

Mary-Louise Parker as Janey Patterson – the client - from the TV series

So what’s the bottom line here? Stephen King cranks out novels, it seems, like Hershey produces kisses. They are all tasty and appealing, but there is a definite sameness to the product. King can draw readers in. He offers engaging characters, and understands the mechanics of tension and release as well as any living writer. Put a red wrapper on it and it remains a tasty treat. Blue? Same deal. I bet if King wanted to write a historical romance it would have engaging characters, some danger, some resolution. It would pull you in and hold on like a succubus (no, not public transportation through a red-light district) or, in this case, a femme fatale. I thought the anti-religion musing in which the killer indulges seemed like an interesting theme to explore further, but it seemed to fade.

You will rip through Mr Mercedes faster than the posted limit. There are some scary moments as you careen through, and you will care whether this one or that one comes to a bad end. Some do, some don’t. It is probably a good thing that King is looking to write things other than straight-up horror. He has to amuse himself somehow, keep those possessed typing fingers of his out of trouble. But overall, while Mr Mercedes will get you from here to there and show you a thing or two along the way, it felt a lot more like basic transportation than a true luxury ride.

Posted – 1/3/15

Published June 3, 2014

TV series – aired from August 9, 2017

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Here is SK’s site and FB page

Items of interest
-----A small article on the history of hard-boiled fiction, with links to more.
-----CrimeReads.com - What Is a Hard-Boiled Novel? by Otto Penzler
-----NY Times review of the TV series

In case you missed the link in the body of the review, Stephen King talks about the news story which inspired Mr Mercedes

A few other King Family items I have reviewed
by Stephen King
The Shining
Doctor Sleep
Under the Dome
Duma Key
Lisey's Story
The Institute
If It Bleeds

by Joe Hill
Strange Weather
The Fireman
20th Century Ghosts
Heart-Shaped Box

A Gif of the UK cover is fab, but I thought it too distracting to include above

Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,861 followers
June 8, 2014
Is this book perfect? Nope. Did I go completely fan-girl over it. Yep.
Stephen Fricking King. You never fail to surprise me.
This book did lag in a few spots for me. There was a insta-love going on. I don't give a sheeet.

Hodges..a 64 year old retired cop gets a letter from one of the worst characters I've ever met in a book. The hunt is on.
I got swept up in this book and now I'm crying a little (yes my cold heart does that occasionally). This book has characters that I was cheering so hard for by the end of it that my family was looking at me like I was nuts. (OK so it's happened before-shut up)

This isn't normal King though. This is crime fiction with a hard on.
There is a bit of overload on the computer stuff. Enough to scare the shit out of you at least. Who cares?!

And here it is:Best Ever line from a book:
"Any system created by the mind of man can be hacked by the mind of man. You feel me?.

ETA: My wonderful husband and I were discussing Stephen King a whole lot while reading this book.
I asked him if we ever met Stephen King if I could sit on his lap...his answer-"Honey, I'M going to sit on his lap". Get read King Man..get ready.

My hubby might be a ding dong. On a scrap piece of paper I had copied down the quote from this book I wanted to use.
This morning I see this-"Yeah, I feel ya, WTF"
The smartass.
Profile Image for Justin.
272 reviews2,243 followers
September 19, 2016
Let's talk about three-star reviews for a minute.

I feel like three-star review in today's world means whatever is being reviewed isn't good. And, man, I just don't know if that's fair. I feel like our expectations are too high now, and I'm right there in the mix thumbing at my nose at anything rated an average three stars.


I'm currently in freaking Honolulu hot damn Hawaii (which I think is the closest thing we have to what heaven will be like) and I'm finding myself on Yelp or TripAdvisor checking out local restaurants and my privileged, world-revolves-around-Justin self is like, "Whoa ho ho ho now whoa ok hold on there. We are not eating at that restaurant. They have an average rating of 3.5 stars. Nope. No way. What else is around me? And I'm not walking more than 4 minutes from this exact spot I'm standing in right now, by God."

Or I find myself on Amazon looking at mundane stuff like vacuum cleaners and I just want a good deal and something I can plug in to suck up dirt from my carpet and I'm all like, "Alright this is a good price and it ships Prime, but ahhhhh man average of 3.8? Gaahhhh what are people saying? Oh ok it works but it's nothing special. I need more I need more than an ordinary vacuum cleaner. I can't bring some average vacuum into my house. Give me a break! Get outta town and take the bus!"

And I feel like the same thing happens to me on Goodreads. But the times I've gotten over myself and read a quote unquote average book, I've loved it. The Dinner and Then We Came to the End are two examples. So let's boost the three-star review up a little bit. It's a good rating. It shouldn't have to focus on all the negative things about it.

I gave this book 3-stars but I immediately picked up Finders Keepers. It's a good book. Stephen King did a great job with it. There's stuff I wasn't crazy about but who cares? Three stars! Well done! I was entertained. I really enjoyed reading it. I think it's better than most contemporary mystery writers come up with these days. It unfolded at a great pace and really had that old timey hard boiled feel to it.

Give it up, America!! Three stars for Mr. Mercedes!! That's what it deserves and I enjoyed it. Alright.
Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews286 followers
April 4, 2017
Freakishly fantastic book!! Stephen King is one of the authors that never disappoints me. And Bill Hodges is a new book character favorite of mine!!!
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,108 reviews44.2k followers
February 27, 2017
This is only the second Stephen King book in which I’ve actually managed to get past the first few pages. I don’t know what is about his writing, but it really does not draw me in. This, however, was an exception. The fast nature of the plot resulted in a novel that was a real page turner, but it's not without its faults.

A cold trail

Detective Hodges has solved all of his cases but one: the Mercedes massacre. Just a few months before he was to retire a madman drove into a crowd of job seekers with a stolen Mercedes. The result was the deaths of eight people, and, to make matters worse, one of them was a baby. The murderer’s identity is completely unknown to the police. The culprit has left no clues or forensic evidence. The only lead they had was the car itself and that is another dead end. The trail has gone completely cold.

Hodges has now retired and is contemplating suicide; he has nothing to fill his days now that he is no longer a member of the police. Until one day the post arrives, and amongst the usual junk mail is a letter from the killer himself: Mr Mercedes. He goads the detective into interacting with him on a private social media website. This results in a deadly game between the two men, which was the novel’s strong point. This game of cat and mouse made it interesting. The detective eventually begins to outsmart the killer, he has been dealing with men like this all his professional life after all; thus the goader becomes the goaded and sets himself up for a fall.

A generic bad guy

In spite of the suspense created through the plot, I still felt that the bad guy was nothing original. I’ve seen his like many times before; he was very a-typical. He acts like a creep, so what better place for a creep to live than in his mother’s basement? And what better way to show his perversity than having him in an incestuous relationship with his mother? This felt like nothing I haven’t seen in a dozen movies or television shows. I’d have liked the Mercedes killer to be more unique and memorable because at this point he can easily be put under the category of “standard bad guy with all seen many times before.”

That being said though, I did enjoy the alternating points of view between him and the detective. I think this helped to lead to a more exciting climax. Overall, I did enjoy this but would have given it a higher rating if Mr Mercedes was more original. He was just very standard and generally quite forgettable. Generally speaking I tend to avoid this novelist and modern crime thrillers in general, so this was way out of my comfort zone. And the book didn’t convince me to read any more. I have the second book on my shelf; it’s been sat there for almost two years, and I still haven’t picked it up. At this point, I’m not sure if I ever will.

A fair 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews922 followers
December 23, 2017
"Comparison is the thief joy." - Theodore Roosevelt

The above sentiment couldn't be more true, even in the context of comparing books. This comparison may be a small insult to these novels but for me, Mr. Mercedes read like a less clever cross between Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba & You by Caroline Kepnes.

The dynamic between depressed, retired cop, Bill Hodges & your friendly neighborhood psychopath, Brady Hartsfield, is reminiscent of that between L & Light Yagami. Two intelligent men caught up in a game of cat and mouse, quickly moving pieces back & forth on a chess board of "Who Will Catch Who?" Except their story is not nearly as compelling.

Brady is written similarly to Joe Goldberg. They're both hilarious in their excessive judgement of everyone around them. They're both overwhelmingly fixated on one individual. They both have weird ideas about what it means to be aroused. Except Brady is not nearly as relatable.

It's possible that without having read these books prior to, I would've enjoyed Mr. Mercedes a bit more. But even without those comparisons, this story fell flat for me.

There was never a time while reading that I found myself wondering what would happen. Which is kind of a bummer for a novel pegged as a Mystery/Thriller.

It's as though the two main perspectives were not written distinctly enough to be convincing. Multiple times throughout, one character would decide to do something & the other character would immediately think of that specific thing in the next chapter or two. Why? Because they're just that on the ball?

I'm not buying it. The back & forth between hero & villain is supposed to be powerful and exciting. It's not supposed to read like a script. Instead of building suspense, it comes off as cheesy & predictable.

Not to mention for a murderous mastermind, Brady is kind of an idiot? From the synopsis, we know he stole a Mercedes, drove it into a crowd of folks, and evaded capture by the local authorities. However, none of his subsequent actions actually lead me to believe he's the same guy who committed that crime & got away with it.

He exhibits some capability with computers, but in general he seems too impulsive & hot-headed to be much of a threat. Brady's characterization by association sort of weakens the effect of Hodges' ability as a detective.

On top of that, Hodges does a very poor job convincing me that he truly has the best interest of the public at heart. Much of the time I was hoping he would break down and take the case to active police, but even at the risk of harming others Hodges is determined to occupy the vigilante role.

My absolute least favorite aspect of this novel is the female characters.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mercedes suffers from Women in Refrigerators syndrome. Most of the female characters in this novel are used entirely for the benefit or characterization of the male leads.

Take this quote:

"The woman he slept with after he'd come to a point in his life where he thought he'd never sleep with any woman again. The woman who made him laugh and gave him comfort. [...] The woman who wrinkled her nose at him and mocked his 'yeah.'"

Notice how this paragraph is constructed entirely to explain the role of the female's importance to the male character, and not to explain her individual attributes. She's not the woman with an impeccable sense of humor, she's the woman who made him laugh & gave him comfort.

Without having read the book, this point may not be as apparent. The problem is, I can't tell you a damn thing about this woman outside the context of her male counterpart.

If this wasn't enough, we're then treated to this lovely sentiment:

"Hodges has never even considered the idea that Mr. Mercedes might actually be Mrs. Mercedes. He supposes it's technically possible, and it would make a neat solution for an Agatha Christie novel but this is real life."

Oh wait, I forgot women don't actually kill people in real life? Sure, you can cite statistics about male vs. female crime rates, but does it make sense for a retired cop with years of experience to relegate this possibility strictly to fictional circumstances?

This novel was written in 2014, for God's sake. I realize that Hodges is a 60+ year old man, but seeing as he's the sympathetic hero of the tale I just can't get on board. Neither the novel, nor the characterization would've suffered by omitting this line.

So why 2 stars instead of 1?

It's because this wasn't bad enough to fall that far from grace. It made me chuckle a couple of times & it wasn't written terribly. But I could've gotten the same thrill from turning on the television & flipping to the nearest episode of Law & Order or CSI.

As pointed out by my friend Celeste, "With a show like that, you're giving up an hour of your life. Not 14."

Unfortunately, Mr. Mercedes is just not the intricately woven tale of murder & mystery & originality that I wanted it to be. It's entertaining to an extent, but it doesn't leave a lasting impression. It doesn't cause me to contemplate or question. When the book runs out of pages, it doesn't continue to live in my mind.

With this being my first Stephen King book, I didn't go into it with any real expectations. I know he's hit & miss even with some of his biggest fans, and so I intend to give his other books a chance! Perhaps a horror story next.

Thank you Celeste for buddy reading this with me even though I was an asshole & read it way too fast.

This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,524 reviews786 followers
March 2, 2021
This didn't read like a Stephen King book at all! In fact, I genuinely sort of forgot it was a Stephen King read, until I finished it! A horrific and unsolved crime was committed with a Mercedes. Overweight, depressed, contemplating suicide, the once heavily decorated and revered former police investigator Bill Hodges sits most nights in his La-Z-boy with a gun in his hands. When the killer reaches out to Bill, he finds a reason to start living again. This is the story of a duel of two minds that starts Under Debbie's Blue Umbrella and could end with a potentially even bigger crime.

I really enjoyed this mainstream pulp fiction thriller, from Hodges pretty selfish and ultimately serious damage causing behaviour, his wonderfully diverse and engaging ka-tet through to the conventional shit-bag demented villain. One of King's best pieces of crime fiction thriller writing, and far better than at least 2/3rds of King's entire body of work. It also feels like this book was fun to write for King... it even had a solid ending. 9 out of 12. Next stop Finders Keepers.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
682 reviews1,047 followers
September 11, 2021
“I would like to close with one final thought from the one who got away. That thought is: ‘FUCK YOU LOSER. Just kidding! Very truly yours, The Mercedes Killer.”

Slowly working my way through the SK backlog, and I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller.

Bill Hodges is a retired police officer. His days are spent watching daytime TV and and often contemplating using his gun on himself.

When he receives a letter from the infamous ‘Mercedes Killer’ a man who stole a Mercedes and drove it into a crowd full of people killing 8; Bill has to get to the bottom of it.
This unsolved case has bothered Bill for years, this fresh communication could only mean one thing. He plans to kill again.

Full of action and harrowing plot lines - I enjoyed the back and forth between Bill and the Mercedes killer. At times it was edge of your seat stuff.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the Bill Hodges trilogy.

Just picked this up in the Book Barn for £2!! 😁
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,114 reviews3,550 followers
June 30, 2014
I can't deny that I still need to read a lot to get to know Stephen King's work in novels. Basically my contact with his work has been on the adaptations of his works on films, mini-series, and on, that in that regard it has been quite a lot since I have watched almost all the major adaptations made.

However, I thought that this book can be a priceless option since not only didn't require having read any other book before, but also, himself had described as his first "hard-boiled" detective novel, so, it meant that this supposed to be away from his traditional horror books (knowing well that he has written other kind of stories besides horror genre's pieces).

Something that I truly like was that he did some references to other of his novels but using the film adaptations of them, in that way, it was clear to me that this story was in a different "universe" than the one of the previous horror novels that it's usual to have some "cross-over" references implying that the characters "exist" in the same shared book universe.

...a single moment of forgetfulness had led to horrific consequences.

It was an odd experience, since while I need to read more material from Stephen King, I have read a lot by Dean Koontz, and I found several similarities on this story. I know that daring to comment something like that must be like compare a Star Trek novel with one of Star Wars, however I did found some elements traditional to get in Koontz's books: A smart dog, a peculiar female character on a prominent support role, a car chase (kinda), a psychotic killer, and there is must be something else, but so far, those are which came to mind now. Also, while this is supposed to be "first" by King on this genre, well, honestly, Koontz has written several novels on this narrative style, with a protagonist dealing with some wacko psycho killer who wants the protagonist to die, just that those were refering as horror novels, without a so clear "distinction" to be considered "hard-boiled" detective novel.

That that gets me to another point. Honestly, I didn't felt it as a "hard-boiled" detective novel, or even a detective novel in a general sense. True, the protagonist is a detective, a retired police detective to be specific, but having a detective as protagonist doesn't make a book a detective novel in my opinion. Due that since the beginning you know who the antagonist is, you know who did the crime, and at least for me, the main fun in a detective novel is the struggling to find the culprit. But here, is basically a manhunt. True, he needed to use some deduction skills to find the identity of the killer (that it's kinda boring since one (the reader) knows it from the beginning) even to contact people to help him in doing that, that even that at some moments was maddening since some explanations of why the killer did his tricks were too obvious so waiting a lot of pages to certify something that you already know how was done was shocking (in the bad sense.

...almost never won a kewpie doll at the county fair.

Another thing that I found odd is that well, I notice too much similarities on the antagonist with Norman Bates from Psycho, at least the film's Norman Bates (since I still need to read the novel to compare) but definitely the antagonist is nothing so fresh and/or original and well, it's Stephen King that we are talking about and I'd expect a more original character.

I had struggles with the protagonist, not at first, he was doing quite well, but without spoiling, there is a crutial moment, when he is affected by an attack made by the antagonist where the result should be too shocking, but I didn't felt it in that way, he was able to think, he was able to start to give orders to his "sidekicks" in a very reasonable way, and honestly, I thought that he'd need at least a day, if not more to cope with what happened and then, to start to think in a counter-strategy. The story keeps telling to the reader that he is supposed to be sad, but honestly I felt it as cold as the antagonist.

...most people are sheep and sheep don't eat meat.

On the climax (don't worry I won't do spoilers) the protagonist isn't the "hero", I mean the one to catch with his own hands the evil antagonist and it's something done by the "sidekicks", and I think that there is a reason of why a character is the protagonist and why others are supportive characters and/or "sidekicks".

And I think that the book had too much pages in a story like this one, investing pages in detailing sub-events that they aren't so relevant or that they could be narrated faster without so many details. Fewer pages and a faster tempo could increase the possitive impact of the overall story.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,891 reviews10.5k followers
June 9, 2014
A madman driving a Mercedes plows into a crowd of job seekers, killing eight and injuring many more. A year later, the retired detective formerly in charge of the case gets a letter from the killer, taunting him. Can retired Detective Hodges bring in the killer before he kills again?

Stephen King tries his hand at writing a straight up thriller in this outing. Was he good at it? Of course he was.

Mr. Mercedes is a page turner, a cat and mouse thriller pitting a retired detective against the one that got away. Since King is pretty good at ladling out the suspense, Mr. Mercedes is a stripped down version of the usual King song and dance, distilled down to its purest form.

As with a lot of King books, the characters go to hell and back over the course of the book. Hodges is an overweight former detective contemplating suicide when the book starts and soon returns to his detective roots. Brady Hartfield is a 30-ish guy who still lives at home with some serious mother issues when he targets Hodges. The supporting cast wasn't all that deep but Jerome and Holly really stepped up at the halfway mark.

Shifting viewpoints is never something I'm a tremendous fan of but King does it well here, as does his use of the present tense. Hartfield is an unsympathetic villain for the most part and I couldn't wait for him to get what was coming to him. That's what you get when you plot to poison someone's dog, asshole!

Extra bonus points for mentions of It, Christine, and Judas Coyne from Heart-Shaped Box. If It and Christine are movies, could Mr. Mercedes be set in the keystone world of the Dark Tower series? Something to ponder.

It wasn't all roses and revolvers, however. The hated thriller insta-love was in full effect. There were a couple logical leaps I didn't care for and Hartfield's final fate was a little bit of a letdown.

I found Mr. Mercedes to be more enjoyable than Doctor Sleep and Joyland but it was never a "drop everything and read" kind of book for me. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Amora.
186 reviews136 followers
June 17, 2020
Detective Bill Hodges is basically a contemporary version of a Humphrey Bogart character. Even Jerome jokingly tells Hodges he looks like him with his new hat. This novel was a thrill and the villain is wonderfully well written. I became hooked on this immediately once Brady’s true character started to unfold. Holly Gibney even makes her first appearance here. King can sure write a mystery thriller!
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,566 followers
August 4, 2017
ميزة أن تقرأ لكاتب مخضرم هو أن مهما كانت القصة عادية ومكررة فإنك ستدهش لمعايشتك للأحداث والتفاعل مع الشخصيات
ومؤلفنا هنا هو ملك الرعب والأثارة "ستيفين كينج" إلا أن الرواية للأسف إثارة فقط ولكن بطيئة لأنك بالتأكيد ستعرف النهاية قبل نصف الرواية..فهي لعبة قديمة، فقط تدور في وقتنا المعاصر و بسيارة مرسيدس حديثة

حبكة معتادة تقليدية ،لعبة السمكة والصياد، القط والفأر، عسكر وحرامية

المجرم هنا مجنون بحق 'برادي هارتسفيلد'، شاب معقد ومشوه نفسيا، والعسكر هنا هو "بيل هودجز" الضابط المتقاعد

وبالرغم من أن الرواية تدور من وجهتي نظر رئيسيتين ، بيل و برادي ، إلا أن عبقرية ستيفين كينج تجعلك تشعر بأن برادي هو من أكثر الشخصيات الخيالية جنونا وتعقيدا في روايته والكثير من الروايات المشابهة
وكانت اﻷجزاء الخاصة بوجهة نظره هي ما جعلني أتحمل الرواية لنهايتها وتحمل بعض الملل الذي تسرب من اﻷحداث المتوقعة

ضابط يبحث عن مجرم ويحاول معرفة ووقف مذبحة أخري يخطط لها هذا المجرم .... انت تري خطوات كلا منهما في كل فصل، فماذا تتوقع؟

��عكس روايات المحقق الخاص 'كورموران سترايك' والتي بدأتها جي كي رولينج بأسم مستعار وصدر منها
The Cuckoo's Calling 2013
The Silkworm 2014
Career of Evil 2015
ريفيو نداء الكوكو
والتي حبكتها تدور من وجهة نظر المحقق ، والسكرتيرة في بعض اﻷحيان ، إلا أن الغموض يقتلك طوال اﻷحداث حتى النهاية في الجريمة ، من فعلها، كيف فعلها، لماذا فعلها
كما أن بين المحقق و السكرتيرة علاقة من نوع خاص تجعلك طوال الأحداث، واﻷجزاء ، مترقبا تلك العلاقة المتميزة وشخصيتهما التي لها أبعاد كثيرة

ولكن اﻷمر هنا مختلف، فهودجز موذج تقليدي للضابط المتقاعد، شخصية جيدة؟ نعم ، مثيرة؟ مممم فلتحكم أنت
ربما هو بسبب أن المجرم هو من خطف اﻷثارة كلها باﻷحداث ، فكانت شخصيته هي اﻷبرز
كما أن صديق الضابط، الفتي الشاب الزنجي كمساعد له كان مصطنعا بعض الشئ ولم يرق لي كثيرا

اﻷمر الثاني هو أن ستيفين كينج و جي كي رولينج في كلا روايتهم عن المحققين يقدما الكثير من الاحداث الجانبية التي تدور في حياة البطل، من تحقيقات أو أحداث وتاريخ شخصي وأيضا الكثير من الاشارات
للأحداث الجارية ، التكنولوجي و وسائل الأتصالات في حالتنا تلك، الازمة الاقتصادية بأمريكا باﻷخص في 2009-2010، سيارات المرسيدس -بالطبع- و غيرها من الإشارات لبرامج التلفزيون اﻷمريكي
وإن كان يعيب حالة ستيفين كينج إنه يزيد من إستخدام اﻹشارات والتلميحات لأجزاء من الثقافة اﻷمريكية بشكل أكبر وبدون توضيح ، فلا تشعر بأنك 'إنتقلت' لعالمه كما تفعل جي كي رولينج مثلا في توضيح إشاراتها ، وإنما تشعر كأنك أقتحمت العالم اﻷمريكي بلا دليل أو مرشد ، فتجد أسماء و أختصارت وحتي لغة عامية لا تعلم كنهها

المثير في اﻷمر حقا هو صفحة 'تحت مظلة ديبي الزرقاء'، النسخة الخصوصي لصفحات الفيس بوك

ودعونا نترك المقارنة اﻷن ولندخل تحت مظلة ديري الزرقاء ، لنري تلك اﻷحداث


المجرم هنا شاب في العشرينات..هجم علي تجمع لمواطنين منتظرين فتح باب معرض للوظائف في فترة الكساد في 2009 بأمريكا , ودهس العشرات منهم بسيارة مرسيدس مسروقة وقتل 7 ضحايا

الضابط المتقاعد هنا كان يحقق منذ عام قبل نهاية خدمته في هذه القضية, ولم يتوصل للقاتل.. يشعر بشئ من الندم بعد التقاعد خاصا أنه ضغط علي السيدة أوليفيا ترايلاوني ,صاحبة المرسيدس , لشكوكه أن أهمالها هو سبب سرقة المرسيدس وحدوث تلك المذبحة التي قام بها "مستر مرسيدس" بسيارتها

ولكن أحداث قصتنا بعد عام من تلك المذبحة

يصل لبيل هودج الضابط المتقاعد رسالة بالبريد العادي بها علامة ذلك القاتل تدعوه للدخول علي موقع ألكتروني ومحادثة المتسبب في تلك المذبحة البشعة , بل ومضمون الرسالة نفسه يدفع بيل هودج لقرار كان يراوده
قرار الأنتحار مللا من تقاعده وحياته الوحيدة ، عجزه أن يحل لغز مستر مرسيدس
بل ومعاملته القاسية التي دفعت السيدة أوليفيا للأنتحار

وبمساعده جاره الشاب الفتيّ الزنجي "جيرمي" في الكمبيوتر يستطيع الوصول لحقيقة ذلك الموقع الغامض السري 'تحت مظلة ديبي الزرقاء', ويحاول الأيقاع بمستر مرسيدس من خلال محادثته معه

في نفس الوقت نتعرف علي "برادي هارتسفيلد" ذلك الشاب المجنون وعلاقته بأمه التي تستدعي فرويد في الحال :) و حياته البائسة وعمله الأكثر بؤسا
ونتابع كيف يخطط لعملية أضخم من دهس عشرات الناس بالمرسيدس
عملية تفجيرية رهيبة...فقط لأنه بائس ومختل... وستعرف أي��ا أن الحياة لم تكن عادلة معه أبدا
متي كانت الحياة عادلة علي أي حال
هناك الكثير من اﻷمور التي قد تجدها شيقة في الرواية وتفاصيل قد تصيبك بشئ من الملل، ولكنها تدل علي أن المؤلف أراد توثيق تلك الفترة من حياة اﻷمريكان
الكساد اﻷقتصادي بذلك الوقت ، معلومات عن المرسيدس، مرض الوسواس القهري ايضا من التيمات المهمة هنا ﻷحد الشخصيات
إنحسار دور الدي في دي بشكل كبير للتقدم في مجالات الاتصالات والتحميلات بالانترنت
-وقريبا الكتب والموسيقي كما يتنبأ و اقتصارهم ألكترونيا-
بالرغم من تقليدية شخصية بيل ، و تصنع شخصية صديقه جيرمي الصغير
فإن شخصية هولي المريضة بالوسواس القهري كانت متميزة

ولكن تظل الشخصية اﻷهم هي برادي

فهي اﻷكثر أثارة وعمقا في اﻷحداث
بائ�� اﻷيس كريم ، الذي يحبه الجميع

ذو القصة اﻷكثر بؤسا ، التي قد تجعلك تشعر بشئ من التعاطف معه، كما أنه عبقري ولا أحد ينكر هذا

ولن أنكر أني قد تعاطفت كثيرا لحالته تلك وحالة أمه ... شعرت أن مقته الرهيب هذا للحياة جاء من تلك الحياة القاسية والقدر الذي لا نستطع أن نفهم كيف يسير ، أو نستوعب حكمته...إلا فقط باﻷيمان
“Every religion lies. Every moral precept is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.”

ربما لذلك ظهر برادي غير مؤمنا... وهي تيمة لاحظتها في قرائتي السابقة أيضا لستيفين كينج في
بسبب أيضا قدر مأساوي وصعب ﻷحد اﻷبطال

فهل سيكون قدر برادي أفضلا حالا بنهاية القصة ؟أم قدر بيل هودجز؟ هل سيوقف المجرم؟ هل سيمنع المذبحة؟

بالتأكيد ستعرف اﻷجابة مثلي من البداية
ولكن هذا لن يمنع أمطار الدماء

فلتحتمي تحت مظلة ديربي الزرقاء إذن ، وجرب الرواية
وأحترس من المرسيدس

محمد العربي
من 25 يونيو 2015
إلي 30 يونيو 2015
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,404 followers
June 16, 2014

This is a case where the star system really fails me, or I feel like I must explain my rating. Four stars does not make Mr. Mercedes one of King's best. In fact, stacked up against some of his better known works, it pales and withers fraught as it is with giant plot holes, some incredulous leaps in logic and a hero who behaves more moronic than heroic (if you want a list of these weaknesses look no further than Kemper's excellent review where he takes King to task on all these matters and more).

Kemper has a point. King shouldn't be given a pass based on Constant Reader goodwill alone. If you're going to tackle a genre where others have excelled before you, you just better bring your 'A' game and be firing on all cylinders. And here, King most definitely is not. There are problems. A lot of them. Not the least of which is King's fanboy enthusiasm for the crime thriller genre and falling victim to so many of its tropes and letting other opportunities pass him by unexplored.

And yet.

I was able to extract a fair amount of thrill from this thriller. I became tangled up in the cat and mouse game played out between the retired detective and the psychopathic killer. Brady Hartfield is a pretty compelling villain with a twisted and tragic backstory that makes him one of King's most memorable bad guys in a loooong time. Everything I wanted to feel for the stupid shit villains in Under the Dome, I felt here in spades with Brady. He is positively hateful. And genuinely terrifying without being supernaturally powerful.

Big spoilers ahead under the tag.

So the four stars reflect my state of mind while reading it -- engaged, turning the pages, and needing to know how it was all going to shake out. I was hoping for a very different ending -- alas, that is not the ending I got, but man, I was squirming in my chair HOPING King would have the ball sack to take it darkside. The dread and anticipation had to be enough however. And it mostly was.

This is a pulpy beach read and as an experiment on King's part I think it succeeds despite some serious problems. I hear now that this is a projected trilogy and I have conflicted feelings about that. I don't need King to write crime thrillers. That's not why I started reading him thirty years ago, and it definitely isn't why I've kept reading him. There are others out there in this genre who have been doing it longer and better. I'd rather see him continue his efforts in the King universe, where the sun might be shining, but there's something black and slippery in the shadows. Where small towns hold close their secrets and all is normal and safe, until it isn't.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,802 reviews31.2k followers
October 13, 2018
This was a great book to read in October. There are horror elements in the story, but this is more of a mystery book. I felt like it was very well crafted by Stephen King. He is a master a characterization in my opinion. Each character is a well rounded person with their own motivations.

In this novel he focuses on a retired cop who doesn't know what to do with himself in retirement and a murderer that brings him out of retirement and gives him something to do. The opening scene is grisly and then it's a whole other genre. This is a mystery. Stephen is excellent with the nuance of this story.

Bill's neighbor Jerome is part of the story and Bill meets a family that play into the story. This is not a who dunnit. We know pretty early on who did it, but we do get to see how Bill figures it all out. The final person in the trio is Holly, a older women who acts like a child still with some issues. She is the most interesting character in the story in my opinion.

Most of the characters are broken in some way in this story and the story explores how people deal with life with that broken piece. Some characters can pull it together and some are crazy. Jerome is the only character who doesn't really seem broken. He's getting ready to go to Harvard - so he's smart.

I found myself thoroughly enjoying this story. I feel it is one of King's better works in recent years, not that I have read them all yet. This story drew me in and I couldn't stop. I wanted to know what happened and how it was going to go down. I was compelled by the story. Stephen is so gifted at writing his story. I will be going on with the Bill Hodges story. I feel like this was an excellent story and mysteries aren't really my genre.
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,542 followers
January 3, 2019
Verdict is: This is lukewarm-at-best Stephen King.

Still, not as notoriously awful as more recent literary attempts (yuck Dr. Sleep yuck!). There is notable strength in the back story of the sociopathic killer. Also, a healthy handful of Stephen King elements that makes one chuckle for their inclusion in such a, well, pedestrianish tale of savagery & woe. Regular tokens such as the car-as-weapon, retiree-as-hero and death-of-secondary-protagonist midway are all happily included in this tome.
Profile Image for Joey R..
235 reviews295 followers
December 28, 2020
5.0 stars—- I decided to read “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King after another Goodreads member recommended it to me due to my high praise for “The Outsider”. After finishing it last night, I can honestly say it was one of the best Stephen King books I have ever read. Who would think that Stephen King could write this type of mystery, with no supernatural elements, that is written from the perspectives of both a retired investigator and a mass murderer as the investigator continues to try to identify and capture the murderer after his retirement from the police force. The cat and mouse game between the two is some of the best and most realistic interactions I have ever read. The fact that King is able to sustain a high level of intensity from beginning til end in this book is a monumental achievement that kept me reading late into the night. If you have not read this book yet do yourself a huge favor and put it on your to be read list, I promise you that you will not be sorry. Now, I have to decide whether to read the other two books in this trilogy immediately or to space them out. Hopefully, they will be just as good as this one.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,414 reviews7,408 followers
July 25, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com

When I first saw the cover art for Mr. Mercedes I thought , “Awwwww, how sweet – Stephen King wrote a book about a guy who drives an ice cream truck” ; )

I didn’t bother to read the synopsis. I rarely do – especially when it comes to anything by King. He writes it. I read it. End of story. Then the ratings started coming in, and boy were they polarized. I still didn’t bother reading any blurbs or reviews, I just braced myself and prepared for the worst.

I’m telling all you King superfans right now to repeat the following mantra: “Stephen King did not write this. Stephen King did not write this. Stephen King did not write this.” Did it work? Are you sufficiently brainwashed? It seems strange that I need to even add this disclaimer. With all of the different stuff King has written in his 40 year career his fans should know to expect the unexpected. If you’re expecting a horror story – you’re going to be seriously disappointed, so just pretend a Lee Child or a Harlan Coben or a Dennis Lehane wrote this book so you can give it the stars it deserves.

Bill Hodges is a Det-Ret (that’s retired police detective in layman's terms) who let one big fish get away. He’s now dipping his toes in the amateur private investigator arena – kind of a Philip Marlowe, if you will.

Brady Hartfield is “Mr. Mercedes” – a member of the geek squad turned murderer who is dealing with some serious mommy issues (wink).

He’s a little:

(Hopper with a reading reference? Nerdgasm!)

with some of this:

and a smidge of this:

(read the book, I promise you’ll understand)

“In a don’t-give-a-fuck world, [Brady] is about to become the ultimate don’t-give-a-fucker.”

Can Hodges make the (not-exactly-legal) collar one last time and catch Hartfield before he strikes again?

After reading approximately eleventy billion mysteries over the years, I've become pretty good at figuring out the “whodunit” part, so I need a book that either takes me on a wild ride to the finish or one that assumes I’m not brain-dead and lets me know who the bad guy is right from the jump. Stephen King did both. Yes, right before the climax everything kind of turns into a giant stew of boiling shit and unbelievable plotline, but really who even gives a flying fart? because it’s Stephen Fucking King and even when he’s writing something he doesn’t generally write, he does it better than 99% of the other authors out there.

Profile Image for Ginger.
735 reviews337 followers
March 31, 2020
And six years later after this was published, I finally have gotten to Mr. Mercedes and the Bill Hodges series!
I liked this book more then I thought!

If you are a Stephen King fan, you'll still get the characterization in this book that he does so well. Mr. Mercedes is different then his horror books though since it's more of a crime thriller.

The main characters of Bill, Holly & Jerome are great!
I enjoyed how each character was uniquely different and complex.
The evil piece of shit in this book was fantastic as well but in other ways. You hate this guy when his chapter comes up and also feel like you should take a shower. He's down right despicable and gross!

Mr. Mercedes is a fast paced thriller about a retired detective and an evil killer. Bill Hodges, the retired detective just can't seem to get over the one case he didn't solve.
A cold blooded killer one morning steals a Mercedes and drives it into crowd of job seekers at a job fair. The murder case has never been solved and the killer is still roaming free.

Until one day, Bill Hodges gets a letter in the mail...

Definitely recommend this to fans of thrillers and detective series.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
628 reviews4,255 followers
May 26, 2018
"Everybody likes the ice cream man."

Retired cop Bill Hodges is haunted by an unsolved crime where innocent people were waiting for entry into a job fair when a lone driver plows through the crowd in a Mercedes, injuring and killing many. When he receives a letter from the perp threatening another evil act, Hodges becomes hellbent on preventing such horror happening again.

I could read true crime until it made my eyeballs bleed, but there's just something about crime fiction or detective stories that don't really appeal to me. So to know that King's Bill Hodges trilogy is kind of a cat-and-mouse detective story didn't fill me with much excitement. But let's cut to the chase - overall, I really enjoyed Mr Mercedes, but it is nowhere near being King's best.

It's a page-turner and you constantly want to know what happens next, which propels you through the story. From the get-go we do know who the killer is, and that removes some of "mystery", but I liked getting into our villain's head - even though I fucking hate him with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I hated him until we got the backstory behind his younger brother, and then I REALLY fucking hated him, that part left me in tears.

As for the other characters, Bill Hodges is one of my new faves. I don't know what it is about him exactly, but I just find him so lovable. I loved how he treats Jerome and Holly, and those around him. He's just very likeable and believable. I know Holly is a huge fan favourite for most people, and although I like her I do find her a bit irritating at times... I'M SORRY. Jerome is cool though.

It's a strange read though. Some aspects feel very King, but others just don't feel like King at all. I'll start with those aspects that didn't feel very King-like: the lack of horror or a supernatural element (yes, it was quite unsettling at times and the methods used by our villain are terrifying but it's not PROPER horror), the storyline itself just felt un-King, the location...we're not in Maine or anywhere near it, it just didn't FEEL like a King location. However, King's fingerprints are all over it in terms of the development of his characters, the writing, and his dialogue.

To me, Mr Mercedes felt like a well-written but kinda generic crime fiction book. It's a fun ride, but there's nothing overly substantial in there. However, this is part of a trilogy so I'm excited to see if this changes. That ending though *rolls eyes* It felt like I was watching a soap opera on a Friday afternoon and they had to make sure you tuned in on Monday. A tad cheesy and predictable. But it DID work in a way as I couldn't wait to pick up Finder's Keepers!

You can see how my thoughts are all over the place with this one. In terms of sheer enjoyment, I would give it 4 stars out of 5, but I do have a few issues.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
307 reviews1,313 followers
November 29, 2016
Sorry for being sentimental, however; I am probably in the most depressive state I have ever been within. This book has helped me, bizarrely as it is about a "hard-boiled" ex-cop and a well-created mother loving charismatic and clever serial killer.

I do not give many books five stars and Stephen King with his commercial success - I did not think this day would ever come except perhaps the Dark Tower series which I did appreciate.

I can't start to analyse how good this is. I am depressed reviewer so let's see what my words can compose. Bill Hodges is a great character, he is there watching daytime TV until he gets a letter from the one case that got away whilst he is eating the business end of a revolver he loves and keeps on his couch.

So many great scenes - I do not wish to disclose spoilers but the relationship with Brady and his mom, the relationship with Hodges and the sister of a lady who committed suicide following on from taunts from Brady (the Mercedes killer) under the fictional discreet chat room of the Blue Umbrella. I like Jerome, the Negro who played the 'nigger' card when it suited him but is a high-class genius who I really hope is in the next two books. I also loved Hollie, the middle aged 'mentalist' who probably got how far she did with deductions with her mental instability to get into the mind of the Mercedes Killer. This was amazing. I just wrote this review off the top of my head and I won't edit it and I do not care as that his how I feel right now.

The ending was brilliant, potentially loss of 1000's of lives at an equivalent of the fictional one direction show.

I loved this book. I am in a weird space mentally right now, probably why I understood all the characters so well. If you haven't then read it. It is amazing. Your friend (who is still sad in life right now) James x
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,851 reviews16.4k followers
June 29, 2019
While no doubt global and domestic terrorists and active shooters have caused most of the damage, this book makes me wonder how much Stephen King has contributed to our national paranoia.

He comes up with some f***ing creepy s***.

I mean, we KNOW it’s Stephen King and he cannot just keep scaring us with the same old themes, he’s got to come up with new stuff. But even considering that, I was still shocked a couple of times and thought “who thinks like that”???

Stephen King, that’s who.

Mr. Mercedes is not his traditional horror genre forte, this is rather a crime novel with horror elements intrinsic to the action. And one way of looking at crime fiction would lead to the thought that the best crime fiction should have horrific elements: murder, violence, insanity, etc.

Something else any self-respecting crime / thriller writer MUST have is a good protagonist. They cannot all have Sam Spade or Mike Hammer, but a good, likeable, charismatic hero. And this hero has to be real, we need to see some damage and world weariness. Doesn’t have to be a drunk, but maybe he used to be. Doesn’t have to be divorced, but he usually is; at least have a self-destructive path of broken relationships.

For his granite jawed, big hearted, street wise but broken leading man, King introduces us to Bill Hodges, a recently retired career detective. Bill is not adjusting well to his new idle time; there is a daily cavalcade of daytime TV and much staring into the abyss.

And all great super sleuths must have a nemesis, a criminal mastermind to act as a foil to our leading man. As Hodges is to Holmes, so too is the Mercedes Man to Moriarty. Taking his queue from recent headlines, this antagonist is a demented urban terrorist who wants to one up the 911 assholes as producing the greatest body count on American soil.

Having set the table, King serves up a banquet of hunt and hunted, with a big heaping plate of disturbing and a dessert of OMYGOD!

Good, solid crime fiction.

Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 8 books6,913 followers
August 16, 2016
Bill Hodges is a retired detective in a city that's seen better days. For that matter, Bill has seen better days himself. He's divorced, living alone, and now spends most of his time in his recliner watching dopey daytime television shows while playing with his gun and wondering what it might be like to just stick it in his mouth and end it all. He's let himself go to seed and is now twenty pounds overweight; clearly, he's on the downhill side of life.

Like a lot of retired detectives, though, Hodges is haunted by a handful of cases that he investigated but never solved. The one that pains him most involves a killer who stole a large Mercedes sedan and then deliberately drove it at high speed into a crowd of people who were lined up outside an auditorium, waiting for a job fair to begin. Eight people were brutally killed; many others were injured, and the driver got away cleanly.

Now, several months later, Hodges receives a letter from the killer, taunting him and threatening to commit another act of atrocity. Of course, Hodges should turn the letter over to his former fellow detectives who are still investigating the massacre. But the letter stirs something in him and, rather than doing what logic and the law both require, he decides to investigate the matter himself.

The reader soon learns the name of the killer, Brady Harstfield, and this story is as much his as it is Hodges. Hartsfield is a demented young man with some serious mommy issues. But he's very good with computers and has a certain native intelligence. He has a plan for Bill Hodges and a larger one for himself, stemming from the rush he got by killing all those innocent victims at the job fair.

What follows is a great contest of wits and physical skills, pitting Hodges and a couple of unlikely allies against Hartsfield. In Hodges, Stephen King has created a flawed but convincing and engaging protagonist. In Harstfield he has created the epitome of an evil man. Books like this almost always rise or fall based on the qualities of the bad guy, and King provides us here with a believable and genuinely scary villain. Readers will not soon forget either Bill Hodges or Brady Hartsfield.

If the book has a flaw, it rests with the fact that the reader has to buy into Bill's reasons for refusing to turn this matter over to the cops so that the entire police force can be deployed against Brady Hartsfield before a lot more innocent people are killed. There are several places in the book where the reader may wind up shaking his or her head at the notion that Hodges would continue to go it basically alone. But a lot of thrillers like this require a suspension of disbelief and the story moves along rapidly enough that it's easy enough to do so here. Bottom line, this is a great read from a man who obviously knows how to tell a story.
Profile Image for Mohamed El-shandidy.
108 reviews294 followers
August 22, 2022
My first English-Arabic review , I really hope you like it ✨🌿.

دائماً ما تساءل علماء السلوك والأطباء النفسيون عن دافع المجرم حين يرتكب جريمته.
هناك مجرمون بسطاء لم يصعبوا الأمر علينا ( هدفهم المال ، السُلطة ، الانتقام ، إلخ )
و لكن هناك عينة من المجرمين في هذا العالم عجزنا تماما عن فهمهم ، فأطلقوا عليهم لقب ( سيكوباتي) أو ( المعتل الاجتماعى ) ، ذلك حين يخرج الدافع عن حيز الإدراك الفطرى للإنسان .

و دائماً ما يتشاركون في صدمة قاسية حدثت أثناء طفولتهم فتركت أثرها الدفين في عقولهم و نفوسهم.
و تكون جريمتهم بعد ذلك هروباً مما خافوه أثناء نشأتهم.
" بعض الناس يحبون فقط أن يروا العالم يشتعل من حولهم ."
كما يقول (ألفريد) مساعد باتمان 🧐🦇

و هذا هو الحال في روايتنا ، عندما يقود شخص -بقناع مهرج- سيارة مرسيدس مسروقة ليدهس تحت عجلاتها الدامية صفوفاً من الناس في انتظار عملهم في ضباب ��لصباح.

I've been shaky about reading for King in English , because a man with a bachelor in English and a very American writing style will make a hard read 😅.
But the inquisitive urge to read for him has won , and I won a good time with the novel.

First, you should know that King has a Mercedes , so you may imagine what was going there in his mind writing this book 😀

I can describe King's writings as the simple unpredictability.
He writes down simple events but gathering them up with an unpredictable plot makes him a legend , and he uses his skills in a totally different genre here ( Crime ).

King likes drawing troubled brains , he loves creepy self-talks , and problematic flashbacks. ( altho these apply more on his other novel The Shinning).

The story 's about a psychopathic Mercedes driver who commit a massacre by running over a queue of dozens of people (including a baby girl) waiting for a job interview , the case went unsolved thanks to the killer's luck and his perspicacity.

Bill Hodges - an ex cop- gets sick of life after his retirement, so sick that the dark clouds of suicide has been roaming above his head, till he got a weird  letter from an anonymous claiming he is the Mercedes killer !

In a frame of thrill and stir , we live the suspense with Hodges , know about the life of Mr Mercedes , what made him do that and what his plans are in the very near future .

BUT, there were some flaws i really didn't like :
1- The second half of the story suddenly became lame , the plot got completely predicted.
2- Mr. Mercedes was supposed to be a highly intelligent criminal but he made some really stupid nonsense mistakes , just to make the story fit.

The novel was full of (I didn't see that coming) , Recommended 🚗✨.

Profile Image for Matt.
907 reviews28.1k followers
December 26, 2020
“Every moral precept is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.”
- Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes

Stop me if you’ve heard this storyline before.

A psychopathic killer (or terrorist or abductor) taunts the detective (or ex-detective) who is trying to catch him.

Okay, I’ve stopped. You have heard this before.

The cat-and-mouse subgenre of the crime/mystery/thriller/suspense genre has many permutations. I’m sure if we looked hard enough, we could find evidence that Cain sent Abel messages comprised of letters cut from magazines, before eventually murdering his brother.

Mr. Mercedes thus feels exceedingly familiar. It features a brutal mass murderer taunting the man who tried to solve his greatest crime. As such, this is certainly a book I would have avoided except for the name on the cover: Stephen King.

King is a national treasure. If we step back and look at his body of work, and how those works have endured, it leads to the conclusion that he is one of the great fiction writers of all time. Of course, because he paints with horror and the supernatural, he is probably fated to be second-classed by posterity.

In any event, when a novel is written by Stephen King, I take notice. I’m especially interested when he leaves behind his familiar stomping grounds and does something different. And this is different, relative to most of his oeuvre, meaning, of course, that it is more normal. This is a reality-based thriller, without any magic burial sites, satanic possessions, or demonic presences. Moreover, this takes place far from the haunted Maine of King’s multiverse. Instead, the story takes place in a fictional, unnamed Ohio city that has been financially scoured by the Great Recession.

King himself has said that Mr. Mercedes is his attempt at a hardboiled detective novel (and to ensure that you understand this, he drops more than a few literary references). With all due respect to the master, this is not hardboiled. This is grand guignol. While Mr. Mercedes is shorn of the supernatural and the extraterrestrial, it is bursting at the seams with King’s typical (one is tempted to say pathological) leitmotifs: child abuse; sexual assault; incest; mommy issues; extremely graphic violence.

The novel opens at the City Center, where a long line of the unemployed await the opening of a job fair. Suddenly, a car drives into their midst, killing and maiming, a murderous machine. But this car is not acting on its own volition. It is driven by a madman.

(Note: Mr. Mercedes was first published in 2014. It begins in 2009. Both the setting and the publication predate the Nice truck attack in July 2016, and the Charlottesville car attack in August 2017. This adds a layer of real-life tragedy to King’s minutely detailed description of his fictional, plot-percolating slaughter. For one, anyone who has seen the pictures of Charlottesville, with people caught midair as they are struck by the vehicle, their shoes and water bottles and glasses flying off from the impact, will recognize immediately that as graphic as King writes, the reality is far worse).

That madman is Brady Hartsfield.

Before you grab for your spoiler pitchfork, I hasten to add that Brady’s identity is not a surprise. This is not a blind study. Instead, King – writing in the third-person limited – toggles back and forth between the perspectives of Brady and his nemesis, the retired Detective Kermit William “Bill” Hodges.

Taking this approach was an interesting decision. It almost guarantees that there will not be any surprises, since you know exactly what Brady is planning, and exactly how Bill is attempting to respond. Having set this course, King must utilize other tactics to generate suspense. To his credit, there were several times when I thought the plot was going one direction, and it suddenly started going another. (It should be noted, however, that I am plot-stupid. I am very bad at guessing what is coming next). In order to do this, though, King has to rely on a lot of red herrings.

Even with some zigs and zags, the ultimate endgame becomes readily apparent long before we reach the climax. My enjoyment came not from intricate plotting, but from King’s usual excesses. At nearly 450 pages in hardback, this is King being his typical, voluble self. I mean, do we really need a lengthy, almost anthropological description of Bill Hodges watching a Jerry Springer-esque show on television? No. But this is Stephen King, and at this point in his career, he does what he wants.

I appreciated the setting, a failing industrial town hit hard by an economic downturn. He does not dwell on the Great Recession, but uses it to good effect (just as Gillian Flynn did in Gone Girl). King also remains a master at back-story. His section on the origin of Brady Hartsfield is probably the book’s most memorable sequence. It is a chilling, wrenching, and grotesque story-within-a-story, that reminds you that you don’t need monsters for effective horror.

Part of the joy of reading Stephen King is that sense of nostalgia. His writerly tics are on full display here, with the obsessive detailing of cultural minutiae and hyper-verbose dialogue that King fans have come to know and love. Also on display: an obsession with aging, weight gain, and one excruciatingly bad sex scene.

(Another note: My wife and I came up with a game called Talking Like a Stephen King Character. It goes like this. Someone asks you a simple question. You respond with a rambling monologue that encompasses a good portion of your life story, finally winding your way to an answer. In King World, no situation is too dire for a character to give a needlessly longwinded and unnecessary explanation).

This is not a classic by any means. Hodges is straight out of central casting, meaning that the most interesting character is a deranged killer. Moreover, both Hodge and Brady display what I call Selective Intelligence. When the plot needs them to be geniuses, even to the point of prophecy, they are geniuses; but when the plot needs them to make incredibly stupid decisions, they do so unblinkingly. Finally, the end itself stretches the bounds of incredulity far beyond the breaking point.

This is the first in the so-called “Bill Hodges Trilogy.” Typically, I don’t get involved in book series, especially not one focused on a crime fighter. Such books are too formulaic for my tastes. When you follow a single character through a series, you can rest assured that character has pretty thick plot armor, which lessens the tension and generally assures a favorable outcome.

But this is Stephen King. That changes the equation. This may be formulaic and plot-recycled, but it is formulaic and plot-recycled to the extreme.
Profile Image for Maciek.
558 reviews3,271 followers
July 19, 2016
For a suspense thriller this was pretty average, and for a Stephen King novel it's pretty weak. Mr. Mercedes is a departure from most of Mr. King's other work in the sense that it has none of his trademark mixture of the fantastic with the ordinary - it is a pure thriller, dedicated to James M. Cain and prefaced with the opening line of his noir classic, The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Mr. Mercedes opens somewhere in the American Midwest, in a depressed, unnamed town hit hard by the recession. A crowd of desperate, unemployed people lines up in a long queue outside the door of a job fair hours before it opens, hoping to finally find a job. But they never will - before the fair has a chance to start a masked maniac in a Mercedes rams into the crowd, killing eight people and injuring fifteen. The killer escapes.

A year later retired detective Bill Hodges lives out his retirement by eating crappy food and spending days in front of the TV. Hodges was one of the detectives assigned to capturing the job fair killer, and the failure to do so still sits heavily on his conscience. When Hodges receives a message from someone who identifies himself as the Mercedes Killer, Hodges decides to pursue him himself rather than turning the case over to the police, which soon turns into a desperate race to stop him before he strikes again on a much bigger scale.

The biggest flaw of Mr. Mercedes is that there's literally nothing to distinguish it from countless run-of-the-mill thrillers which appear on the bestseller lists every week. There are tens of thousands of novels exactly like this one published every day across the world, and I'd dare to say that many of them are significantly better.

The characters - which are often hailed as Mr. King's greatest achievements - have no real charm or personalities which would allow us to care about them and what they do. Bill Hodges is presented as a rogue detective who is hellbent on catching the killer on his own, even when he proves to be dangerous to innocent people. It simply makes no sense to not involve the police at this point, and Hodges's action are selfish and stupid - but he's constantly presented as a good character. There's an attempt at justifying this decision by making it personal, but it's so stupid and far-fetched that I can't believe no editor pointed it out.

The rest of the characters are not great either - from Hodges's neighbor, Jerome, a black teenager who oddly begins speaking in Ebonics when having a dialogue with Hodges (but it's OK, since as Mr. King repeatedly points out he's very smart, and a future student of some ivy league school) through Holly - a slightly odd and neurotic female character, to the Mercedes Killer himself, who is the biggest disappointment of all in the book. How many times are we going to deranged male psychopaths, who are nothing more than a collection of disgusting and gruesome features that writers thrown into a sack on which they write their names? You know, the usual calm types who are secretly pedophiles and sadists, most of whom were abused as children and had incestuous experiences, etc. I felt as if I was reading a Dean Koontz novel, who made a career of writing such types and has written literally dozens of books featuring this exact model of villain. Also, why do mainstream thrillers almost never have female villains with these exact characteristics? Don't female perverts, sexual predators and sadists with daddy issues exist? It would be a much different and more interesting experience to create, write and read such a character. This is a field where women are seriously underrepresented.

The story is slow and unsurprising - although I don't pretend to be an authority on suspense fiction there were no twists that I couldn't see coming from a mile away. It's also poorly plotted, as events happen and characters act in ways which are forced upon them, only to solve otherwise unsolvable situations (see spoiler). Holly, the neurotic and odd character, is also conveniently a computer genius who helps Hodges finds clues which were missed by his already smart sidekick, Jerome. How am I supposed to suspend my disbelief when I can see the author's hand on every page?

Mr. Mercedes is what I would call an unnecessary book, as it adds absolutely nothing to its author's ample oeuvre, or the genre that it sits in. To make it worse, it ends on a note which promises a sequel, and two have already been announced - but I'm not enthusiastic about them at all. Stephen King has written some of my favorite books of all time, and the second star is only from my great sympathy for his person and his work. But unless Mr. King picks up his game and spices up these stories to make them stand out from the vast crowd, I really wouldn't bother.

Profile Image for Liz.
1,959 reviews2,406 followers
July 30, 2020
Another challenge I set myself at the start of the year was to return to some authors I hadn’t read in years. Stephen King certainly fits the bill as I haven’t read anything of his in over 15 years or more. Mr. Mercedes seemed like it would fit nicely as it’s mystery, not horror.
Bill Hodges is a retired detective. One of the cases he never solved was who drove a Mercedes through a crowd of folks waiting for a job fair to open. When he gets a letter from the perk (sic) he decides to resolve the case himself. He’s helped by Jerome, an exceptionally bright 17 year old young black man that does chores for him and Janey, the sister of the Mercedes owner. And finally, Holly, Janey’s somewhat warped cousin. Holly, who gets the best line in the whole book. “Holly, what are you doing?” “Therapy.”
We also hear from Brady Hartsfield, Mr. Mercedes Man himself. I will put Brady right up there with Joe Goldberg from You, as one of the creepiest bad guys out there.
This doesn’t rank up there with The Shining or The Stand, but it’s truly engaging, with great characters. In fact, the depth of the characters impressed me the most. Well, that and a great sense of tension throughout that ratchets up as the end approaches. King also employs just the slightest hint of snarky humor. It does require a certain suspension of belief that a Ret Det would go off the rails as a Lone Ranger and hide his discoveries from his former partner.
I was shocked to find I had listened to this 14 ½ hour audiobook in just five days. That gives you an idea of how engaging this book truly is. Bring on book two!
Will Patton was a great narrator.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,399 reviews9,525 followers
July 21, 2016

*. . . and I thought the chances were at least 50-50 that I would get caught. I didn't care. And I SURE didn't know how it would haunt me afterward. I still relive the thuds that resulted from hitting them, and I still hear screams. Then when I saw the news and found out I had even killed a baby, it really came home to me what a terrible thing I had done. I don't know how I live with myself.*


That was actually just a load of bull he was feeding someone. I mean he got off on what he had done. Literally. And once again we have another reference to "Pennywise" in the book as he was wearing a clown mask that looked like "Pennywise" !!!! ♥


This "Mr. Mercedes" is beyond crazy! He is an evil genius and he works two jobs while being crazy and said genius. And God! What is with the creepy ice cream trucks! I will never get anything from an ice cream truck again! I read so many books with some crazy stuff with ice cream trucks. I do love it though. Just sayin' ☺


Bill Hodges is a retired cop and gets a letter from Mr. Mercedes. This begins the story of a cop trying to outwit a psycho. They communicate through a chat room and Hodges starts to slowly unravel who this maniac is with the help of some awesome people.

My favorite character in the book is Jerome. I loved Janey and Holly later on too. But Jerome cuts Hodges lawn and he's a super smart kid. I mean super smart. He will be able to get into any university he wants and he could already get any job in electronics he wants but he has his own ideals.

Mr. Mercedes steals Mrs. Trelawney's Mercedes and proceeds to run over a large group of people in line for jobs. Mrs. Trelawney feels guilty over this as she thinks it's her fault, that maybe she left her keys in the car and that's how he got the car. But there are so many different things that happened and the poor woman suffered for it.

Hodges meets Mrs. Trelawney's sister Janey and they get a little something going on. She has hired him to help find out more information in the case.

Hodges doesn't tell his old cop partner until the very end when all things go a little more around the bend. I keep wondering about that because he put some people in danger including young Jerome. Well, Jerome was 17/18 but still and some people did get killed.

Some of the story line about Mr. Mercedes was just horrible. He was horrible since a child, brought up horrible. Lets just say his mother probably didn't help on his becoming a wacko!

There was a point that I was getting really upset about what Mr. Mercedes was planning and then it was like karma took over. I had to say it was lovely in a morbid way. I had this feeling that was going to happen, it involved hamburger meat, but that is all I'm saying.

I liked the book and I look forward to seeing what is going to happen in the next two books. Or maybe I won't 0_0

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
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