Mr. Mercedes * Stephen King

A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who’s haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular – the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out.


It is a riveting cat-and-mouse suspense thriller about a retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies who race against time to stop a lone killer intent on blowing up thousands.

Retired homicide detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular: in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of desperate unemployed people were lined up for a spot at a job fair in a distressed Midwestern city. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. Eight people were killed, fifteen wounded. The killer escaped.

Months later, on the other side of the city, Bill Hodges gets a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening. Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he is indeed preparing to kill again.

Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, must apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even 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.

Rich people can be generous, even the ones with bloodcurdling political views can be generous, but most believe in generosity on their own terms, and underneath (not so deep, either), they’re always afraid someone is going to steal their presents and eat their birthday cake.

Constant Readers will find one or two Easter Eggs to King’s earlier work, this feature becoming more prominent in his writing since he used the device as a plot staple in his Dark Tower books. They’re enjoyable nods, self indulgent, and yet they made me smile.

I shan’t give too much plot away, only to say that while there are no bumps in the night to be found here, Stephen King is still one of the very best character writers that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I was fully invested in every single one of the characters in this book. Even without the horror. Maybe King’s secret has been that the horror is only felt, because his character work is so good.

This is a sublime work of fiction, and I devoured it in an evening/following morning session. Utterly recommended to fans of King, and a very good place to start for the King-curious, without getting bogged down in the minutiae of his Dark Tower-centric earlier works.

%d bloggers like this: