Book review: Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes

March 19, 2021

After I finished King’s latest book ‘Later’, I was tempted to start reading something longer by King, and so started reading Mr. Mercedes. The book is very unlike the typical SK fare, with absolutely no paranormal overtones, but is instead a crime-fiction, and a decent one at that, for the most part. The protagonist(s) are recurring characters in a three book series which is supposed to culminate into a crime-fiction meets typical Stephen King supernatural horror.

Mr. Mercedes starts with a slow and plodding description of a job fair which attracts the most desperate of job seekers, a description which reminded me the opening chapter in King’s ‘The Institute’. Just as we begin to take in the possibility of a relationship budding between young Augie Odenkirk and the equally young single mother of an infant, Janice Cray, both of them along with six other luckless souls get wiped out in an instant, pulverized by a Mercedes SL 500, deliberately driven into the crowd by a deranged deviant. The next chapter shows a now retired Inspector Bill Hodges, ruing the fact that he wasn’t able to crack the Mercedes Murderer case, and Bill is not having an easy time getting used to his retired life. He is forced to lose his self-induced state of torpor, and quickly, when he receives a taunting letter from the perpetrator of the Mercedes Murders himself, and the pace of the storytelling gets an adrenaline shot. The rest of the book is about the battle of wits between Hodges and our Mr. Mercedes, a real cat and mouse struggle. While there are bits and pieces in the story that don’t mesh very well, the book is still enjoyable. While this book for me was far from a top King book, I liked it enough to start reading the next in the series, ‘Finders Keepers’. Who knows, the series might well grow on me!