Book Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
So being a huge Stephen King fan I was a little tentative to read this series as I have heard there is no eerie horror as per Kings usual books. I love the weird and uncanny knack King has for the supernatural phantasmal story telling. Mr.Mercedes is more of a mystery, detective novel which I found positively satisfying. Spoiler alerts ahead
This story follows retired detective Bill Hodges. Bill’s last unsolved case was the ‘Mr. Mercedes killer’ who drove a stolen mercedes car into a crowd of people waiting in line at a job fair. Right off the bat people die a gruesome dead, hello Stephen King!! The ‘killer’ Brady then contacts Bill via letter taunting Bill to kill himself the way the owner of the mercedes did….suicide! Bill then goes on a self fulfilling mission to solve his unsolved mystery and bring the killer to justice all while still being retired.
We identify that Brady is a regular Joe character who lives with his mother and has quite an inappropriate mother-son relationship. From this relationship we see the sick and twisted mind that can kill innocent people using a car as a weapon. As the case unfolds and we see more of Brady’s childhood. I found as the reader I couldn’t completely blame him for being the way he is. His mother replaced her husband with her son in every aspect. She even killed her youngest son with the help of Brady, nauseating much. This brings up the time old question are killers born a killer or made into a killer by their environment, nature vs nurture.
The fact that Stephen King made the killer just a regular Joe who was also the icecream man is a great move. This made me feel very uneasy about my own neighbourhood. The fact that anyone has the potential to be a killer, even the people we least expect is what hysteria is born from.
There is a recurrent theme throughout this novel of cyberterrorism and cyber crime. I think this topic is completely relatable to the real world where everyone’s information can be found on the internet. We live in a time, like Jerome states to Bill, where personal information security on the internet is more coveted than gold or diamonds. We see how easy it was for Brady to find Olivia’s (owner of stolen mercedes) information and contact her so he can slowly torment her into a swirling madness that only suicide can break. Psychological anguish being one of King’s specialities. We see this translate into a modern day problem with the recent facebook scandal.
Bill collects 2 ‘partners’ along his investigative journey. The first unlikely partner is his next door neighbour and handyman Jerome. Jerome is still in highschool but Bill finds his knowledge of computers and unwavering loyalty invaluable in bringing in the ‘perk’. Haha couldn’t help it. I really enjoyed the loyalty a teenager feels to his neighbour. The second, and my favorite, partner turns out the be Olivia and Janey (olivia’s sister) niece Holly. She definitely has some psychological issues but after seeing Janey blown up she tries to overcome this to help bring justice for her 2 Aunts. To put the characters into context Janey hired Bill to investigate the mercedes killer because she suspected he pushed her sister Olivia into suicide. They developed a romantic relationship. The day of Olivia’s funeral Brady was going to kill Bill by blowing him up in his car but Janey decided to drive instead and boom she’s dead. Another typical King trademark is that no character is safe, especially the main characters.
One thing I found extremely entertaining and a nice surprise is Kings easter eggs he scatters throughout the book. These eggs are mentions of his own books within this book, brilliant. He mentions the book Christine when he is describing the cops finding the mercedes in an alleyway and parked behind it stating it looked like the car was going to come alive like ‘in the plymouth car book’. Totally Christine reference. Another Easter egg was when he mentioned was the killer wore a clown mask for the killing – definitely an It reference!
One other part of the book that screamed King was a quote near the beginning of the book. It talks about this hole in Iceland that is known for being extremely deep and goes on to say compare some souls as being so deep that you drop a stone and you never hear it splash. Here he is describing the souls of killers but I also think this can be paralleled to some of Stephens King’s books. They are just so unsetting and eerie that their ‘evil’ soul is just as deep and empty as this Iceland hole.
If anyone has read Mr. Mercedes and has any other comments or views I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment! How did you like this book compare to King’s other books?