Friday, December 1, 2017

All Terribly True - Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes is the first thriller I've read of Stephen King's, and it was solid. It was as down-to-earth authentic as all of his works are, but, if not for the darker strains in his writing, I might not have finished the book.

The Mercedes Killer is just your average Joe, with an effed up family dynamic, and decides to steal a Mercedes and plow it into a crowd of unemployed citizens. When the cop who couldn't catch him retires, Mr. Mercedes starts pulling his strings. Big mistake.

The plot is interesting because you're getting a detailed, inside look at both the retired detective Hodges's attempts to ferret out the killer before he does something even more heinous, and the killer Brady Hartsfield, who takes the bait but can take as much as he can dish. The suspense came not from not knowing the killer, but from not knowing when these two are going to have their confrontation, and whether it will be horribly too late.

Having read Pet Sematary many years ago, I know that no level of chaos or destruction is beyond King, so every sick suggestion that popped into Brady's head put me on the edge of the page. How some of his ideas turned back on him was equally disturbing, but funny all the same. And while the book was loaded with very timely observations and references that made me roll my eyes, some of them made me genuinely laugh out loud. King is nothing if not an astute observer of his world, and of human nature.

The supporting characters were well developed, and I especially appreciated the varying levels of mental dysfunction among them. All those ticks and assumptions and personalities kept the investigative aspect of the novel tight.

I may not pick up the rest of the Hodge's trilogy, but that's a function of my reading to escape my world, rather than drown in its everyday horrors. And while this is not The Shining, I don't regret reading it, either. I only wish it were further from the truth.

Rating: 4/5

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