Synopsis: In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, 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.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
Brady Hartsfield 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 two new, unusual 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.
As is usually the case, I enjoyed Mr. Mercedes even more upon rereading it. That's not to say I didn't like it the first time around — I certainly did — but when a new book drops by one of the authors I follow religiously (Stephen King chief among them) I tend to devour the new work whole, often finishing in only a single day. Because of that, many details pass me by — hence why I reread books so much.
Mr. Mercedes is the first book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and it sets things up masterfully. Since I now know the synopsis of End of Watch (coming in one week!), it makes the character development of all involved — especially Brady, the baddie — so much more delicious to behold in this story. Brady Hartsfield is simply one of the nastiest villains King has ever created. *shiver* The scene involving Frankie (you know the one if you've read this book) is among the most heartbreaking in all of King's oeuvre. I was gutted the first time I read it, and my reaction was only more intense the second time around.
What makes this novel so fun to read is the interactions via the Internet between Bill Hodges and Brady. This is a chase novel — not a mystery, really, aside from not knowing what Brady will do next — and it's so entertaining seeing it all unfold. Bill — a retired cop — is a character I didn't really care for the first time reading this, but I liked him more during the second read. I'm certainly glad I warmed up to him, since the trilogy revolves around him and all!
This is a fun, edge-of-your-seat thriller not quite like anything else by King (except for Finders Keepers and End of Watch, I suppose). Once the reader hits page 250 or so, he or she will not be able to put the book down until it's finished. I docked off half a star for some of the wonky, unbelievable dialogue (Jerome's jive-talk drives me up the wall), but everything else is done right. This one is King trying new things, something he seems to be more and more willing to do as he gets older — which I am extremely thankful for, as a reader. If you're looking for a highly enjoyable summer thriller, you could do much worse than the Bill Hodges trilogy . . . starting with Mr. Mercedes.