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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Review and quotes: MR. MERCEDES

Title: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Book Beginning quote:

Friday56 quote:

Summary: Bill Hodges is an overweight, retired cop with too much time on his hands. Daytime TV is about his only activity. His inertia has caused him to reflect on his life and has found it lacking. Maybe he should just do himself in. He has a gun, after all. Then one day he gets a letter in the mail from the Mercedes killer, one of the few cases unsolved at the time of his retirement. In it the killer taunts Hodges and encourages him to commit suicide. Suddenly Hodges has a renewed raison d'etre-- to catch the SOB. He can't do it himself, however, and he doesn't want to report what he knows to his old friends at the police station, so he gets help from two unlikely people---his seventeen-year-old neighbor and Holly Gibney, the cousin of his first client, Janey Patterson. The trio succeed against all odds.

Review: I wouldn't call myself a Stephen King fan. I just can't read horror fiction because I get too frightened. When I read a review of Mr. Mercedes by Sue at Book by Book I thought that it sounded like a King book I could read---a mystery with a old cop as the private eye. I read somewhere that the Bill Hodges trilogy, of which Mr. Mercedes is the first book, is King's first foray into the mystery genre. I don't know that for a fact, but if it is there is now proof that Stephen King can write anything if he wants to and write it well.
      The first half of the book is populated mainly with Bill Hodges and his initial detective efforts, and with Brady, the psychopathic Mercedes killer who is clearly upset that Hodges doesn't want to kill himself. We learn a lot about both characters and what makes them tick. At one point Hodges is given a fedora by his client. He is told to wear it with a jaunty dip. The hat seems to be a literary nod to all the old time private detectives of previous generations like Philip Marlow in The Big Sleep. At about the midway point in the book the fedora is burned up. From that point forward King takes the plot on a different trajectory, as if he is saying goodbye to his old counterparts who wouldn't have taken the plot to such extremes in the early days of the genre. In Mr. Mercedes, Bill Hodges starts to shrink while his other protagonists grow. Holly Gibney is a quirky, off-beat character and an unlikely hero. Her role in the book was especially refreshing and I hope to meet her again in another King book, maybe the second book in this series.
     My husband, daughter, and I listened to the audiobook version of Mr. Mercedes as we traveled to a family gathering last week. It is expertly read by Will Patton, a favorite audiobook voice actor. He has a deep, gravely voice which adds texture to the written word. Before we left on the trip I had cued up three audiobooks for us to choose from. The three of us settled on Mr. Mercedes because Stephen King is known for his riveting writing. And, boy, was it riveting. By the time we got home we still had over two hours of the book left to finish. Our daughter finished listening on her plane ride back to San Francisco. Don and I sat in our family room together listening with rapt attention to the book's climax and conclusion. I had to laugh when I saw this quote from the review in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, "A full-throttle sprint to the finish; the last eighty pages cannot be doled out over multiple reading sessions. You'll have to swallow them in one gulp." That was us, swallowing the last of the book in one gulp, listening to it late at night in a darkened room. We were pretty sure that Bill Hodges would live--he has a sequel with his name on it--but we had no idea what would happen to everybody else. Gulp!
     Now that I'm a fan of the Bill Hodges trilogy I should note that there is a TV series about him. Guess I'd better check that out, too. After, that is, I read the next two books in the series.

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Mr. Mercedes qualified for this challenging with 431 pages



  1. I enjoy reading mysteries and this one by Stephen King sounds good.

  2. Stephen King is an excellent writer and I love mysteries. I'll have to try this series out!

  3. This sounds really good. I've read some of King's books and loved them - but not this one!

  4. Hi Anne,

    I too haven't read a Stephen King book for many years, although I was an avid fan of his early horror stories. I think I was a little put off when King went through his 'Dark Tower' phase of writing, which didn't appeal to me at all.

    I have seen Mr. Mercedes mentioned before, but have never bothered checking out the Bill Hodges trilogy in any detail. I actually read every word of your post today though, did some extra research and have now added the three books to my list.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope that your family get together was amazing, after being locked down for so long :)

    Yvonne xx

  5. Now you have piqued my interest! I do like mysteries, but horror, not so much. I have also read a Stephen King book that was more mystery than horror; in fact, it was time travel. (11/22/63).

    Now I must check this one out. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  6. Hi Anne! I loved this series! I've read all three and we are currently watching the series. We are on season 2 now. Great book to feauture!

    Hope you will have a good weekend, here's my Weekend Book Friends

    1. My husband was pretty pleased when he heard about the TV series. I'm sure we will watch it sometime.

  7. Another Stephen King novel I haven't read ... yet. :)

  8. I haven't read a Stephen King book because I usually avoid horror, but I love mysteries so I'll have to check this one out. Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend! :)

  9. I need this book in my life!! Happy weekend!

    1. I love it when someone recommends a book that I want to read. I am glad I have a recommendation for others today.

  10. I was also hesitant at first to read these mysteries by Stephen King, but I really enjoyed them as well. I like his book On Writing, too.

    1. I read On Writing many years ago, not long after he was nearly killed in a car/pedestrian accident.

  11. I have this one on my wishlist. It really looks like a good Stephen King. I haven't read one of his in a long time.

  12. I've only read 'Salem's lot by Stephen King, which I absolutely loved. I'd like to read more from him later. Thanks for sharing this review, it's great you enjoyed Mr Mercedes.

    Ronnie @ Paradise Found

  13. Ooooooh I love the sound of this one! I've watched the movies based off King's books and they're all really good! Obviously I need to finally start reading his books!!!

  14. I also don't do well with horror so avoid King's books, but this one was so good! I'm glad you liked it as much as I did.

  15. Great review, Anne! As you know, I also enjoyed this novel this summer. I didn't notice the symbolism of the fedora, though - that was very observant of you!

    King has written other books outside of the horror genre, so his ability to write ANYTHING well is actually well-established :) He just has a way of describing characters and their actions so realistically that you are pulled into the story.

    Have you read 11/22/63 by King yet? If not, you must! It is historical fiction with a touch of time travel and is outstanding.

    I had forgotten that the Mr. Mercedes trilogy was being made into a TV series - do you recall which network/service? I remember it was something we don't have, but I would love to see it now!

    Glad you and your family enjoyed the book - King audios are outstanding for road trips!


    Book By Book


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