Saturday, 10 October 2015

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King (Bill Hodges, #1) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

Who is going to be the fish in this relationship,

and who is going to be the fisherman?


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 405
Chapters: Mr Mercedes' structure follows an eclectic pattern. There are several parts to the book, and inside each part are numbered sections.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Coined 'The Best Thriller of the Year' by the Sunday Express, I'm finding it hard to disagree (not that I'm really trying).

Of course, I haven't read every thriller that was out in 2014, but it's hard to imagine most of them holding a candle to Stephen King's Mr Mercedes. Because, simply, it's one of the best detective/crime/thriller/suspense books I've ever read. The 'King of Horror' transfers his dark and gritty talents perfectly into the genre as if he's always been there.

The best detective-style novels bring the reader into the story in a way that makes them a full-fledged character. That's exactly how you'll feel reading this. From putting the pieces together to delving deep into dark minds, Mr Mercedes is a smasher. 

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Retired Detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the cases he never solved, none more so than the case of 'Mr Mercedes', who drove a car of the same name into a packed line of people.
And got away with it.
On the cusp of a breakdown, Hodges receives a letter from the enigmatic killer: A taunting piece of stationary that aims to drive him over the edge.
Instead, it fires the old detective up.
He can't trust his former cop buddies to get it done right this time, and so ensues a macabre dance to find the winner.
Both want to be the cat.
But one, inevitably, will be the mouse...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

Mr Mercedes starts off with a horrific punch to the gut, progressing into a slow-burning and riveting detective (retired) story that coalesces to form a tense and nail-biting finale. King flaunts his storytelling and emotionally manipulative muscles as we join our tortured hero as his wits are pit against a twisted villain. Both aim to destroy the other mentally, and finally physically, and their game is hooking.

There's a fantastic divvying up of time between Hodges and Mr Mercedes. King builds both up and slowly peels back their layers to see how they tick. This structure keeps the novel's forward momentum up with exhilarating results. 

There are some fantastic (if you can call blood and guts fantastic) scenes where the author's experience really forces them home. The twisty, turny trail of Mr Mercedes makes it a must for your TBR pile.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

King's thriller focuses on unravelling events in a slow, thorough fashion. We get the pieces of the jigsaw and, along with our cast, we have to find a way to slot those pieces together. The action is minimal, meaning there can sometimes be dips in the pace, but, overall, it's hard to argue with the structure.

Each scene plays a purpose, whether to push the story forward or to build upon the characters. A book that deserves to be described as unputdownable.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

A mesmerising cast of unique and exciting characters. Not one of them is a bad apple. From our two mains, Hodges and Mr Mercedes, to members like Janey, Jerome, Holly; they're all superb drivers of the story. They're more human, more whole than a lot of casts I've read. Their journeys and histories and the way they interact with one another is everything a reader needs. 

Hodges: The hero retired detective who can't let go. King depicts the very real consequences men and women of the force face once they retire or leave. Hodges feels lost, and Mr Mercedes brings him back into focus. He's a smart, capable and kind man whose only wish really is to serve and protect, at any cost.

Mr Mercedes: Evil, crazy and horrifically intelligent. He's a perfect foil for Hodges. The fact that we see from his POV gives us key insight into his character. We see his life, the peeling of his past, everything that makes him the way he his. It's scary, cringe-inducing stuff, but hooking nonetheless. 

Jerome: Hodges's young sidekick. He completes his mentor in a way. Hodges is from a different time, so Jerome's knowledge of more modern inventions is invaluable. He's also funny in a satirical way. 

Janey: Damn you, King...

Holly: This lady steals the show! Fantastically complex, but simple at the same time. My favourite character out of the lot.

There are more, but those are my highlights. An exceptional cast.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

What can I say? Just the name Stephen King promises you a masterclass in writing. It's balanced, never overdoing one thing or another. It's the kind of writing that every author or hope-one-day-to-be author (like me) dreams about being able to accomplish. 

It's smart, hits the right places and carries the story with the utmost professionalism. 

Overall - 5/5 Stars

Lucky for me this is the start of an awesome crime trilogy.

And, if you've yet to read Mr Mercedes, lucky for you. 

Pick it up!

Next Instalment: Finders Keepers

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