Friday, 28 November 2014

Mr Mercedes - Stephen King - evil genius

From Goodreads:

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of 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 Hartfield 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 a couple of highly unlikely 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.
My review

Those friends who know my reading tastes will know and agree with the following summary: I categorically loathe detective stories and murder investigations and what I detest even more are those which form part of a series.

So, when I found out that one of the recent Stephen Kings, Mr Mercedes, was no less than the first in a series of investigative police dramas, featuring a retired cop no less I nearly didn't even start to read it.

I'm so glad I did though - it just goes to show that superb writing style transcends genre prejudice. As usual Kings lithe ability to throw you on a speeding conveyor belt right from the first page, comes to the fore here and what this is is a gripping, taut, apprehension filled whirl.

Right at the start he introduces some characters I was really getting to like, I was rooting for them, thinking yeah its going to be interesting seeing how these guys lives pan out - then BANG! He wipes them out in a horrific and shocking crime spree that is the backbone of the story.

Meanwhile retired cop Bill Hodges sits at home watching daytime tv, getting fat and contemplating the possibility that not just his career but his whole life is over. With nothing much to live for he frets and worries over the one that got away the sick, monstrous perpetrator of one of the most horrifing crimes he ever tried to solve - and failed.

That guy was Brady Hartsfield, Mr Mercedes who ploughed a stolen Merc into a whole bunch of people killing and maiming indiscriminately. Bill doesn't know it was Brady of course he just wonders who could have don ethis and how the sicko could have eluded him and his ex partner for so long. Then a letter arrives that is about to shock Bill out of his apathy. Gradually he discovers he has got something to live for after all - revenge.

We get inside the warped and deluded brain of Brady who makes Norman Bates look like your average sweetheart by comparison. King introduces some amazing characters, who we will in turn, love or loathe but never feel apathy towards. There are his usual wry and witty flashes of laugh out loud humour and above all the tension and horror he excels at, in an out and out thriller that if it had been written by anyone else just wouldn't have worked for me.

Superb, if I loved it diehard thriller fans must surely adore it too. Stephen King you're an evil genius as devious as your characters.

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