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Mr Mercedes by Stephen King: #AToZChallenge #BookRecommendations

After long years of being away from the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m going to write about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts will be linked here.

Since I’m writing up thriller and crime novel recommendations, I’m also giving away a 50 USD Amazon Gift card, to support reading, and to help my next novel THE BLUE BAR along on its journey.

Entries involve:

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After  Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica, I bring you Mr Mercedes by Stephen King.

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King: Book Description

In the predawn hours, in a distressed American city, hundreds of unemployed men and women line up for the opening of a job fair. They are tired and cold and desperate. Emerging from the fog, invisible until it is too late, 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.

Months later, an ex-cop named bill Hodges, still haunted by the unsolved crime, contemplates suicide. When he gets a crazed letter from “the perk,” claiming credit for the murders, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, fearing another even more diabolical attack and hell-bent on preventing it.

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 eccentric and mismatched 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.

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King: Excerpt

Two motor patrol cops found the Mercedes an hour after the killings. It was behind one of the warehouses that cluttered the lakeshore.

The huge paved yard was filled with rusty container boxes that stood around like Easter Island monoliths. The gray Mercedes was parked carelessly askew between two of them. By the time Hodges and Huntley arrived, five police cars were parked in the yard, two drawn up nose-to-nose behind the car’s back bumper, as if the cops expected the big gray sedan to start up by itself, like that old Plymouth in the horror movie, and make a run for it. The fog had thickened into a light rain. The patrol car roofracks lit the droplets in conflicting pulses of blue light.

Hodges and Huntley approached the cluster of motor patrolmen. Pete Huntley spoke with the two who had discovered the car while Hodges did a walk-around. The front end of the SL500 was only slightly crumpled—that famous German engineering—but the hood and the windshield were spattered with gore. A shirtsleeve, now stiffening with blood, was snagged in the grille. This would later be traced to August Odenkirk, one of the victims. There was something else, too. Something that gleamed even in that morning’s pale light. Hodges dropped to one knee for a closer look. He was still in that position when Huntley joined him.

“What the hell is that?” Pete asked.

“I think a wedding ring,” Hodges said.

So it proved. The plain gold band belonged to Francine Reis, thirty-nine, of Squirrel Ridge Road, and was eventually returned to her family. She had to be buried with it on the third finger of her right hand, because the first three fingers of the left had been torn off. The ME guessed this was because she raised it in an instinctive warding-off gesture as the Mercedes came down on her. Two of those fingers were found at the scene of the crime shortly before noon on April tenth. The index finger was never found. Hodges thought that a seagull—one of the big boys that patrolled the lakeshore—might have seized it and carried it away. He preferred that idea to the grisly alternative: that an unhurt City Center survivor had taken it as a souvenir.

Hodges stood up and motioned one of the motor patrolmen over. “We’ve got to get a tarp over this before the rain washes away any—”

“Already on its way,” the cop said, and cocked a thumb at Pete. “First thing he told us.”

“Well aren’t you special,” Hodges said in a not-too-bad Church Lady voice, but his partner’s answering smile was as pale as the day. Pete was looking at the blunt, blood-spattered snout of the Mercedes, and at the ring caught in the chrome.

Another cop came over, notebook in hand, open to a page already curling with moisture. His name-tag ID’d him as F. SHAMMINGTON. “Car’s registered to a Mrs. Olivia Ann Trelawney, 729 Lilac Drive. That’s Sugar Heights.”

“Where most good Mercedeses go to sleep when their long day’s work is done,” Hodges said.

“Find out if she’s at home, Officer Shammington. If she’s not, see if you can track her down. Can you do that?”

“Yes, sir, absolutely.”

“Just routine, right? A stolen-car inquiry.”

“You got it.”

Hodges turned to Pete. “Front of the cabin. Notice anything?”

“No airbag deployment. He disabled them. Speaks to premeditation.”

“Also speaks to him knowing how to do it. What do you make of the mask?”

Pete peered through the droplets of rain on the driver’s side window, not touching the glass. Lying on the leather driver’s seat was a rubber mask, the kind you pulled over your head. Tufts of orange Bozo-ish hair stuck up above the temples like horns. The nose was a red rubber bulb. Without a head to stretch it, the red-lipped smile had become a sneer.

 

About the author, Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. Described as the “King of Horror”, a play on his surname and a reference to his high standing in pop culture, his books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been adapted into films, television series, miniseries, and comic books. 

Why pick up Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

Horror is King’s wheelhouse, but unsurprisingly,  it turns out he’s good with police procedurals/ crime novels. The premise grabs you–a psychopathic killer mows down 8 dead people and vanishes into thin air. Apparently astonished that he got away with it, he taunts a suicidal retired cop, who finds renewed life when he decides to accept the challenge.

I loved King’s felicity with characterization, to which he brings a horror wizard’s mastery over all things abominable. The psychotic, suffering, intense villain is a great match for the dogged detective, who assembles a motley crew of remarkable, broken, whimsical yet strong allies. Though the storyline is not wildly original, King’s voice, and the the voices of his characters, makes it memorable.

If you’re not an adrenaline thriller junkie, and enjoy a master storyteller glorying in his craft, this one is for you. I read it over a weekend on vacation at an island, but more than the seaside and the waves, I remember the machinations of the unhinged Brady’s twisted mind.


Have you read the book Mr Mercedes by Stephen King? If yes, what did you think of it? What crime novels have you read lately ?


A to Z Challenge Giveaway

 

Through the month of April,  to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m  holding this giveaway:

Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this

RAFFLECOPTER giveaway.

Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.


If you enjoyed the post,  click on any or all of the following to stay updated:

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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18 Comments

  • One my favs! <3

  • Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    I like the premise, but I don’t think I’ll be reading this one.

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: M

  • dgkaye says:

    Love your reviews Damyanti. And I so enjoy the King’s writing. But I just can’t do horror. 🙂 x

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      This is a pretty straightforward police procedural. With very few gory bits. Thanks for the kind words–these are barely reviews, just a few scattered thoughts on books I’ve read. Thanks so much for tweeting them all out!

  • I enjoyed this book as well as the sequel. The first and second books kept my attention. Interesting characters. A rather unique crime. The third and final book, I depised because King changed the genre from realistic, nuts-and-bolts investigation and crime’s method/rationale to something else. I won’t mention what kind of change he made because it would serve as a spoiler. As an author all I can add is, “Shame on you Mr. King.”

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Ah, I haven’t yet read the third in the series. If it arouses such strong feelings, maybe I should go check it out–King is a terrific creator of characters, that’s the one thing I LOVE about his writing.

  • This is one of my top 10 books by Stephen King, mainly due to the characterizations.

  • I know I am in the minority, but I don’t like/cannot read Stephen King.

  • The book sounds gory and horrifying, all right!

  • This does remind me of the lone driver who plowed through cheering folks at a Trump rally a few months ago. The similarity ends there because the whodunit was quickly solved!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      This one takes quite a while to solve, and is fiendish in its cunning at times.

  • Haven’t read King since the 80s..too dark for me

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, is always quite dark. Makes me wonder what goes on inside that very creative mind.

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