This book begins with a nice interaction between two characters that you think are going to be main characters in the story. But it’s a trick!! They are dead by the end of the first chapter, as the antagonist of the story plows into a group of jobless people, waiting in a line at a convention center, before dawn, desperate for a job. The deed is done in a grey Mercedes, stolen from a wealthy woman in a wealthy part of town, hence the name, “Mr. Mercedes.”
Bill Hodges is now a retired cop, but was on the case of the Mercedes killer before he retired. He and his partner were unable to solve the case. But, soon after his retirement, as Hodges sat, mindlessly watching TV, debating suicide, he receives a letter. The letter is allegedly from the killer. But it has the opposite effect that the killer desired. Instead of eventually driving Hodges to go ahead and pull the trigger, the letter creates a drive in him, motivating him to, rather illegally, mind you, begin investigating the case with fresh vigor.
Mr. Mercedes is not, in my opinion, a typical King novel. Sure there is plenty of action and language, but there is nothing overtly supernatural in this tale. Brady Hartfield, aka Mr. Mercedes, is simply a crazy man, living with his mother (and there is a rather disturbing relationship there, I might add). This novel is pure thriller. Not much of a mystery, because we, the faithful readers, know who perpetrated the crime early in the book. It is simply a race against time as Hodges, along with his landscaper Jerome, work to solve this case. There are many tense moments, several of which you see coming, and are helpless to prevent. There were several times that I sat up straight and said, “OH, NO!” because I knew what was coming. One of those times, it was heartbreaking.
The description of the book says that it is “Bill Hodges Trilogy #1.” I find that to be rather exciting, because I enjoyed it immensely, and would definitely like to see more of Bill Hodges. Hopefully, Jerome will still be around to help him.