Friday, April 10, 2015

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King

Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy, Book 1
Author Website:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Before his retirement, Detective Bill Hodges and his partner caught the case of a lifetime. Early one morning someone decided it would be an awesome idea to drive a Mercedes through the foggy streets and into a crowd of people waiting for a job fair. As difficult as investigating such a case was, there was little evidence to lead them to the person responsible. Thus, the case remained open and active when Bill was handed his retirement award.

It wasn't until a special message arrived in the mail months after the party that Bill woke from the afternoon tv-induced coma. The person responsible for the live lost at the job fair wanted to clear his conscience to Bill, but the message also hinted that more tragedy might be in store for the people in Bill's town. That's something he couldn't have on his own conscience. Alongside two unlikely helpers Bill followed the bits of clues left by the killer until they reached the ultimate showdown with thousands of lives in the balance.

Many of my friends and relatives know of my love for books. Certain authors became my favorite over the years. Stephen King has always been one of them, a constant from an early age. There were only a few books of his that I can't read more than a handful of times. I didn't know what this book was about before it was given to me. Once I read the blurb on the back, I was hooked by a few things. Why would the killer want to mess around with a cop from his past when the killer had gotten away with murder? In reality the killer didn't escape punishment for a small number of murders, but also escaped punishment for a massive trauma to the city through the people injured and the psychological repercussions to the citizens after the event.

I was also intrigued by some of the characters themselves because the monster I needed to fear was an ordinary schmuck that could be anyone around us. They and their reactions carried this story forward without any supernatural interference or otherworldly poking and prodding. Bill Hodges remained old-school throughout the book, preferring to use pen and paper when thinking through the case or following up leads on foot when the need arose. When it came time for him to venture further into the technological world, he called upon the teenager who helped him around the house from time to time. Jerome was able to navigate the cyber world with less effort than Bill as well as help the older guy understand this generation's way of thinking. Then there was Mr. Mercedes himself, both an evil phantom and a regular guy. He was an odd blend of Bill and Jerome in the fact that he was young enough to employ the resources of today well and old enough to know that you have to put some muscle into things if they're going to work as well. In true King form, there were a number of fringe characters who provided necessary information, comedic relief and even became the voice of reason when it all became too much.

The characters weren't solidly within the good or bad guy columns either and this sort of grey area played as much a part in the book's events as the characters did. In a sense that's how people in the world are today. They had moments of goodness that made me want to cheer. Within a page, sometimes less, their actions placed them in the bad column. Whether it was morally or legally ethical, Bill and all the other characters did what needed to be done. Even when it caused further pain or distress, they didn't shy away from plans already put in place. Some of these plans pushed the story forward at a decent pace. As much as I like a lot of King's work, there were some moments that seemed to drag out the action. Thankfully, I didn't find too many of the slower passages and was pretty happy at how rapid the pace became once the ball truly began rolling.

Overall, I really liked this first step into the world of Bill Hodges. Action, a bit of romance and a lot of crazy combined quite well to make a good read. For me, that's a pretty decent recipe that I hope continues throughout the rest of the trilogy. A few doors were kept open a crack toward the end of the book which gave me chills because I had hoped things would settle. Underdogs and morally-ambiguous characters kept me intrigued in this installment. I can't wait to see what they get into during the next book. If you're looking for a thrill ride into the world of crazy with average looks or simply want to enjoy a creepy story without the supernatural flair, take a drive into Mr. Hodges' neighborhood.

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in a number of formats, including hardcover, paperback, Kindle (digital) or audio-book. The link provided below leads to the book's Amazon page.
Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King


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