Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

This is Stephen King's most recent novel and his first (and hopefully only!) crime/detective novel. The protagonist is Bill Hodges, a 62 year old retired, overweight former detective who now spends his afternoon watching daytime television and contemplating using his father's gun on himself until he gets a letter from the infamous Mercedes killer. The killer had, the year before, driven a grey Mercedes into a group of people who were waiting for a job fair to begin, killing 8 and injuring many more. The killer had gotten away and the case was one of the active ones when Hodges retired from the police force. The letter rejuvenates Hodges in a way that the killer perhaps never intended, motivating him to start his own private investigation and solve the case before the killer strikes again.

I understand that Stephen King has had a long and deep love for crime fiction - he has said it over and over again through the years. And lately, he's tried to branch out somewhat successfully with his book on JFK and Joyland, a coming of age tale. I genuinely liked what the MErcedes killer represented- a plausible bad guy who is unremarkable in his own way and could be anyone; he is a man that has a tenuous at best grasp upon reality and his own mental health. He can't stand the world that he lives in because of the circumstances that have occurred to him. However, the plot and the story itself was not in anyway unique: it was like every other crime novel that has ever been written and was utterly predictable. The characters were also really predictable and cookie-cutter: the maverick detective, his sidekick (a young person) and a family member that is a member of the family that has been influenced by the events of the killer). In general, King's latest novel is nothing special because it's like every other crime/detective novel that has come out with the exception that it has been written by Stephen King.

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