Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Click to visit Stephen King’s website.

I commented several times this year on how I thought Stephen King was the king of storytelling … and then I read Mr. Mercedes.


Detective Bill Hodges doesn’t want to admit he’s bored and finds life meaningless six months into retirement. He’s old, overweight, divorced and his only friend is the African-American teenager who cuts his lawn, Jerome Robinson. Little does Hodges realize that Brady Hartfield, the mastermind behind his greatest unsolved case is going to bring him abruptly out of retirement. After receiving a strange letter from Mr. Mercedes, Hodges secretly begins re-investigating the crime, seeing the case from a new perspective. Meanwhile, Brady Hartfield is hidden in the shadows watching him. Brady initially wanted to play around with Hodges, but when the Ret-Det keeps turning the tables on him, he grows angry and vengeful. He wants to make Hodges pay for mocking him and plans one last massacre so he can go out with a bang. With the help of Jerome, and the anxiety-ridden, Holly Gibney, Hodges pieces together Brady’s steps from the City Centre Massacre to his next act of terror. He knows the clock is ticking and Brady must be stopped before more innocent lives are destroyed.

Mr. Mercedes slowly builds into a riveting story that had me turning pages all the way to the exciting climax of the story. I wouldn’t consider this a hard-boiled detective novel as they are promoting it, but it’s certainly a good thriller.

I would have considered Mr. Mercedes a good book, but there were a few negatives that brought my opinion of the book down. For example, the fact that Hodges is white and Jerome is black seemed to come up in almost every scene they shared for two-thirds of the book. Jerome’s constant use of slave vernacular was painful and irritating.

Overall, the characters in Mr. Mercedes are not that interesting and don’t have any significant qualities. Hodges was a nice guy, a good cop and, therefore, pretty generic. Jerome was unbelievable as the Harvard-bound, handsome teenager who has nothing better to do than hang out with an old cop.  Don’t get me started on Holly. I was shocked to discover she was even supposed to be an important character. As for our villain, Brady Hartfield; he does evil things in the story, but was more loathsome than scary. He’s got mother issues. He’s angry at the world, looking for attention and using technology as his weapon of choice. Been there, read that.

After reading some very good books lately, it was disappointing to discover how much this book was lacking. I’m surprised to hear that Mr. Mercedes is the first book in a trilogy because there’s not much here worth three books. I still think Stephen King is a masterful storyteller. But as much as I’m a fan, I highly doubt I will read the rest of this series. I think I’ll go back and read some of his older books instead.

2.5/5 Stars


8 comments on “Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

  1. janceewright
    June 26, 2014

    I’ve been seeing this around a lot lately – since it’s one of his newer books, I thought it would be an okay place to start. I’ve never read anything by Stephen King, so I don’t even know where to jump in. What would you suggest?


    • ebookclassics
      June 26, 2014

      I would start with some of his classics like Carrie or The Shining. Have you seen any movie adaptations of his books?


      • janceewright
        June 26, 2014

        Only Misery. I am a wimp when it comes to supernatural/horror films, although I can handle the books just fine.


  2. Naomi
    June 26, 2014

    Thanks for the warning. If I pick up SK any time soon, I will stick to his older books. It’s good there are lots to choose from! Too bad it wasn’t great. It’s always a bummer to read a disappointing book.


  3. ebookclassics
    June 26, 2014

    I had a long break from his books, so I have lots of catching up to do too. I think I would like to read 11/22/63 or The Green Mile if I was going to pick an older book. Do you have any favourites?


  4. Priya
    June 27, 2014

    Joyland was supposed to be a hard-boiled crime too; I guess it’s too much to expect SK to stick to just one genre! But Stephen King and uninteresting characters? I can’t think of anything that’d surprise and disappoint me more. :-/


    • ebookclassics
      June 27, 2014

      I forgot Joyland was supposed to be a hard-boiled crime novel too. How could I forget with that cover? Unfortunately, I did find the characters in Mr. Mercedes fairly blah. Hodges is definitely not a hard-boiled detective. He reminded me of a grandpa (or my dad!) trying to solve the case.


  5. DoingDewey
    June 30, 2014

    I’m with you on this one. There was some suspense, but overall this was flat and predictable.


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