REVIEW: MR MERCEDES / AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING / PUBLISHER: HODDER & STOUGHTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Horror is in the eye of the beholder; what one person might find disturbing, another might not. It’s all a question of tastes and sensibilities. Stephen King probably knows this more than any person living, dead or undead. Thus, although most celebrated for his out and out horror novels, he also drops the occasional what can only be loosely described as suspense thriller in for good measure. And these are every bit as memorable and disturbing. Non-supernatural horror, in other words. Really, ask yourself – who’s the more frightful, 'Salem’s Lot’s Barlow stalking you, or Misery’s Annie Wilkes nursing you?
Mr Mercedes is right up there with Misery in the thriller stakes. The title refers to a killer, who one day, steals a high end Mercedes Benz and uses it to plough into a queue of people waiting for the doors of a job fair to open. A random, senseless killing and maiming of innocents by the true face of evil, a baby-faced mother’s boy (in more ways than one) who just wanted to know the power of ending the lives of others. No fangs, no scales, no claws – just plain old Brady Hartfield, an ordinary misfit working two jobs. It could be the guy next door.
And for his next trick, a few months later, he wants to goad the now retired investigating cop whose life has become an increasingly miserable, depressing and pointless drudge of daytime TV, convenience food and staring down the barrel of a pistol into committing suicide.
However, retired detective Bill Hodges is up for a challenge and the hunter and hunted switch roles in a story that becomes increasingly urgent. King’s talents as a storyteller for the ages haven’t shown themselves to be this sharply honed for a few years, as he concentrates more on plot and exposition at the welcome expense of the overly drawn-out character building which slows down so many of his books.
Highly recommended as THE must-read of the summer.
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