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4.4 out of 5 stars1,009
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 19 August 2014
This is a real non stop, riveting read with plenty of suspense that we've come to expect from Stephen King. There's no hint of the supernatural or horror that often appears in his books, rather a straight out crime thriller. The reader is hooked from the first page, Stephen King certainly knows how to create a tense atmosphere, and also has such a good grasp on characterization. The character of ex detective Bill Hodges is well written and you feel yourself rooting for him throughout the book. Hodges is bored with his life so far since retiring, has become lazy and bordering suicidal, until he receives a letter out of the blue from somebody claiming to be the perpetrator of a crime involving the murder of 8 people who were lining up for a job fair, by driving his Mercedes into them at high speed then driving off. The crime was never solved, and this taunting letter gives Hodges a kick start into trying to solve the case, as he begins a cat and mouse style correspondence with the sender of the letter. We know from the beginning who the perpetrator is: Brady Hartsfield, a 28 year old man who lives with his alcoholic mother, who spends most of his time either at work or in his 'command centre' style basement, plotting new and manic ways of causing mass destruction.

As always in a good book, for every good protagonist there needs to be an even viler antagonist. This is definitely the case here! Brady is a misanthropic, psychotic young man, who gradually seems to get worse as the story goes on. King always has a knack at creating great villains, and Brady Hartsfield is one of them. After his initial mowing down of job seekers that begins the book, we follow his internal monologue as we are privy to his thoughts of new ways to cause mayhem, all the while engaging in back and forth correspondence with Hodges through an anonymous chat website.

The supporting characters are also well created. These include Jerome, a young black neighbor of Hodges who, like Brady, has skill with computers, who later assists Hodges. Also some tertiary characters who appear later on, such as the sister of the owner of the Mercedes used in the murder, and her cousin. The introducing of seemingly secondary characters through the main characters, and having them play a big role is a skill Stephen King has, and often uses in his novels.

I would recommend this book for any crime fans, but also for anyone who prefers King's less supernatural novels. I'm also pleased to hear this is to be the first in a trilogy featuring Hodges, so that's something to look forward to!
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on 18 December 2015
I have heard so much about this book that when I saw it in my library I knew I had to check it out. It has been a few years since I last read a book from Stephen King. It took me a while to get into this book and I am not quite sure why. I love this authors writing and his ability to bring you story like no other but it took me until about 200 pages into the book before it started to turn good for.
This story starts off where a crowd of people get ran over by a Mercedes this killer was never caught. One of the officers whose case it was has retired and still thinks about the crime from time to time. All that changes when Bill receives a letter from the suppose killer, the investigating itch is back for Bill and he is now more than ever determined to catch this killer.
It seems there is a lot of cat and mousing going on within this story between the killer and Bill and when you find out who the killer is, it makes you really think that some killers are just killers in plain sight. Which is kind of scary.
Will Bill be able to close the case? Who all will be affected by the actions of Bill when he takes this mission to capture the killer without the help of law enforcement?
We actually get into the mind of the killer and I liked to see how he worked and where he was going with things. I think the author did a great job with the "bad" guy and how he was portrayed.
There is a pretty cool scene that deals with hamburger meat I am just going to leave that there as I was just like OMG OMG WHAT!!!

Now the way this story ended has me wondering if these characters will be in the next story or do we get a new case? I guess I shall pick up book two and find out. I just hope that I get more into the story quicker with book two than I did with this one.
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on 6 September 2014
I find it irritating when Stephen King is typed as a straight up horror writer. Yes, while he is known, and rightly so, for some pretty amazing scary stories there is so much more variety in his work then he is given credit for. Take his recent novels 'Joyland' and '11.22.63,' both of which I found absolutely amazing. Mr Mercedes proves is another break from the general consensus.

I did enjoy this book and am looking forward to the next in the trilogy, but I did enjoy his other recent works more (those mentioned above, as well as Dr Sleep). I just felt that the characterisation and plot was lacking in places; Brady Hartsfield, the 'Mercedes Killer,' was clearly a smart guy. Yet I found him to be a bit of an inconsistent character, often fumbling his plans-yes, to the good luck of others but I don't read a book needing a happy ending-otherwise I wouldn't be such a fan of Stephen King's work! And Detective Bill Hodges also needed to live up a bit more to that savvy, decorated and commended cop reputation, by putting 2 and 2 together more.

Regardless of all that, and it's not intended as a negative, I did enjoy the book and wanted to see how it would end. I liked the contemporary feel of the novel regarding the recession and the crappy economy, which is something we can all relate to. All in all a very good book.
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on 28 October 2014
King's record writing non-horror or non-SF stories is mixed: Full Dark, No Stars is excellent; Blaze is okay but unmemorable; the least said about Gerald's Game, the better. So I approached this with some concern and sadly it's more Blaze than Full Dark, No Stars. Mr Mercedes is dull and plodding, and the characters are uninteresting. If a book has a thin plot, only a tight pace can save it, but this just drifts from one unmemorable scene to another. If a King book is good I usually finish it in a couple of days but I could only read short extracts of this before my attention started to drift, so it took weeks to read. If you're a fan you will likely buy everything King wriotes but if you're a new reader there are many better places to start than this one. Try instead The Stand, Salem's Lot, The Dark Half, It, Talisman or The Dead Zone.
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Strange book to review. Opening chapters are brilliant and it's here King does what he does best; creates horror out of normal situations. As that infernal Mercedes plunged into a crowd of innocents and carnage ensued I was totally hooked. What followed after was somewhat different.

I was probably a quarter of the way through the book when I was ready to put it away without finishing it. I didn't and read to the end. It's a clever novel this first 'non horror' detective fiction but it's so far from what I expected and it reads in a way that's almost comic book and ringing with cliche. It's almost a 'send up' of the real genre. The plot is spoon fed to the reader and it's just a matter of; there's the good guy and there's the bad guy - watch them as they chase one another. Who'll win?. It's almost impossible to take seriously. Retired, fat ex detective who failed to solve the original Mr. Mercedes murder does battle with an evil genius who is so completely over-the-top he'd be perfectly placed in a Batman movie.

There are glimpses of the real Stephen King from time to time. The odd few chapters when I dropped back into the plot but those moments were few and far between.

I'm leaving 4* simply because the opening chapters are pretty hard to beat. Even though Mr. Mercedes isn't supposed to be a 'horror' those chapters have some of the strongest horror elements I've read for a long time. Stephen King is an author I've read for over thirty years and he has enough of a hold over me I'll be in the queue for his next horror. Can't say the same for what I believe will be the next novel in this detective series.
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on 11 January 2016
Having read nearly every book and short story written by King I was a bit disappointed by a couple of his latest novels. They can't all be great after all. So, having read some poor reviews re this one I was prepared to be disappointed. OK, the story is a cliche, not much new here. A retired detective, bored and alone.....pitted against a fiendishly clever mass murdere who has a mother fixation. Sounds familiar? Well it is except that Kings writing brings a whole new dimension to the story, with the hero ret det and his mismatched duo of helpers racing towards a climax against the arch villain set against a background of typical American life which King writes about so well. An interesting mix of IT helps, but it is the occasional aside of really dark humour which made it for me. Really laugh out loud in places, and very clever writing. Makes you remember how good King can be!
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on 4 July 2015
Firstly, let me just say that I am a huge admirer of King's work. I count some of earliest works as the finest fiction I've ever read. But I just did not like this book.

King describes it as a hard boiled crime novel, but for me it just does not have the grit or the depth to be classed as such.

The characters are not really believable. They lack cutting edge, realism and depth. The main two, Hodges and Brody are just not well rounded enough for me to really be "in" the story. I do not get them. Characters like Janey Patterson and Jerome are really badly defined too. Some of the dialogue attributed to them is laughable and a bit cringeworthy. When Jerome "turns into" Tyrone for example, it's just awful, awful , awful.

I actually really dislike the book, though I do love King and will continue to be an advocate of his work. This story, with its weak characters and narrative strung together with cliches and innuendos, will not live long in the memory though.

Predictable and poor. Nearly didn't bother finishing it. Sorry.

Each to his own of course!
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on 6 December 2014
This is very different to the usual King stories and although I didn't give up on it I didn't necessarily enjoy it either.
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on 21 January 2015
This was my first read of Stephen King. Very disappointing. I read many reviews before buying and was expecting some twists and turns. I must be missing something but to me it was a very slow burner that was all too linear and predictable. I kept on reading expecting a twist or two but in the end it seemed to be a cross between CSI and Scooby Doo. A formulaic thriller for the masses.
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on 30 October 2015
One of the books that you know what exactly what's gonna happen but u continue to read hopped to somehow you're wrong! Like a bad 80's crime movie! The entrance was brilliant, I kinda need to mention that, other then that not what I was looking for!
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