Book Review – Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

“Life is a crap carnival with shit prizes.”

Okay, so if you look at my reading history, it’s pretty clear that I’m a Stephen King fan. I can even remember the very first Stephen King book that I read – Carrie. I picked up a paperback at a library book sale when I was about 9 (I was a pretty precocious reader) and was both horrified and fascinated.

I`ve read most of what the man has written, and there are some that I adore (The Stand, The Shining, 11/22/63, The Gunslinger series and Rose Madder being my favourites) and some that I’m very meh about (Firestarter, Cujo, some of his other early works). I’m really not sure where this book fits in that love it or not… somewhere in the middle I suspect.

I skipped this book when it first came out, but I’d been hearing good things about Finders Keepers, the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and I’m kind of weird about serial fiction – you may have noticed if you’ve read my reviews how I will even read the between-books novellas in precise order when I’m going through a series. What? This is 1.1? But I almost started 1.5! The horror!!!

Okay, so this book. I wasn’t blown away by it. It didn’t capture me and carry me away. But I did find the main character – retired police detective Kermit (Bill) Hodges to be a pretty interesting guy. I liked the way his mind worked. I liked the way he talked, the way he treated people, and the way he solved mysteries. I wasn’t that interested in the villain, who was creepy but nothing special, but Bill’s supporting cast – Holly in particular, a reclusive single 40ish woman who seems to be somewhere on the autism spectrum – were pretty delightful.

“Holly sighs. “I’m out of cigarettes, too.” “Those things will kill you,” Jerome says. She gives him a flat look. “Yes! That’s part of their charm.”

While the writing was good, it was in no way as remarkable as that I found in Revival, which I reviewed earlier this fall. There were no passages that made all the little hairs on my arms stand on end, ones that I re-read just for the pleasure of the way he put words together. But… the writing wasn’t bad either. It was perfectly serviceable and, in a way, that made sense to tell Bill Hodges tale, who is a perfectly serviceable fellow but not one you’d ever call particularly creative or artistic, like many of King’s protagonists. And I think that the use of language here in many ways played into the understanding of that character, though I think it disappointed many King readers who are used to more lyrical writing.

There were a couple of fun allusions to King’s other work, which I always find fun to discover.

“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”

“as if the cops expected the big gray sedan to start up by itself, like that old Plymouth in the horror movie,”

This is an okay book. I liked Bill enough to want to go on with the rest of the trilogy. Not a favourite and doubtful that this will be one that I re-read, as I do much of his work.

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What did you think?