King’s bid at de­tec­tive novel of­fers twist, turns

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Books - KIM CUR­TIS

Stephen King (Scrib­ner)

Mr. Mercedes is clas­sic Stephen King. Creepy, yet with real­is­tic char­ac­ters who get un­der your skin and stay there, a com­pelling story that twists and turns at break­neck speed and de­light­ful prose that, once again, proves one of the great nat­u­ral sto­ry­tellers is also among our finest writ­ers.

What’s billed as King’s first real de­tec­tive novel cap­tures the story of Mr. Mercedes, a killer son­amed be­cause he used a stolen car to plow through a group of hun­dreds stand­ing in line be­fore dawn to at­tend a job fair.

While the city is never named, it sounds like a Mid­west­ern work­ing-class “any­town” that’s seen bet­ter days. The killer escapes and be­comes the ob­ses­sion of re­tired cop Bill Hodges.

Chas­ing down Mr. Mercedes breathes new life into Hodges, who’d spent months in his La-ZBoy watch­ing bad day­time TV and con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide.

Feel­ing use­ful again, Hodges en­lists the help of his only real friend, Jerome, the scary-smart, com­puter-savvy teenager who lives nearby and cuts Hodges’ grass. Their goal: to find Mr. Mercedes be­fore he kills again.

Mr. Mercedes rises above the stan­dard de­tec­tive-cen­tric, hunt­down-the-killer crime novel be­cause of its char­ac­ters and its well-timed, un­ex­pected ten­sion.

Mur­derer Brady Hartsfield is a fright­en­ing, racist so­ciopath who has an in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ship with his mother and drives an ice-cream truck part-time. Janey Pat­ter­son, the sis­ter of the Mercedes’ owner who be­comes Hodges’ girl­friend, is feisty, tough and mod­ern. It’s like a good Law & Or­der episode where the sup­port­ing cast is as in­te­gral to the story as the main char­ac­ters.

Mr. Mercedes

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