2014: 76. Mr. Mercedes

"Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that still ran well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of town, so he decided to take the last bus of the night."

Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King

I was going to say that this was the most recent King novel, but he's such a speed demon, I actually think he's published another since this came out.  Must be nice, huh? (or maybe not! Maybe he is driven by a punishing need to write fiction that keeps him up at night.  That would stink!).  Anyway, I'm a King girl, so before I had my last surgery I ordered this up for myself to read afterwards, knowing it would be a perfect escapist thing.  And Uncle Stevie did not let me down.  It's not as good as Dr. Sleep, but it's darn entertaining. 

This isn't really horror, per se.  Or rather, there is nothing supernatural about Mr. Mercedes, though horrible things certainly happen.  Rather it, more King's take on a noir.  Bill Hodges is a retired police detective, who is slowly letting his life go to pot, when he is contacted by someone claiming to be the perpatrator of his most unsettling unsolved crime.  Known as Mr. Mercedes, the killer drove a car through a crowd of unemployed job seekers, killing eight.  Now Mr. Mercedes is contacting Bill, taunting him.  From there it becomes a cat and mouse, etc.  Your classic psychopath type murder mystery (and Mr. Mercedes, who we learn right at the beginning is a ostensibly mild-mannered chap named Brady Hartfield, is really, really psychopathic).  But what saves it from run of the mill is two things - one, just the great King-ness of it.  I always have and continue to love the way he creates characters, and these are no exception.  And, what is also fun (and I will be the first to admit I got this from some review I read, but once I heard it I couldn't unthink it), is how he fools around with the noir tropes.  HERETHERE BE SPOILERS, if only vague ones.  The novel starts with a lone male detective against the world - and ends with the day being saved by a disabled woman and a black male teen.  It seems to me like the further he gets from noir, the more successful Bill is.  And that's a pretty neat trick!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017