Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King © 2015 Gallery
Brady Hartfield steals a Mercedes and uses it to commit mass murder. Then he taunts the OCD woman he stole the car from until she commits suicide. Now Hartfield is trying to taunt the retired police detective who never caught him (Bill Hodges) into committing suicide as well. Why is Hartfield such a vicious, racist, misanthrope, and how will his off-the-charts evil personality be his downfall?
That seemed the character arc throughout the first half of the book. Hartfield was an interesting, if wretched, personality. Detective Hodges was a sad sack for no particular reason I cared about, and his sidekicks, Jerome and Holly, were clichés, one a bright young minority, the other a disabled woman. Mercedes, unfortunately, focused on the heroes—Hodges and sidekicks—and less on Hartfield. King provided hints to Hartfield’s demented personality, an Oepidus relationship with his MILF alcoholic mother, and his complicity in the death of his disabled younger brother, but neither hint ever really explained Hartfield’s homicidal mania. He was just a bad guy you wanted to see defeated before he kills again. The book was, frankly, a disappointingly shallow cop drama, with a disparate team of evil-fighters ala many of other King stories. The whole thing felt lazy and formula.
Detective Hodges’ most interesting aspect was his relationship with the dead OCD auto theft victim’s sister. She was his leg out of post-retirement despair until Hartfield blew her to Kingdom Come. But Hodges’ reaction to her death was almost negligible. The story simply moved on to how the hero team could identify and thwart Hartfield’s next mass murder plot.
Mr. Mercedes is bound for my recycling bin after I run over it a few times with my Chevy.