Title: Mr. Mercedes
Author: Stephen King (Reader: Will Patton)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: June 2014
Length: 14 hr 22 min (436 pages)
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Audio
Reason for Discovery: Review Copy
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In the gloomy pre-dawn hours of a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of unemployed hopefuls are lined up for a job fair. Without warning, a merciless driver plows through the crowd in a roaring Mercedes. Eight people are killed; 15 are wounded. The killer escapes into the early-spring fog never to be seen from again. Until now...
Detective Bill Hodges is a battle-hardened and streetwise crime fighter originally assigned to the Mercedes killings. Now retired, Hodges has lost his way in boredom and depression craving the thrills of taking down the region’s most notorious criminals. When a disturbing letter from the Mercedes Killer arrives at his door, Hodges soon finds himself uncontrollably drawn into a cat-and-mouse pursuit with stakes beyond comprehension.
Yea for a well-written blurb! On to the review!
Before I get to my review, I feel like I need to get real with all of you folks. I didn't read the book blurb very closely, and I was expecting this book to have some SF&F elements to it. I was a bit surprised when I discovered that the story was a crime thriller. I knew that King has written some crime thrillers in the past, so the fact that there were no supernatural elements to Mr. Mercedes didn't seem too crazy. I quickly reset my expectations and moved on. If you are expecting a book similar to Carrie or Christine, you will be disappointed.
Although Mr. Mercedes was a mixed bag for me, there were several things that I enjoyed. First, the characters were not perfect. Both Detective Hodges and the killer made several mistakes during the book. The majority of the mistakes seemed like perfectly reasonably things for people to do (e.g., ignore clues that we as readers know are vital). There were a few mistakes that the characters did that made me want to yell at them; however, even these mistakes felt reasonable for someone to do (when you are a reader, you always expect Chekhov's gun). The second thing that I really enjoyed about this book was all of the technobabble. I must admit that I don't know if King invented a lot of the techno stuff, but it sounded believable. I liked having a crime that involved the Internet and communicating with people anonymously online. The story just felt very relevant to how the world works today. On the flip side, I guess a story like this will probably get dated very quickly.
Although there were many things that I enjoyed about this book, there were several elements that I found troubling. The main issue I had with the book was the killer. The killer just didn't feel consistent. On one hand, he was not mentally stable, but on the other hand, he was able to complete very complex crimes and get away with them. I had a hard time believing that this character could do all of the things he did and still remain hidden from the police. I was also not a fan of the weird sexual abuse he had suffered. Yes, his background is true to life for many people, but it still felt a bit stereotypical and unoriginal. The stereotypical feel was not just a problem for the killer. The majority of the characters felt a bit flat to me. This issue could be just a trope of the genre though. I do not read a lot of crime thrillers, so my expectations are probably a bit skewed.
I wish I could say that I couldn't stop listening to this book, but I have to be honest and I found it a bit boring. I am not sure if that is the fault of the reader or the book itself. I found myself making excuses as to why I could listen to music instead of Mr. Mercedes. This rarely happens for me.
Audio: Will Patton did a great job with tone, inflection, and the voices. I have listened to a few books recently in which the reader didn't seem to know that a sentence was going to end with a question (or a command). Patton appeared to be very comfortable with the text and knew where all the dialogue was going. My only complaint was that the book felt a bit slow, and I am not sure if this is because Patton's pacing was a bit slow. I will have to listen to more books read by him to see if this was a book dictated choice or if he is just a slow reader. In any event, I see myself listening to more books by him in the future.
Overall, I enjoyed this book enough that I finished it. Mr. Mercedes did not blow me away; however, I am not a big crime thriller reader. I think if I enjoyed this genre more, I would have really enjoyed Mr. Mercedes.
I give this book a 3 out of 5.