I was excited for the release of Mr Mercedes as soon as I saw the premise on King’s website last year. When the book came out in June, I was in the middle of reading 2 other books. Then, I started reading the review on here and they were all over the place. This caused me to hesitate and read something else hoping that there would be a more clear consensus after some more time. No such luck. The reviews spanned both ends of the spectrum. It’s great. It’s terrible. It’s only ok. Ugh. Finally, I got tired of listening to all the noise and decided to read it and decide for myself.
What I found was a great detective story with shades of the Dead Zone, Carrie and Psycho. Now, before those of you that have already read Mr. Mercedes start getting your pitchforks and torches ready to storm my house while shouting at the top of your lungs about blasphemy, let me explain. The story is a straight up detective story. If you’re waiting for something supernatural or Twilight Zone-esque to happen, you’re going to grow cobwebs waiting for it. But that shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the story. It still has the interesting characters that King can do so well. Bill is the retired detective not enjoying his retirement and stews over the murder he never solved. When a letter comes through his mail slot from the killer gloating about Bill not catching him and that he should just kill himself, this is the spark that Bill needs to get “back on the case”. Trying to solve the mystery of the unknown killer that happens to “live among us” is where it evoked a little déjà vu of The Dead Zone (minus the supernatural). The sheltered “weird” girl with the overbearing mother reminds me of Carrie (again, minus the supernatural). And, the relationship of the killer with his mother is very reminiscent of Psycho. Even the killer himself feels like someone we all know. The whole time while reading Mr. Mercedes, I had the feeling that I’ve met people like the killer and that he could truly be “among us”. Is the story original? No. Do I care? No. It was an entertaining story with good characters and plot that made you turn the pages and I enjoyed every bit of it. Now does it rank up at the top of King’s best work? I don’t know. If you’re the type of person that whines that everything King puts out these days is not The Stand or The Shining, then you’ll probably find a reason to bitch about Mr. Mercedes. If you’re simply looking for a good story told with King’s flair, pick it up and decide for yourself.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars