Culture & Criticism Since 2003
I got a copy of Mr Mercedes from a friend, along with the following note: “I have always had a love/hate relationship with Stephen King. King’s early novels and short stories tended to be well written with just the right blend of horror and funk. Then, Mr. King became a writing machine and his output became hit or miss. […] I was not overly optimistic.
“Once again King proved me wrong. Mr Mercedes reminds me of his earlier works. I also suspect that he may have fallen off the wagon because this book is dark. I mean deep, deep, dark like the vacuum of space.”
Well, King excels at ‘dark’. Regular readers of King have as many different words for ‘dark’ as Inuit tribes supposedly have for ‘snow’. Grim, sick, disturbing, bleak…
…and spellbinding. The quality of King’s work has varied, but he always has that ‘gotcha’ moment. You keep reading, because this is a King story, and there’s no reason to suppose the two planes are going to swerve at the last minute and miss each other, and certainly no reason to suppose that all (or even any) of the ‘good guys’ are going to be alive by the time to get to the back cover and find a picture of King laughing his ass off at you because he’s done it to you again.
In this one, a retired cop and his unlikely companions are on the trail of a mass murderer who may be planning to strike again, on a much grander scale. Sounds formulaic if not trite, but it isn’t. This is King.
I advise to avoid reading it in the dark if you want to sleep afterward.
Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent his formative years living in various parts of Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia before finally moving to the United States, where he has lived for over 40 years. Aside from writing, his interests include hiking, raising dogs and cats, and making computers jump through hoops. His wife of 25 years edits his copy, and bravely attempts to make him sound coherent. Reach him through The Electric Review.