I love mysteries and thrillers, and I thought I knew all of the established authors of books from this genre. So it was with great surprise that I discovered a three-book mystery series that began in 2014, written by Stephen King. I have not read King’s previous novels, because I’m not a fan of horror stories that involve snarling dogs or murderous cars. Give me a good ghost story any day. But I did read and review his memoir/writing textbook called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and liked it oh-so-much, despite my dislike in general of most memoirs. The book gave me a flavor of King’s writing, which is amazingly good.
Mr. Mercedes is the first in the trilogy starring retired police detective Bill Hodges. Hodges is bored to death with retirement, and sick of sitting in his chair in front of the television watching Judge Judy. He has, in fact, contemplated taking his own life.
And then he receives a letter from an anonymous person who claims it was he who drove a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of people at a job fair, killing eight and injuring many more. Hodges had worked the case after it happened, but he and his partner were unable to get a handle on the murderer before the police detective retired. The letter contains enough information that was never told to the public to make Hodges believe the sender really is who he claims.
Meanwhile, Brady Hartsfield is jonesing to have another go at murdering a crowd of people, and is waiting for the right time and event. In the meantime, he continues to send letters to Hodges containing information that leads the detective to know he is being watched.
Hodges has renewed energy as he attempts to find the murderer before he kills again.
Friends, I couldn’t put the book down. It is clear that Stephen King could write a book in any genre. I can’t wait to read the second novel in the trilogy.
Here is a link to the book.
There’s a couple of reasons why I should have hated author Stephen King’s memoir/writing textbook On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. First, I dislike most memoirs. I believe that the majority of people are just like me with lives that are pretty ordinary. Thus, I believe one must be extraordinarily full of oneself to justify writing a memoir. Second, I am in the .00002 percent of the world’s population who has never — not EVER — read a novel by Stephen King. It isn’t that I am protesting his prolificacy. On the contrary, more power to a person who can come up with that many ideas. He has written 58 novels, six non-fiction books, and some 200 short stories. And I’ve read exactly none. I just am not a fan of horror stories that involve talking cars and snarling giant dogs. I’ve loved the movies made from his books, however. Go figure.
At any rate, despite the fact that I SHOULD have hated this book, instead, I loved it.
The first part of the book is mostly memoir — his own fairly self-deprecating story of his ordinary life growing up in the 50s and 60s. It was a nostalgic walk down Memory Lane for me as in many ways, his life duplicated mine and many other Baby Boomers. But the story of his youth painted a clear picture as to why he ended up being a writer, and specifically primarily a writer of horror fiction.
The second part of the book is a writing lesson. I will freely admit that I’m a writing geek. I love grammar and vocabulary, and I mostly always have. King’s lessons were not preachy, just practical. Basically, he says, if you want to be a writer, then you must write, write, write. Find a spot where you are comfortable and write. Pay attention to life around you and write. Find someone with whom you are comfortable and let them critique what you write.
Even if you aren’t a writer and have no desire to become one, this book is an interesting look at an ordinary man during one of the best times to be a kid, and told by someone who can write one heck of a good story.
Here is a link to the book.