Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. New York, Scribner 2014
This is the first book of the Bill Hodges trilogy, and is the winner of the 2015 Edgar award for best novel. It is a story that could be snatched from the headlines of today’s newspapers in any city. Except that it is written by one of our most riveting masters of horror, Stephen King.
A crazed driver, Brady Hartsfield, plows a stolen Mercedes into a group of hundreds people standing in line for a job fair in the cold, still dark, morning, killing eight and wounding fifteen. He not only runs them down, but he backs up and charges them again, and again before escaping. Though the police try, he is never caught. The police originally blame the owner of the Mercedes for the crime, but she has an unassailable alibi. Then they try to blame her for leaving her keys in the car, and inadvertently aiding and abetting the assailant. She swears until her last breath that she never left her keys in the car. Hartsfield, a computer genius, hacks into her computer and posts pictures of the victims on her computer that eventually drives her to suicide.
Hartsfield, thrilled that he could get to her through the computer, gets even bigger delusions of grandeur and taunts retired police officer named Bill Hodges with threats of another attack. This one more wide-spread and more heinous than his first killing spree. Hartsfield alludes that his upcoming attack will be even bigger and better. He will kill thousands. This arouses Hodges’ regret and anger that he never caught the deranged killer, and arouses his sense of protection for a Midwestern city that has already suffered enough carnage. Charged with a purpose, a new lease on life, he quits his dolorous retirement.
Bill and his friends are always two steps behind the madman who seems to move about as air, wreaking havoc and preying on the weak and unsuspecting.
It is Stephen King at his finest.
If you like this book you may also enjoy Finders Keepers and End of Watch also by Stephen King and available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.