Sunday, August 24, 2014
I'm not sure exactly why I decided to read what I believe is his latest Mr. Mercedes, but I am glad I did. The protagonist of the book, a recently retired detective, could easily be played by Clint Eastwood, even though the two bear no physical resemblance. Older, alone, and out of shape, Bill Hodges may be suffering from depression as his life revolves around daytime television. When he receives a letter from the man claiming credit for a mass murder, driving into a line of people who've been waiting since before dawn for a job fair, Hodges doesn't react the way the so-called Mercedes killer hopes he will. Instead of goading Hodges to commit suicide, the letter gives him a sense of purpose.
King also introduces his three dimensional characters to what might otherwise have been a formulaic detective story. Stubborn but self-deprecating, the "ret det" manages to find unlikely romance, he builds his friendship with Jerome, an Ivy League-bound African American teenager who, in addition to helping with his yard work, also serves as his techie. They also help to look beneath the surface of Holly, an emotionally unbalanced, childlike forty-something, allowing her to use her prodigious skills to help solve the crime before Mr. Mercedes can kill again.
The plot itself has a cinematic pace, but the interpersonal relationships, and especially Hodges' recognition of the human tendency to misjudge people who are simply unlikeable give the novel layers that appeal to pickier readers. The real horror in this story is the realization that evil may lurk within those who, on the surface, look the more normal and ordinary.
Posted by Nancy at 4:00 PM