I was not joking when I said I'd follow up finishing Ulysses by reading a Stephen King book. And so I did. It was a good choice. It's an easy read, a quick read, with a clearly defined plot. The very antidote to Stephen Bloom & Co.
Mr. Mercedes opens with a horrific crime: an unknown assailant takes aim with a car (the Mercedes of the title) at a crowd of people waiting in line for a job fair and kills several people. He gets away with it, to the torment of Bill Hodges, a detective in the city. Hodges later retires and is profoundly depressed--until the Mercedes killer sends him a letter, taunting him. Hodges should do the responsible thing and report the letter to the police, but he can't resist the opportunity to try and hook the big fish that got away.
This is not a supernatural novel. It's all real-world, with more focus on psychological horror, kind of along the lines of King's Misery. One of the things I liked best about Mr. Mercedes is that he tells us early on who did the crime. Much of the book is spent in the killer's point of view, and we get to see all the connections that Hodges doesn't make, the near-misses. Frankly, that adds a lot more tension than if we'd only had Hodges' point of view.
This isn't one of King's best books. It's longer than it needs to be, has an eye-roller of a romantic subplot, and there are a couple of overly cute references to previous King works like It and Christine.
But if you, like I did, need a palate cleanser from something you've read, Mr. Mercedes isn't a bad choice. I liked it well enough to request the second part of the trilogy from the library. Even though, you know, trilogy.