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Mr. Mercedes : a novel

by by Stephen King

Publishers Weekly In this suspenseful crime thriller from megaseller King (Doctor Sleep), ex-detective Bill Hodges is settling badly into his retirement. Then he receives a taunting letter from someone who claims to be the Mercedes Killer-the media's name for the hit-and-run driver who, a year earlier, deliberately plowed a stolen car into a crowd at a job fair, killing eight and maiming 15. Hoping to wrap up the unsolved case, Hodges follows the letter writer to an anonymous social media chat site, inaugurating a game of cat and mouse with escalating stakes and potentially fatal consequences. Bill's antagonist is Brady Hartsfield, a sociopath who is skilled in computers and electronics and who-with a touch of brilliant irony-also operates the neighborhood ice cream truck. Coincidence and luck figure significantly in the final outcome, but King excels in his disturbing portrait of Brady, a genuine monster in ordinary human form who gives new meaning to the phrase "the banality of evil." Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill Literary Agents. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal After having written over 50 horror, sf/fantasy, and suspense novels, King pens his first hard-boiled detective thriller. A maniac accelerates a Mercedes into hundreds of unemployed applicants lined up at a job fair-killing eight and wounding 15. Det. Bill Hodges, a streetwise inspector, searches unsuccessfully for the Mercedes killer. After he retires, the bored detective receives a crazed note from the lunatic driver, Brady Hartfield, who promises to strike again in an even more diabolical manner. Hodges's talented and eccentric assistants unravel Brady's convoluted computer records revealing when he intends to drive a wheelchair strapped with eplosives into a concert arena jam-packed with screaming teenyboppers. VERDICT King's customary use of bizarre events and freakish characters does not provide a credible basis for this detective novel. Also, he encumbers the plotline with insignificant details, causing his thriller to plod along rather than pulse with the tension and suspense often characteristic of detective fiction. [Prepub Alert, 1/1/14.]-Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list King's interest in crime fiction was evident from his work for the Hard Case Crime imprint The Colorado Kid (2005) and Joyland (2013) but this is the most straight-up mystery-thriller of his career. Retired Detective Bill Hodges is overweight, directionless, and toying with the idea of ending it all when he receives a jeering letter from the Mercedes Killer, who ran down 23 people with a stolen car but evaded Hodges' capture. With the help of a 17-year-old neighbor and one victim's sister (who, in proper gumshoe style, Hodges quickly beds), Hodges begins to play cat-and-mouse with the killer through a chat site called Under Debbie's Blue Umbrella. Hodges' POV alternates with that of the troubled murderer, a Norman Bates-like ice-cream-truck driver named Brady Hartfield. Both Hodges and Hartfield make mistakes, big ones, leaving this a compelling, small-scale slugfest that plays out in cheery suburban settings. This exists outside of the usual Kingverse (Pennywise the Clown is referred to as fictive); add that to the atypical present-tense prose, and this feels pretty darn fresh. Big, smashing climax, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: No need to rev the engine here; this baby will rocket itself out of libraries with a loud squeal of the tires.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.