Full disclosure; I would not have finished this book had I not promised to review it. That said, I did end up enjoying it—somewhat.
Let me explain. Being a Stephen King fan, I began this novel with high hopes. The reviews were good and the premise intriguing: a stolen Mercedes plows through a line of job applicants waiting to enter a job fair, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The crime is never solved. Retired police detective Bill Hodges receives a letter from the Mercedes driver, and the hunt is on. Good escapist read over break, right? Wrong, save for the last few chapters.
Before I was half way through the book, I realized that I did not like anyone enough to care what happened to them. King usually delivers believable, fully fleshed-out characters. But Bill Hodges, his friend Jerome and assorted other supporting members of the cast were predictable and one-dimensional.
Ironically, the doomed job applicants we meet in chapter one felt much more realistic. I was sorry they met their terrible fates.
Also, the pacing of the novel, even for King, was excruciatingly slow. I found myself exhorting everyone to just get on with it, already.
Then two things happened around the last quarter of the book that made me want to finish the story. Holly, a background player in the action begins to blossom after a tragedy involving her cousin and all of her weirdness makes her more relatable, interesting and human. I wanted to find out what happened to her.
And the pace of the action finally, finally picked up. Was the crazy Mercedes driver going to strike again at the convention center, where thousands of tweens have gathered for a concert? Or is the local mall his next target? And has he perfected a much more effective method of annihilation? This last part of the book was the best. It’s too bad most of the beginning and middle didn’t measure up.
I don’t recommend this book unless you find yourself with absolutely nothing else to read (or you’ve promised to review it, alas). If you’ve never read anything of King’s please don’t start with “Mr. Mercedes.”