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Sweet N' Sour Mini-Review: Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes

The stolen Mercedes emerges from the pre-dawn fog and plows through a crowd of men and women on line for a job fair in a distressed American city. Then the lone driver backs up, charges again, and speeds off, leaving eight dead and more wounded.

Mr. Mercedes is a 2014 crime novel written by Stephen King and published by Scribner. This is the first book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. It is followed by Finders Keepers. The novel was adapted into a TV show called Mr. Mercedes that ran for three seasons. No other adaptations have been announced.

"Never tell a lie when you can tell the truth."


Bill Hodges is in a bad place. He is a retired detective that lives alone in front of his TV. While considering suicide, he receives a letter from the Mercedes Killer, the man who ran a silver Mercedes into a crowd of people, killing eight of them. An unsolved case is Hodges' calling, and he assembles a team of three unlikely heroes to catch this killer before he strikes again.


Mr. Mercedes is a hard book to judge. There are some great moments, but there are also some moments where the story drags quite a bit. Bill Hodges' character is very interesting and he has a splendid character arc. It is dark, sad, and redeeming, making the payoff of the book very satisfying. Brady Hartsfield is a terrifying antagonist. His character descriptions and his actions are immensely disturbing and scary. King did a solid job of leaving elements of his horror genius in this novel, and you see glimpses of this in the story. The climax is absolutely thrilling and exciting. There are a couple of shocking moments that make your jaw drop. But then there is the schlog that is between pages 100-250. In a 400 page book, it is a problem when there is basically nothing happening in the middle. There is a big moment that happens in the dead middle of the novel, and then it takes off. But the pacing of the book is way off. It starts off at this crazy fast pace. We get right into the action. Then it just screeches to a halt and slows down in the middle of the book. It seems unbalanced. The beginning is fast and doesn't require setup, and the middle is just setup for the climax. But that's a problem that that is in the middle of the book. I like the rest of the book, but that middle part is hard to get through.

Final Score

Mr. Mercedes has some problems, especially in the middle act, but it's an overall thrilling ride and a good addition to Stephen King's bibliography.

I will give it a Savory rating. Age range is 14+.


Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)

"Mr. Mercedes"

Fun Factor: 7.5/10

Writing: 8/10

Story: 6.5/10

Characters: 8.5/10

Quality: 7.5/10

Written by Stephen King

Published on June 3, 2014

436 pages


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