The Colorado Kids was a mystery novel by Stephen King, which was published in 2005 the speciality crime and mystery publishing house Hard Case Crime. I had read The Colorado Kid twice, the second time changing my two-star rating to a three. As far as I was concerned, Mr King should stick to horror. Then the master of horror released another crime novel by the same publishers in 2013 – Joyland. I very much enjoyed this book, it was darker than the Colorado Kid. So when Mr Mercedes was released last month and hailed as Stephen King’s first “hard-boiled detective tale”, I thought of The Colorado Kid, and my heart sank. Still, it sported a good deal more pages, and let’s face it, as someone who is known for choosing books based on their covers, I couldn’t pass this one by – the cover image of the audio book sports blood. Considering the author, this is a good omen 🙂
In the letter the Mercedes Killer writes to the retired detective who failed to catch him, the killer claims, “most people are fitted with a conscience; I have none”. The trademark of a psychopath, and Mr King does a great job painting a Bundy-esque image: relatively good-looking, not exactly social but not offensive, polite, young man that blends in and doesn’t rock the boat. Except when plowing into crowds in a German-engineered road tank. And that is only the start of this twisted mind’s killing spree, although, all things considered, it could’ve been a much more expansive spree.
If you’ve never read a Stephen King book, this might not be the perfect starter book for you. Perhaps you should try the Colorado Kid, or (luring the unsuspecting into a lovely trap here) Shawshank Redemption – you didn’t know that was a Stephen King book, because it had no gore, right? If you’re not a Stephen King fan (whatever is wrong with you?!), this might win you over
to the dark side. Or not; there’s no accounting for people who can’t recognise, wait, I’ll stop that rant there.
Yes, I find that I keep digressing, and the reason for that is that I’m reminiscing over this book, and trying not to spoil it for anyone. Yes, there were a few instances where I had to pause the book to finish my meal, but there was nothing nightmare-inducing. Sure, that might say more about me than I’d like to have complete strangers know about me, but I’m not going to psycho-analyse (or profile) myself here or now.
Okay, so what can I tell you about the book without spoiling the experience for anyone? It is really good – unputdownable, I believe is the word most likely to be used in connection with Mr Mercedes. Also haunting (when you’re awake and waiting for the toast to pop out). And the first of a trilogy featuring Det. Ret. Hodges and his unlikely sleuthing team – that has me excited. With the exception of The Dark Tower, Stephen King doesn’t really do series or trilogies, or any of that, although there are several sticky threads and characters to stumble across in most of his books. And while the King generally delivers about two books a year, it’s good to know that there’s not slowing the man down. Also, please Mr King won’t you please reveal that you’re a vampire and will never die, thus never stop delivering my favourite books? You can tell me. I can keep a secret. Mostly. Provided I can’t find a way to write it up in a six-word story. Digressing. Again. So let’s wrap this up!
Stranger, non-fan, or fan. The bottom line, now that I’m back on track, is that you SHOULD read Mr Mercedes sometime this year at least. But probably not over lunch. Or dinner. Trust me.