King delves into everyday thriller

Stephen King takes a break from the paranormal stories and delves into an everyday thriller of a former police officer and a serial killer matching wits in “Mr. Mercedes.”

Bill Hodges has recently retired from the police force and is finding life in retirement to be hard. Faced with spending day after day watching bad television, a way out is starting to look appealing, and that’s when he gets a letter from someone claiming to be “Mr. Mercedes” – a killer who ran over a group of people in line for a job fair with a stolen Mercedes, whose owner later kills herself. Mr. Mercedes taunts and hints that he’s been watching him, stir Bill out of retirement, and he contacts his former partner to talk about some of their unsolved cases, including that one. But he keeps the letter a secret.

Meanwhile, Brady Hartfield goes about his day-to-day life, of working a retail job and driving an ice cream truck, concealing his disdain for people and dreaming of the next big event he can do to kill as many as possible and feel the rush again the day he became Mr. Mercedes. Taunting the old cop is just as much of a thrill to him as he watches Bill too.

As Brady plans his next event and continues his twisted relationship with his alcoholic mother, Bill begins to reinvestigate the stolen Mercedes and comes in contact with the sister of the woman who had owned the Mercedes. Janey wants him to find out more about why her sister killed herself and how the car was stolen. As Bill and Janey team up to investigate, they become closer, and little do either of them know, but are also being watched by a twisted killer. As the danger around them heightens, and Brady plans his next move, a dangerous trap is set that could change everything.

King does really great work in this thriller novel, and shows he doesn’t need to rely on aliens or monsters to deliver a good scary story. And it is interesting to see pretty much right away who the killer is and what he’s doing and wondering how Bill is going to finally catch him. All of the characterization is top notch and all in all, it is a pretty fast paced read.

“Mr Mercedes” is published by Scribner. It is $30 and 436 pages long.

Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com