Sunday, June 8, 2014

'Mr. Mercedes'

I have a great affection for Mr. Stephen King.  I love him so much that I call him 'Little Stevie King' because he's just that cool.

A few years ago, I watched him being interviewed on television.  When the interviewer asked him where he gets his story ideas, King thought about it for a minute, and then said that, for example, when he's waiting for one of his kids to get home before curfew, and they're late, horrible thoughts worm their way into his brain and he imagines the worst.  Car accident, 'stranger danger', jail.  Although the child returns home, safe-and-sound, that little worm remains, digging it's way into his psyche.  I think a lot of writers experience the same thing: That nagging idea that just won't go away until you pound the keyboard or pick up the pen.  I get a few pages written and once I have a hold on it, I step away.

I don't think Little Stevie is that nonchalant. This man is dedicated to his craft and it really shows. And I thank the Universe for that.

Mainly known for his classic works of supernatural mayhem and malice, with a touch of his signature tenderness, I've had the pleasure of reading a few of his more 'normal' stories and non-fiction pieces.  And I wasn't disappointed.  I didn't sit there, expecting to read about a wacko clown or a smooth vampire.  I was enchanted.  

It's the reality that stayed in my mind. 

And so it is with his newest novel, 'Mr. Mercedes'.  This time, Little Stevie's been letting the news stories worm their way into his brain.  This one is scary and all-too-real.  The stuff of nightmares. At least with his paranormal horror we know that it's not gonna happen.  No how, no way.

But this happens more often than we care to admit.  And it's truly scary.  He gets into the mind of his antagonist with an almost alarming intimacy.  As for his primary protagonist, you want to surrender to his steadfast protection.

Stephen King
In the predawn hours during the economic collapse in the U.S., hundreds of cold, desperate men and women are lined up for the opening of a job fair.  Emerging from the fog is a Mercedes driven by a man with one thing on his mind:  Death.  He plows through the crowd, driving over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed and fifteen are wounded, and the killer escapes.

Months later, Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is still haunted by the crime, is depressed and considering suicide when he receives a letter from the killer. Instantly awakening from his depression, Bill is bound-and-determined to find him and prevent his next attack. Together with some mismatched allies, Bill sets a course to discover who the killer is.  But Mr. Mercedes is closer than they think.

King's newest, can't-put-down novel hits close to home, and it will leave a nasty taste in your mouth.  Not because it isn't well-written.  And not because you can't identify with it.

It's because it's all too real.  And that's frightening enough for all of us.

Who needs the paranormal to scare us when all we have to do is pick up a newspaper?

Little Stevie has hit it out of the park, once again.

'Mr. Mercedes', by Stephen King, is now available at libraries and your local independent bookstores.  Hardcover ISBN 9781476754451; e-book 9781476754468

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