Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Title: Mr. Mercedes
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 448
Genre: Fiction; mystery/thriller
Publisher: Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
Pub. Date: June 3, 2014

Stephen King's latest book, Mr. Mercedes, starts off with a psychopathic killer driving his car through a mass of people waiting in line for a job fair, murdering several and hurting others. He manages to escape and his case essentially becomes cold. The owner of the car whom he stole it from then kills herself, presumably from the guilt of leaving her car accessible.

Retired Detective Hodges then enters the story; he's experiencing a newly retired life which feels pointless until he is drawn into this case, basically by Mr. Mercedes himself, and decides to try to find the killer on his own. In the meantime, Mr. Mercedes has plans for more evil, so the retired detective's search for him becomes a race to save thousands of people.

I read through this one quickly. I liked all the characters (well except Mr. Mercedes of course, but his character was done well for who he was). Mr. Mercedes, of course, was creeeepy. Reading his thoughts was often cringe worthy for so many different reasons. There were lots of cliffhangers, and I never wanted to stop reading when the chapters ended. I felt like there was an element of "true crime" to it as well in that this story was relevant to some of the scary things our country has experienced in recent years in terms of mass murders... I always find myself wanting to understand more, so even though this was fiction, reading from the killer's point of view was informative in a way (though disturbing!)

What I did not like was the significant amount of references to race... for Mr. Mercedes they made sense because they were part of his character and thoughts.. But there was a large amount of focus on Det. Hodges's lawn person and his race and how he overcomes the stereotypes, etc., but they have this inside joke about how he refers to Hodges as "Massa Hodges", and this joke is really played out, and I'm not completely sure what the point of that was. That was slightly distracting for me.

Would definitely recommend this, and a good starter for those who have not read King before and maybe are afraid of some of his scarier stuff. Also, Mr. Mercedes is apparently the first in a planned trilogy! The second book comes out in 2015.

Review: That Night by Chevy Stevens

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Title: That Night
Author: Chevy Stevens
Pages: 370
Genre: Fiction; mystery/thriller
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
Pub. Date: June 17, 2014

I read two of Chevy Stevens's previous three books, Still Missing and Never Knowing, and found both to be great thrilling and suspenseful reads. So I was happy to have the opportunity to read her latest.

In That Night, we follow the story line of Toni, a woman in her mid-thirties, who has spent almost the last twenty years in prison for the murder of her sister. The only issue is she was falsely accused and no wants to find out what really happened. The book is told through two different timelines - the current one in which Toni is trying to be straight and not get in trouble with her probation officer while still trying to find out the truth about who killed her sister - and the past story line from when she was a teenager, was arrested, convicted, and then her time in prison.

This was a fast and suspenseful read that kept me guessing. I did guess one thing but was still surprised to find out I was right about that. I disliked some of the girls in the book, but it does well at depicting high school cliques and bullying. The author's reference to pop culture and trends was so reminiscent of junior high for me (the character is in high school) and transported me back to my 1996 as well! The relationship between the main character and her sister bugged me because I wish they were closer, and the mom in this book made me so mad! But that was just part of the story and not a writing or character issue. ;)

I would definitely recommend this for fans of this genre.