Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
(Scribner / Simon & Schuster Audio, 2014)
Format: audio download from library (narrated by Will Patton)
From Goodreads: "In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.
Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands."
As a teen, I tore through my parents' collection of Stephen King books. Even though they scared me, I was always sucked in to King's deftly constructed, uncomfortable worlds. Some time in the decades since, I lost the King habit. Then Audies season rolled around, and Mr. Mercedes was on the fiction nominee list.
I thought I'd dislike the creeping sense of horror. I thought I'd be antsy to finish and move on to a title with far less suspense. I was so wrong. The things I was right about: I knew Will Patton would do a great job, and I knew Stephen King would force me to care about characters he would proceed to endanger.
Retired investigator Bill Hodges and his misfit companions are complex, complete characters. Hodges' inability to let the Mercedes Killer go, and his sharp insights into the mind of the man taunting him with his crimes, drew me fully into the plot. And it's no surprise that King is a master plotter.
Patton is consistently strong, and I learned long ago that I could trust his instincts when he is narrating a story. His pacing is excellent, which is so important during suspenseful moments, and he always seem to relish language and word play while narrating. I appreciate that he doesn't go overboard with dramatics - voices are distinct but mild, and even the crazy people sections remain understated, leaving room for the listener to process the narrative.
Fingers crossed that Patton narrates the next books in this trilogy, because now that I've reacquired the King habit, I want Patton to be my dealer.