The Bill Hodges Trilogy
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
What if the man responsible for an unspeakable crime was never caught?
“When you gaze into the abyss, Nietzsche wrote, the abyss also gazes into you.”
There's nothing quite like reading a Stephen King novel. For one, you never quite know what you're going to get. In my opinion, it's best to approach a new King novel by having little to no preconceived ideas about plot, characters, or prose.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
While King was giving advice about writing, I think it's particularly apt to apply the quote to reading too. And while some King books are better than others, it's always been about the journey rather than the destination. This time, I journeyed in a Mercedes Benz.
The plot is relatively straight forward. A deranged murderer - dubbed the Mercedes Killer - is bored. And deciding upon his next target is easy. Retired detective K. William Hodges - who is on the verge of suicide at the beginning of the novel Mr Mercedes - has been easily undone by the fact that Mercedes Killer was never caught for his crime. Being the lead detective on the case, Hodges is racked with guilt and is but one step away from the edge. Knowing this, the Mercedes Killer decides to send Hodges a letter.
“Shiny happy people don’t hold guns in their laps that way.”
― Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes
What comes next is a tale of unspeakable disgust and unfathomable horror. Mr Mercedes introduces the reader to one of the most vile villains in literature. King provides an authentic - or what feels like authentic - insight into the mind of a psychopath, and unfairly plays with the reader's emotions as he or she discovers the tragic (and fucked up) tale of the Mercedes Killer's past.
The next book in the series, Finders Keepers, diverts from the path and is only loosely connected to the first. Instead, what follows is another tale about a demented criminal seeking to reclaim/redeem the deeds of his past. Nevertheless, the reader is compelled to read on, captivated by the latest twist, enthralled by the manoeuvring of killer and protagonist.
“No one rides for free, and in the end, even the most seaworthy ship goes down, blub-blub-blub.”
― Stephen King, Finders Keepers
Finally, everything is brought to a conclusion in the final novel, End of Watch, in which loose ends are tied and characters farewelled. Without giving anything away, the story concludes in a manner typical of Stephen King.
The Bill Hodges Trilogy begins and ends a wild and exhilarating journey. The three novels are among the best I've read of King. Ultimately, he expertly interweaves his style of storytelling in with a genre I don't necessarily read too often. Fans of King will enjoy his latest series, and readers who have never before read a King novel will enjoy the ride too.
“Too late always comes too early. ”
― Stephen King, End of Watch
The Mysterious Stranger