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Me “Under The Blue Umbrella” from Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

It’s been two weeks since I made the journey up North to Harrogate, and it already seems a world away, and yet at the same time, for now at least, and for reasons both good and not so good, it’s not a festival I am going to forget in a hurry.

Following the opening party on Thursday night, I took a spill on the hotel steps, and ended up spending the early hours of Friday morning in a local accident and emergency department, before returning to the festival to spend the rest of the weekend making my way around on crutches.

After last years proposal, this was a source of some merriment among some of the more regular festival goers who were keen to discover what the plan was for next year to ensure that everyone attending knows who I am….  Still as can be seen from Col Bury’s Harrogate write up, I wasn’t the only one to leave the festival with more than a few bruises.

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The Harrogate Book Haul.

So the not so good news is I’m still suffering quite a lot of pain, although I’m walking around unaided, but being positive, injury aside,  I still managed to come back from the festival with an impressive amount of books, mainly due to directing my friends between events and giveaways by means of a waving crutch.  I now have a great excuse to spend all my spare time with my feet up and I’ve plenty to keep me busy for a while, all I need to do is remember to post my reviews!

Also as I was once more attending the festival as a representative of CrimeSquad.com, the website run by the fabulous Chris Simmons for whom I also review and report for, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the company of both Hakan Nesser and Arnaldur Indridason, two fantastic gentlemen, who were both an easy delight to talk too – You can read my interviews with both of them over on the CrimeSquad.com Harrogate Microsite

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A tired me, a very smooth looking Hakan Nesser

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Arnaldur Indridason. Awsome man, fabulous books

A Book A Day, Sunday Wrap Up #2

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F is For

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Flesh House by Stuart MacBride.  Flesh House is the fourth book in the Logan McRae series and is the pivotal point where a good character becomes a great character.  It’s dark, gruesome and you’ll never look at bacon the same way again.

G is For

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The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.  Mickey Haller Book 5. The latest installment of just one of Michael Connelly’s fabulous series.  If you love legal thrillers with a great twist, get into these.

H is For

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Hostage by Kristina Ohlsson, I haven’t read this one yet but with its plot of a plane in flight being taken by force and being held for ransom it’s one I’m keen to read.

I is For

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In The Dark by Mark Billingham.  In The Dark was the first standalone novel that Billngham wrote after taking a break in his Tom Thorne series of novels.  Since then however, main character Helen Weeks has appeared more often, crossing over and enhancing the Thorne books.

J is For

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Joyland by Stephen King.  I’ve only ever read one Stephen King novel, which was Mr Mercedes.  I’m now moving on to try a few more recently adding this one to my TBR pile.

K is For

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Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah.  Always dark, detailed, and extremely well plotted, Sophie Hannah’s books are a guaranteed riveting read.

L is For

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Long Way Home by Eva Dolan.  Way too many good friends have told me this is brilliant.  One day soon, I hope, I’ll get to find out…

Mr Mercedes – Stephen King

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In the frigid pre-dawn hours of a distressed mid-western city, hundreds of folk are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver ploughs 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.

Bill Hodges is a retired cop, depressed, lonely and still haunted by the unsolved crime. When out of the blue he receives a crazed letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer, and threatening further acts of violence, Hodges becomes hell-bent on tracking him down and preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born and is preparing to kill again. Only Hodges together with a couple of misfit friends can apprehend the killer in this high stakes race against time, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

OK. I admit it. Mr Mercedes is the first Stephen King novel I have ever read. Not that I haven’t tried before, but nothing has ever ‘grabbed’ me and made me want to follow it through to the end. That said, I’m not really a fan of the horror genre when it comes to my choice of reading material. Mr Mercedes isn’t a horror story, it’s a classic crime thriller and I loved it.

It took me while to get used to some of the characters as they certainly were a real rag-tag bunch of misfits, with Holly being the most difficult to frame in my mind, but the group dynamic was one that worked really well.  Bill Hodges is a truly depressed and broken man at the beginning of the tale, but once his ‘scooby gang’ is brought together the change is fast and you can see how he would have been a great detective in his police days.

In contrast the downward spiral of Brady Hartfield as the book progresses is slow, yet clearly visible and perfectly timed to the pace of the novel.  It was almost a delight seeing him lose his controls and clarity of purpose as Hodges closes in.

I’ve read many mixed or poor reviews of Mr Mercedes, and surprisingly most of these seem to have come from lifelong Stephen King fans. Personally I think this is probably down to the change in genre, because as a prolific crime fiction reader I think King has done a great job myself, so I’m really glad to note that this is the first in a trilogy as it means I have more to look forward too.