I have very strict rules when it comes to horror, particularly movies. I love supernatural horror — ghosts, demons, haunted houses, etc. — because I know deep down that it’s not real, so it’s not as scary to me. I don’t get obsessive about it. But I can’t handle stuff that could really happen very well — murderers, torturers, kidnappers, etc. — unless they’re overblown and cartoonish. I know murderers exist, and that people have really died in that way, and it just sticks with me in a way that I can’t shake as easily as I can someone getting possessed or getting killed by a demon or whatever. Especially when it comes to pets and kids. I can handle murder-y stuff better in books than in movies, because I can skim past the icky parts if needed (Spoilers — the main bad guy in this totally kills his little brother and I have no problem admitting that I flipped past those four pages. And a baby dies in the first few pages but King kind of glosses over the gory details. Oh, and the dog lives. For those that need to know these things).
“Hodges has read there are wells in Iceland so deep you can drop a stone down them and never hear the splash. He thinks some human souls are like that. Things like bum fighting are only halfway down such wells.”
Mr. Mercedes is not a supernatural horror story. It is straight up detective fiction — a retired detective named Bill Hodges gets roped back into a case by a psychotic killer who sends him a letter taunting him about his retirement. Still, it is horrifying — the things the killer does, and dreams about, and the things that have driven him to be that way. The book is actually pretty good, and I liked the main character (the good guy, that is). Goodreads indicates that Mr. Mercedes comes first of three books starring Hodges, and I look forward to the others (especially if they feature the two unlikely sidekicks he acquires in this novel). But this is definitely an example of King writing about human monsters, not evil hotels or demon clowns, and for some reason, it’s a lot more disturbing than I expected.
Also — bonus points if you can catch King’s winky references to his other novels. I caught two — It and Christine — and I’m wondering if there are more…