Unless you'd like to know what goes on in Stephen King's newest novel, turn back now.
Okay, so since he was hit by a van (what, 20 years ago now?) Stephen King has been hit or miss when it comes to his books. Historically speaking, even a disappointing King novel can be fun,(yes, I'm looking squarely at YOU, Gerald's Game,) but more often than not, his post-accident books have been mostly miss. This hasn't bothered me, since some of his strongest works have also come from this period: Lisey's Story, which has never once failed to bring a tear to my eye, On Writing, his masterful autobiography and primer on how to write a decent book, Cell, which, for all its weirdness, brought a smile to my face with a re-imagined concept of the zombie, and 11/23/63, one of the best time travel stories I've ever read... and then there are the misses. Under the Dome jumps immediately to the front of this list, containing some of his worst writing ever, with his hallmark tone-deaf delivery of what a kid sounds like (seriously; every last kid he's EVER written reads like a forty year-old trying to talk jive,) and one of the least satisfying endings of any of his books, with the villain getting one of the easiest deaths I've ever come across (seriously; he just up and croaks, relatively peacefully, of a heart attack) and ZOMG ALIENS DID IT BUT THEY'RE GONNA GO AWAY NOW BECAUSE PLOT.
...And that brings me to Mr. Mercedes. Gah.
My wife bought me the book to read on the plane from San Diego to South Carolina, where I was going to help my mom get the house in order to sell it after her husband passed away last month, and I looked forward to a solid six hours of uninterrupted reading time in the air. Boy, how I wish I had sprung for Game of Thrones instead.
Mr. Mercedes features all of King's bad habits: kids that read like old men, computer lingo that he must have picked up from Yahoo answers, the heroes making intuitive leaps to help them solve the book's central mystery that they could not possibly have come to, as inept as they all are, and a villain that King can't figure out how to sell as psychotic properly, so he goes and tells us that the guy plays Call of Duty and plonks a clumsily-executed incestuous mother-son relationship into the thing so we can see that the guy is unbalanced.
Plus, I'm firmly convinced that King doesn't know how the Internet works; the villain has a Website that he frequents, and he accesses it through an icon on his computer's desktop. THAT IS NOT HOW A WEBSITE WORKS, MAN.
Also: two characters who DO NOT SPEAK TO EACH OTHER both regurgitate the same bit of trivia about the serial killer, the Son of Sam, stating that he was caught because of a parking ticket. King, boobala, baby, it's cool if you want to point something out, but remember that you pointed it out so you don't do it again twenty pages later from a different character and snap your readers right out of the magic circle (look it up, folks).
In short, Uncle Stevie let me down. This isn't a disaster, but it's about as unlikeable a time as I've ever had reading something that wasn't written by Dean Fucking Koontz.