Bill Hodges

Created by Stephen King (1947 -- )

Of course, horrormeister Stephen King has always incorporated elements of crime into his fiction, and he's often sung the praises of various crime and mystery writers, with John D. MacDonald being a particular favourite. The Colorado Kid (2005) and Joyland (2013), both originally published by Hard Case Crime, and early short stories such as "The Fifth Quarter" (1972) and "Umney's Last Case" (1983) have certainly broached the genre. However, the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, about a retired police detective being hounded by an elusive thrill killer, marks the author's first truly serious and concerted foray into crime fiction.

KERMIT "BILL" HODGES is the former cop, and when we first meet him in Mr. Mercedes (2014), he's miserable. Almost bored to death. His wife has left him, his daughter lives far, far away, he has no real close friends, and he's lonelier than anyone should be. He's thinking of pulling the plug.

And then he gets a creepy, disturbing letter from someone purporting to be the perpetrator behind one of Hodges' unsolved cases -- that of a man who intentionally drove a Mercedes into a crowd of people standing in line for a job fair, killing eight people and injuring many more. The driver was never found, but the letter contains information that only the cops -- or the killer -- would know. Ironically, it's the spark that pulls Hodges back from the brink, and he's soon thrown himself back into the case. There's not a lot of questions about who done it -- readers know right from the start almost that it's a not-quite-wired-right young computer geek, Brady Hartsfield, who's behind the carnage, but the treat is in watching the twitchy, twisty story unfold as Bill works the case while Brady taunts him at every turn. It's a helluva genre debut, and won the 2015 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

By the end of that first book, Hodges had found a new lease on life, becoming a private detective. But the cat-and-mouse game continues through two more novels, Finders Keepers (2015) and End of Watch (2016), with Hodges being taunted (rather inexplicably) by the killer again and again, and the supernatural elements King is so well known for come slowly creeping in from the edges, finally coming home to roost in the third and final installment, when we find ourselves firmly right back in StephenKingLand.

In 2017, AT&T are planning a 10-part mini-series based on Mr. Mercedes, and it looks like a good one. It boasts an impressive cast, including a beat down, worn out Brendan Gleeson perfectly cast as Bill and Harry Treadaway as Brady, and it's got David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, The Practice, etc) running the show, and crime writer Dennis Lehane chipping in as a writer and consulting producer. Should be good.

NOVELS

TELEVISION

  • MR. MERCEDES
    (2017, AT&T Network)
    10-episode mini-series
    Premiere: August 9, 2017
    Based on the novel by Stephen King
    Adapted by David E. Kelley
    Directed by Jack Bender
    Consulting producer: Dennis Lehane
    Executive producers: Stephen King, David E. Kelley, Jack Bender, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
    Starring Brendan Gleeson as BILL HODGES
    With Justine Lupe as Holly Gibney
    and Harry Treadaway as Brady Hartsfield
    Also starring Kelly Lynch, Scott Lawrence, Jharrel Jerome, Robert Stanton, Breeda Wool, Mary-Louise Parker

RELATED LINKS

Famous Writers Who Have Dipped Their Toes in the P.I. Pool

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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