Mr. Mercedes Journal #2: It's In My Head

It's Friday the 13th, and Stephen King has me uncomfortably close to a serial killer known as Mr. Mercedes.  Thankfully the book alternates back and forth between Mr. Mercedes and Detective Hodges.

King does a nice job of getting us inside the killers head.  Awful thoughts, images, ideas are passed from the killer to the reader; and the reader is startled because maybe  those same thoughts went through their head at some time in the past.  Mr. Mercedes would suggest that everyone has some pretty wicked ideas, but he's the only one with enough courage to act on them.

The letters and correspondence from the killer are particularly haunting and well done.  I'm generally not a fan of letters in books.  The epistolary novel has never really engaged me.  (Sorry Dracula fans -- including Mr. King.)  However, these letters are brilliant.  Mr. Mercede's might be messed up, but this guy can really mess with your head.

One thing King does that almost relieves the tension the reader feels when reading the book is gives Mr. Mercedes a sick/sexual relationship with his mother.  So just about the time the reader might say, "I've had thoughts like that" -- some nasty scene between  sicko and mama comes along and the reader breathes a sight of relief, "nope, I'm not that sick!"  I actually dislike those portions of the novel quite a bit.  Is King trying to give us the Bates family?

The novel is written almost entirely in the present tense.  This is a little strange to me, but King pulls it off effortlessly.  This style is usually utilized by new writers, or experimental fiction.  It gets really awkward in the first person, which King stays away from.  "I'm walking down a long hallway. . ."

Thank You For The New Fears, Mr. King:

Oh, and you can add to the list of things Stephen King makes me uncomfortable with. . . THE ICE-CREAM TRUCK.  Thanks Uncle Stevie.  Just thanks.

I was in another city tonight, and heard something we don't hear in our town; yep, it was the ice-cream truck.  "That is disturbing," I thought.

Does the ice-cream truck have some root in a real case?  Maybe.

FROM creepypasta: Ice_Cream_Truck
Several years ago, a string of child-abductions struck residents of a small American suburban community. Eventually these abductions were found to be the work of a travelling ice-cream truck driver who used to lure children away with his charm, sweets and the sing-song tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy. 
Convicted of at least a dozen child abductions and murders the driver was convicted and sentenced to death. 
With his execution came a bittersweet sense of ease for the community as he had refused to tell where he had hid their children's bodies. 
After a few years, the continued search for the victims' bodies finally came to an end. To this day, authorities are unable to trace the whereabouts of the children. Many suspect they were burned, and their remains dumped in a nearby river. 
However this is not where this tragic tale ends, for according to local legend every day on the anniversary of the murderous ice-cream van driver's execution, a ghostly van appears on the streets of the same suburban community he once terrorized. One can hear the playing of Yankee Doodle Dandy and see the van, never stopping as it makes its way out of the community and into the unknown.
So what's this story missing?  Names.  Places.  Dates.

Here's some creepy ice-cream trucks:

WAIT. . . before you go, check this out:

Now I would swear, Pennywise is on that truck.

Alright, sweet dreams.


  1. I feel your pain regarding the incest scenes. The past three novels I've read -- Robert R. McCammon's "They Thirst," Tabitha King's "Caretakers," and "Mr. Mercedes" -- have all featured scenes like that. I'm beginning to think I've done something wrong in terms of picking out reading material!

    So far, though, my current read -- Peter Straub's "Floating Dragon" -- is blessedly free of hot mom-on-son action. I dearly hope it remains so.

  2. For my part, I cannot think of ice cream trucks without thinking of three things:

    (1) ice cream (i.e., running outside to buy something from an ice cream truck during the summer) -- duh

    (2) "Assault on Precinct 13," which contains one of the most chilling (no pun intended) murder scenes in all of cinema, and also involves an ice cream truck

    (3) a short story I used to think about writing involving a guy driving an ice cream truck around after the apocalypse; never wrote it partially because I am lazy, but also because I could never figure out whether he would actually be selling ice cream

  3. How about this Clint Howard movie:

  4. In spite of "those" scenes in the novel, I do have to say it's good to see King knows how to build suspense.

    Also, the use of the clown (Pennywise?) mask makes me wonder if it won't crop up again in the supposed sequels? If so, what would that mean?

    That's just empty speculation, but it's just an interesting question that occurred to me.

    That story of a post-apocalyptic Ice-Cream truck driver sounds interesting, Bryant. You should maybe think of going back to it.

    Also, I now have the image of Pennywise/It chugging through the streets of Derry in an Ice-Cream truck. Thanks, Mr. King!