King is still doing horror in “Mr. Mercedes.” In addition to the tension of watching a man trying to kill on a massive scale, we get the typical King discomfort. Looking in on the life of the twisted, psychopathic killer in this book is more disturbing than it needed to be. Especially as King lets us in the mind of this monster. To quote a section at length:
“He’s not worried about God, or about spending eternity being slow-roasted for his crimes. There’s no heaven and no hell. Anyone with half a brain knows those things don’t exist. How cruel would a supreme being have to be to make a world as [f-d up] as this one?
…every religion lies. Every moral perception is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.”
Never mind that these are the ravings of someone who King clearly shows as deranged. Never mind that the story goes on to see moral perception triumph, and that it does so in a way that lends credence to meaning and a “guiding hand” at work. The mind of the evil man is the only one we hear regarding these metaphysical concepts. His is the one that people seem to want to hear these days. People still root for the good guy these days (hopefully) but they are fascinated with the evil.