TIH 526: Analysing Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King with Laurel Hightower, Part I

TIH 526 Analysing Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King with Laurel Hightower, Part I

In this podcast, we give Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes the Story Unboxed treatment and begin to dissect and discuss this wonderful novel. This is the first part of our unboxing of Mr. Mercedes and it’s the first in a special Holly Gibney series of episodes.

About Mr. Mercedes

The stolen Mercedes emerges from the pre-dawn fog and plows through a crowd of men and women on line for a job fair in a distressed American city. Then the lone driver backs up, charges again, and speeds off, leaving eight dead and more wounded. The case goes unsolved and ex-cop Bill Hodges is out of hope when he gets a letter from a man who loved the feel of death under the Mercedes’s wheels…

Brady Hartsfield wants that rush again, but this time he’s going big, with an attack that would take down thousands—unless Hodges and two new unusual allies he picks up along the way can throw a wrench in Hartsfield’s diabolical plans.

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Not Forever, But For Now by Chuck Palahniuk

Meet Otto and Cecil. Two brothers growing up privileged in the Welsh countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows, playing with their pet pony, impersonating their Grandfather…and killing the help. Murder is the family business after all. Downton Abbey, this is not.

What this IS: the groundbreaking new novel Not Forever, But For Now by Chuck Palahniuk. You may know Chuck as the author of Fight Club. Now you’ll know him as the author of Not Forever, But For Now, wherever books are sold.

The Ungodly Duology by S.H. Cooper

The Ungodly Duology features two horror novellas from author S.H. Cooper

Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We count we're the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now today's episode is a little different. You see last week Stephen King released his brand new book Holly. And to celebrate the occasion, we have put something special together for you. See, over the next few months, we are going to record a story on Bob style episode, in which we discuss and dissect a Stephen King book featuring Holly gave me for those unfamiliar with story unboxed, it is usually our Patreon only podcast in which we dive deep into a short story book or film, discussing the story and looking at the writing lessons and takeaways. But for this series of episodes, it is coming to all of you This Is Horror Podcast listeners. So stay tuned for episode is on Mr. Mercedes, finders keepers and of watch the outsider if it bleeds, and Holly. Today we are discussing Mr. Mercedes. But before we get into that, an advert break

S.H. Cooper 1:55

20 years ago faith York watched her father get dragged into the earth by a spider armed woman. Now after so many years of denial and running, it's time for faith to go home and face the truth. A spiraling rabbit hole of reopen wounds shadowy cults and elder tours await in the ungodly duology two novellas by sh Cooper, available now in ebook and paperback from cemetery gates media.

Bob Pastorella 2:22

Meet Otto and Cecil two brothers go in a privilege and wealth countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows playing with their pet pony, impersonating the grandfather and killing to help murderous a family business after all, Downton Abbey. This is not what this is the groundbreaking new novel not forever, but for now by Chuck Palahniuk, you may know Chuck his daughter Fight Club. Now you'll know him as the author of not forever, but for now, wherever books are sold.

Michael David Wilson 2:56

I know we are back. And today. Joining us for our discussion on Mr. Mercedes. We have one of my favorite writers and people in the horror genre. The author of books such as crossroads and below to name just two and forthcoming in October silent key. I am talking about Laurel Hightower. Laurel. Welcome to the show.

Laurel Hightower 3:21

Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Michael David Wilson 3:24

Glad to have you here. How are you doing?

Laurel Hightower 3:27

I'm good. And if anyone's wondering, I did in fact, wear a sleeveless top and I'm propping my arm specifically to show off my tattoo because that's all I do. Now. This is 35% of my day is just did you did you catch that? So now that I've done that I've gotten that over with but how are you?

Michael David Wilson 3:44

I'm very well thank you. Yeah, it is an amazing looking tattoo. I thought that as soon as we put the video on like there's colors of vibrant it's really popping. listeners are thinking what the hell is going on? Well, that's why you've got to watch the YouTube version as well.

Laurel Hightower 4:03

That's the that's the extra benefit you get to you get to check out high towers tattoo, but that's okay. If you see me at a con. I'm almost certainly going to be like rolling my sleeves up. Oh, did you? Did you need something?

Michael David Wilson 4:13

Yeah, yeah. Well, Bob, how you doing?

Bob Pastorella 4:19

I'm doing great, man. I'm glad to be here. Talking about this, this awesome book, which I've never read. I've seen the series, but uh, I finally got a chance to read this book in a man. I really enjoyed it. It was good.

Michael David Wilson 4:33

Yeah, well, I believe Bob that you have a synopsis for Mr. Mercedes. So let's kick off with that.

Bob Pastorella 4:40

Yes, I do. The Stolen Mercedes emerges from the pre Dawn fog and plows to a crowd of men and women online for a job fair in a distressed American city. Then the lone driver backs up charges again it speeds off leaving eight dead more wounded. The case goes unsolved. And ex cop Bill Hodges as Out of hope, when he gets a letter from a man who loved the feel of death under the Mercedes wheels. Brady Hartsfield wants that rush again. But this time he's going big. With an attack that would take down 1000s. And let's Hardison to new unusual allies. He picks up along the way can throw a wrench in heartfield diabolical plans. And that is Mr. Mercedes.

Michael David Wilson 5:25

So wonderful synopsis. Yeah, very

Laurel Hightower 5:29


Michael David Wilson 5:30


Bob Pastorella 5:31

I tried hard.

Michael David Wilson 5:34

Yeah. So I mean, I don't to begin with it would be useful to talk about, you know, the first time that we read Mr. Mercedes and our background coming into this. And so I mean, for me, I haven't actually read a holly Gibson he books. So this challenge is let's read them. Oh, let's get the reaction, you know, to coincide with Holly coming out. And wow, what an incredible book. It was, I'm, I'm glad that I felt that way. It would have been a little bit awkward if I committed. I'm boxing. This one isn't that but this is incredible. It's,

Bob Pastorella 6:20

it's gonna get better as we go through these I swear.

Michael David Wilson 6:27

I mean, it's been billed as fast, hardboiled detective novel build was not meant to be planned out. And you know, it won the Edgar Award for 2015 Best Novel. It just hit some kind of all the notes that you would expect from both hardboiled and a Stephen King stories. So I really I've been blown away by this one, I think is right up there in in terms of his best books.

Laurel Hightower 7:02

I would agree. Yeah.

Bob Pastorella 7:03

Yeah, it's, um, you know, in talking about like, this was the this week was the first time I'd read the book was not my first experience with Holly Gibney. That was, you know, that came from the outsiders, which are the outsider, rather, so I read that book, then I seen the series. And that got me interested in watching the series, Mr. Mercedes. And so I dove into that and watched all three, you know, seasons of that, which are the seasons cover each book, but they're kind of told that, you know, the second two seasons are taught how to order. The season, the show never got canceled. It got the whole program, creative platform got canceled is what happened. So they have no, you know, desire to make it, it could come back on another platform, you know, possibly, but it's been a long time. I think it's what's canceled like in 2020. So we're three years out. But yeah, so my first experience with with Holly was through, you know, the outsider. And then the series, which she was playing by, am appalling to say her name wrong, Cynthia, or vino or herb? No, she fit the book, but she's not the same Holly that's in the series. And she's definitely Holly's not the same woman that she is in Mr. Mercedes. I think that's why King has grown attached to his character, because each story that she's in that she reoccurs him, and it was a massive amount of growth there. And so it's yeah, it's about time that he has a book, you know, pretty much dedicated to her. And she's probably one of his most endearing characters, you know, and he's got a bunch of them. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 8:53

Oh, yeah. And just for the record, I haven't seen the TV series, I watched the first episode to kind of get into the let's see what it was like to prepare myself for this. But yeah, I couldn't within the space of the last week, read the book, watch the series and come up with critical thought on both, but I definitely want to it, you know, it started off really wonderfully, and with that brutal scene that we're going to get into imminently but before then, I mean, Laurel, what has your experience with Mr. Mercedes been? When did you first read it?

Laurel Hightower 9:38

I could not pin down the year but I'm gonna say it probably wasn't terribly long after it was released. It was if it was released in 2015, maybe 2017, something like that. Had it was 2014 was when it came out. Yeah. So some somewhere in there. So it's been several years since I've read it and I have also read the second two In which I will not, you know, obviously spoil anything for on those. But But yeah, I read the initial trilogy. And yeah, so when you, you know, put out the, you know who's excited about this or whatever I was like me because I do not not to you know, and I know we'll get into some of the stuff. It's definitely not a perfect, perfect book. But I really you know, when you say that it's up there with his best novels, I also think it ranks up there and Hodges ranks up there with some of the best detective stories. I feel like, you know, I was very interested when it was like, oh, you know, he's writing his first like, hard boiled detective story. I was like, Okay, I'm gonna see how he does with this. And, and I thought he did great. He definitely has his spin on it. But I think particularly with this first one, the biggest thing that I noticed that he brought to it was just the the really deep like dive into humanity, the way that he creates these characters so fully, you know, that you really feel something for them. And you, you know, you kind of start to get in their heads and like, anticipate what they're going to do. And in in that way, you're kind of almost solving the mystery along with them. So yeah, this is Bill Hodges is absolutely one of my favorite characters, literary characters ever, let alone Stephen King. So maybe I'm on the on the other end of the spectrum there as far as Holly who I like very well, but, but for this, you know, this trilogy, I feel like, Bill's kind of the bills kind of star and I like him quite a bit.

Michael David Wilson 11:26

Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, the way that is dubbed I mean, this is Hodges trilogy. So I guess that yeah, that it's right, that you're at least meant. If not like him, gumbos, then certainly kind of follow him the most and Bill's arc in this book. And Mr. Mercedes. I mean, he starts off so flawed, his thoughts of like, borderline misogynistic, or some, some things. But I so I can see people being frustrated initially. But then like, you know, when you get to the end of the book, by the way, we always completely spoil whatever we're unboxing. So if you haven't read it, you might want to turn off now. But yeah, by by, by the time we get to the end, we see just how masterfully everything has been orchestrated. And he's got a redemptive arc, like he's realized all of his flaws, he's addressed them. And it's all resolved. And actually, I mean, interestingly, to begin with, the Mercedes killer Brady Hartsfield, I would argue, is actually more self aware than Bill Hodges is,

Laurel Hightower 12:50

yeah, not certainly not remotely likable. But I think that's a good argument as far as like, because it because king does go into quite a bit about Brady's thought process and how he, you know, he has a line in there, that's so interesting, where he's, I think he's talking about his sexuality. And he's like, he was a, something like a, an unknown to himself, or like, a blank wall to himself about something like that, like, so it's, it is really clear with little things like that, how much time he spent sort of reflecting on himself, which, of course, in his context is probably somewhat narcissistic. But yeah, he's he's definitely more aware.

Michael David Wilson 13:27

Yeah. And I mean, because there's so much packed into Mr. Mercedes, You've almost got to choose your own adventure situation here. So do we want to talk more in depth about Bill Hodges and his character and his arc? Do we want to talk a little bit about Brady and perhaps his sexuality and his relationship with his mother? Or do we want to just jump in to the Mercedes attack that Bruce or lightning

Laurel Hightower 14:01

I mean, I, I feel like we can kind of hit on all of that along the way. But it might be useful to do it in sort of a chronological fashion because like you said, there's the arc, you know, along with so it's, that just might be the most linear way to do it. Plus, that's a hell of a scene.

Bob Pastorella 14:17

Yeah, I mean, I can I can speak on it, that scene for me is like really rough, because I have been in line at a job fair, very early in the morning. So I know what it's like, in the amount of time that you stand in one spot. And you just want to sit down and you're afraid you're gonna lose your spot. So I felt a very, you know, felt very kindred to these people who are just there because they're, they're trying to get a job there. That's, that's why they're there. And the to me, the utter Tality of someone just decides to drive their fucking car into him. Because they got some kind of thrill out of it. People like that, you know, when you when you find when you finally get the bill and you see what what not solving that case is done to him. I'm like, I get it. I get it. Because Bill Bill's the type of guy, he's the type of character who that a feat they would have caught. Brady, then in a bill would have been obviously bill would have probably strangled him to death. Because he's just that type of guy. And that's a completely wrong approach. As we see Bill grow in the story, we see that bill still feels that way. He's he's become honest with himself. But he knows it's not the right thing to do. But God dammit there's so many wrong things, you know, so. But that scene, I think that that's probably one of the best prologues that I've ever read. Because it's it's not even, I think it is listed as a prologue, I might be wrong, but it does. It's a scene. It's a setup, it gets you into the moment, it makes you realize that these people were completely innocent and had no, no, they needed help. That's why they were in line, they needed a job, and some more desperate than others. And then we never get to see these characters again, because they're dead.

Laurel Hightower 16:35

But we care so much about them. Yeah, such a brief spot of time. And I think, you know, Bob, that's really such a good point about the relation there, the humanity of it, because, you know, you're talking about standing in that line. And I feel like that's maybe part of what had so much impact because he's writing about, you know, the time after the 2008 market crash, and, you know, it's a recession and everybody's broke, and everybody's hopeless, and the way that he conveys in such a short period of time, these characters that, like you said, have such a short stage time. But we see their humanity we see augis kindness, you know, and his own worries, and we see, you know, Janice and her everything that's going on with her and the, you know, the hope that they find and hopelessness they're like, you know, in line and the way that that is so cruelly destroyed, and, you know, he mentions to like, before Auggie before he realizes this guy's coming at them. And he's like, is this the mayor as a kind of bad luck showing up in a Mercedes and I think there is such impact with that, too, that not only are these people who are trying their damnedest, you know, to to find a foothold in the way things have gone in the world. Not only are they mowed down in that point of hope, but they're mowed down by like a car that costs you know, more than some of their homes, I'm sure. And that's so poignant.

Bob Pastorella 18:02

It is, and it's and when you as you go through the story, and you realize that it was just a car, that you're aspect of what you just mentioned, it was not it was like the furthest thing from Brady's mind. It was like this is a lot of horsepower, and it can do a lot of damage. And that's, you know, he didn't see the the socio economic status part of it. If he did, it wasn't it wasn't that important to him. But it's important to us. It's important to Bill, Bill, you know, and we see everything to Bill's eyes. And that's, you know, it colors the entire story.

Michael David Wilson 18:39

Yeah, I mean, these characters in the opening, they're so well painted that it genuinely felt like okay, I'm being introduced to the protagonist here. That's what I thought was going on on that. On that reading good. I mean, King has this ability, He does it so frequently to make you care for character so quickly. So as you say, it just makes the impact of when everybody you know, when they're plowed into and then eight people are killed. We never see anyone again. It's just brutal. Like what have you done to me? I mean, a few pages. But I mean, I understand that that was inspired by or even inspired is the right word here but King hearing about a woman driving her car into a McDonald's. And then later on. I mean, he actually saw something very similar happened in the news, who he was talking about in the local news. He was at a motel King was and he saw dust already about a woman who had ran her car into a line of job seekers. And it's, it's so kind of terrifying how, like fiction and reality they seem to have so many parallels. And we'll get into it later. But even like the final kind of, like set piece with, with Brady, I mean, when I was reading that, and we've got, you know, a concert goers that are primarily women and young children, it really reminded me of what happened in Manchester, I think in was it about 2017 at the Ariana Grande concert. And so I have to ride read, I had to check the timing on that. But you know, that happened. Three years or so later. Also, the timing occurred as such that this book when so I think King had started writing it in 2012. And then about three months before it came out there was you know, what went down at the Boston Marathon. So he'd of course written it before, but I think like King was quite I mean, he described that the Boston Marathon bombings as to creepily close for comfort. He said, and yeah, this. I mean, we've seen before as well, like with, like, like movies and books, they've had to change the marketing because something has happened that has been too close to reality. I know we've Adam levels, the rich Hill something happened in like Vegas a shooting and they they had on the movie marketing saying something like should have gone to Vegas. And they don't we're gonna get rid of that now. We're not gonna run into Vegas.

Bob Pastorella 22:16

I don't remember that. Yeah, yeah. You know, and one of the things I was just, you know, it's like it, king was very prescient, and how we say this word, he's kind of predicting what we're seeing right now. And here's the thing, but not really. Because after 911. You know, I remember watching on news, and he said, you know, that people were like, the, you know, the people overseas and everything are our biggest threat. And his terrorism expert, a US terrorism expert said no, they're not. domestic terrorism is our biggest threat has been and will be. And dammit. It's true. Yeah. And, you know, and so reading this book, and we talked about, you know, you have Bill, who you mean, granted, he's fought. He but kings ability to even like with Augie, and the people and opening scene, he has an ability to quickly make you relate to someone. Okay, and that makes for compelling characters, which is why you give a shit about him. We give a shit about Bill because we can relate to him. We know what it feels like to lose, we know what it feels like to rehab, it's something right there in the palm of your hand, and you just can't figure it out. No matter if it's something as simple as WHERE'S MY FUCKING glasses, or I'm trying to catch a guy who ran over people. Okay, so we can relate to that where it's very relatable. We can relate to Brady, on a level that we don't like to talk about in public. But if we're honest with ourselves, there are parts of Brady that we can actually relate to, which make us feel disgusted and make us feel sick about ourselves. But at the same time, that's a compelling character. Right? He's not likable, at all. He's not a likable character. He is the perfect example of why you should not write a likeable character. You have to write a compelling character. So he's like, you know, the, and that's why the chapters alternate Bill Brady, Bill Brady, you know, so it's, I think they're, they're two sides of the same coin. And that's, that's that was the impression that I got is like they their flaws complement each other.

Michael David Wilson 24:49

What do you think are some of the relatable aspects of Brady?

Bob Pastorella 24:54

Frustration? In anything fear, anxiety? paranoia. These are these are things that we don't like to talk about. And it's been Oh, it's because you know, in a lot of people who suffer from, you know, mental illnesses and things like that. We, everyone feels anxiety, everyone gets paranoid, everyone gets depressed about things. Everyone has feelings of inadequacy, how we handle these feelings and how we cope with these feelings that make us you know, makes the decision between whether you're going to plow in, you know, plow into a field, or plow into people waiting to get a job in a Mercedes, or you're gonna go about your life, and try to figure out how to make things better. So, that's, that's the those are the things that are relatable, those are things that we all feel, okay. King takes him to an extreme level. Also, one of the things I noticed in reading the book was it kind of answers the question of, hey, are killers? Are they nurtured? Or is it nature and Brady's case, it was nature, he was never raised to be a killer. He was bad from the get go. Mm hmm. I don't think I felt that to his character was completely bad. From the very, very beginning of once he realized that he was a bad person, his life, his home life was absolutely horrendous. But he could have gotten better with that. He could have coped with that. But my feeling is, is that he was evil from the beginning.

Michael David Wilson 26:32

I'm really surprised at that conclusion, and how strongly you're coming out with it. I mean, he lost his father eight. I think there's a very good argument that actually his mom has been abusing him his entire life. I mean, she forced him to kill his mentally handicapped brother. They're in this Norman Bates style relationship where I think she's the instigator. There is a moment where he goes to kiss her cheek. And she responds by slipping her tongue in. Like, I don't know if you caught that. But

Bob Pastorella 27:19

I didn't catch that. I did catch that. But I feel that even when we're when we're reading this section, when he talks about how his father died, and we're reading it as though we're reliving Brady's history, even at such a young age, Brady doesn't care about his father dying. Oh, well, that's it. That's the impression I got. Maybe it hurt him so bad, that he pushed it aside, and didn't care about it no more. He didn't care about the new dad, he didn't care about the babysitter or not the new dad, but mom's new boyfriend. He didn't care about any of that. He had these kind of evil intentions. He didn't care about his brother.

Michael David Wilson 28:05

But this is also all happening while it's still being abused. Like, you know, you say you get maybe it's a little bit difficult to care about things when somebody is frequently abusing you, Bob,

Bob Pastorella 28:19

I understand that. But I don't get the impression that he realized that he was in here's the thing. Yeah, you're putting a lot of things aside. But to me reading the story, I, I felt that he was kind of bad to begin with. Yes, he was being abused. There's no doubt about it. And he probably pushed those memories and refresh those memories back until the point where he wanted to remember them, and wanted to make some significance out of them. But also think that this guy, this is a kid who was probably kind of a bad egg. You know, that's the impression that I got.

Laurel Hightower 28:53

It's it? Well, it's an interesting, you know, like you said, with nature versus nurture, like, it sounds like your conclusion would be that regardless of what sort of home life he had, he was bound to do something like this, that he just sort of had that disconnect, do you is that?

Bob Pastorella 29:08

That's exactly what I'm saying that regardless of what his home life would have been, we're talking about somebody who possibly had a major disconnect, possibly, you know, some type of emotional thing that doesn't relate to anything else. He's just disconnected and doesn't give a shit about anything. And I am a big proponent of most of the time these things happen because of how you're raised. So for me to see that, I don't know if it felt very strong to me. That's my perception of it. So it's not as if I'm right or wrong or anything like that. It's not it's not like that. It's just how I perceived his character that he was bad from the get go.

Laurel Hightower 29:51

I feel like a talk show host Michael, you seem to be disagreeing. I'm like everybody

Bob Pastorella 30:00

He disagrees with everything I say. So

Michael David Wilson 30:03

disagree, I didn't know that we would get into something so heated so early, but I'm here. And, I mean, this is part of a wider conversation that we've touched on before in this as our episodes about whether somebody can be born evil. I'm not sure that I go along with that at all, like, I It's a very bleak view of the world. And I don't like to believe that, you know, this, this child is destined to be a bad person. Of course, you know, sociopathy is reorders the science to prove that but I believe the way in which we not just somebody can certainly affect their actions and who they ultimately turn out to be. So even if we can agree that okay, by a clinical definition, Brady Hartsfield was an is a sociopath, even if we can agree that he's suffering from a lot of mental illness. I can't go along with the idea that whatever had happened to him, whatever family he was born into, he was going to end up being a mass murderer. I just it seemed that conclusion for me seems to defy logic. I don't see how that was always inevitable. Laurel, let's jump in with some of your thoughts.

Laurel Hightower 31:47

I think what I tend to agree that I feel like his his nurture was god awful. And I think it's one of those things that it's so bad and so traumatizing on so many levels. Because whatever his memories are of like, you know, how things were before his father died? Somebody doesn't become that abusive overnight, I don't think as far as his mother's concerned, so I'm sure that it was never awesome. And I don't know, I think when you were talking about the things that we relate with Brady about I feel like one of the first thing that came to my mind was the powerlessness of it. He's powerless. Well, it's, it's, it is interesting, though, and I feel like an Michael, you might, and this isn't, I certainly this isn't gonna come across like, well, if you don't have children, you can possibly understand but it's more one of these things that I feel like, I've thought about a lot more deeply since becoming responsible for you know, the raising of another human is noticing how much Little things can affect them. Just things like and this is, you know, I was reading a book that they that they kind of talked about this and pointed it out, and it kind of blew my mind, they were talking about how when children have what a person would consider a negative emotional reaction, let's say a tantrum. So they lose their temper, you know, they're, they have a fit in public. And the immediate response actually, whether you're in public or not, the immediate response is I want my child to stop crying. And it doesn't have to be a Shut up, you little bastard. But it can be oh my goodness, you're upset, I want you to feel better. And when and he talks about how when we immediately go to that and don't let them just experience that the message that we send is if you are not cheerful, you're not lovable. You know that when you have a tantrum when you have a fit of anger, when you have even a fit of just you know, sadness about something like I'm really wanted that toy and, and I can't have it and those are things that are disappointments, I mean, show me the adult that's never been disappointed because they couldn't get what they wanted. You know, and it's just was very sort of mind blowing to me how like just little things we can do that have a massive impact on children. And so when you think about you know, something larger like that, when you think about, you know, going back to the powerlessness that Brady feels he's felt powerful or powerless his entire life. And then when you put that alongside the powerlessness of the people who are in that line, it is you know, it has so much to do with like, and and yes, the nature nurture argument, I feel like is one that's never going to be resolved because so much so much, you know, goes into it because there's also like the Okay, let's say that, you know, you have two different kids who are both born with like a disconnect that way that would set them up for sociopathy. Although it really I liked your British pronunciation of that better is sociopathy sounds better cleaner? But you know, it's it's just one of these things that like what is what is the magic ingredient? What is the thing and is it simply that they're never shown the right way? Is it simply that they're never given? Any sort of pause? reinforcement any sort of other way to be? You know, I, I feel like I feel like it's it's a lot sort of involved, I don't know. And I'm also now rambling. So sorry.

Michael David Wilson 35:12

It's so really relevant. And I mean, I think as well like, up until a certain age, like, children don't really have empathy on the level that adults do as well. So I mean, if you're kind of enforcing adult standards on the behavior of a child and being polite, that that's looking a little bit sociopathic to me, then you're going to a false conclusion there, I guess. And, I mean, I would say like one of the things that Bob cited is is kind of evidence for this was made here was the reaction. Because you're laughing at me using the word passion, but the reaction to his father's death, and as Bob put it, like, oh, well, he's dead, not but but different people process things in different ways. And maybe even at that age, he's been shown that to give a more visceral or explosive reaction is something that is punished is something that is nailed down. So I feel I just failed. Bob's conclusion is too strong for the evidence presented, I don't think that we can say definitively, this was always his nature, I also don't want to believe it. And I think we can be predisposed to different things. But I think there's a lot within, you know, our environment, that can be the difference between whatever and we go out and kill a load of people overcome the CEO of a corporation. I'm not saying that all CEOs are sociopaths, but,

Laurel Hightower 37:11

but you're not not saying.

Michael David Wilson 37:16

That is a better use of your skills to go out and maybe disagree with a topic for this podcast or whatever. Like

Laurel Hightower 37:31

we'll never even get to Holly if we if we.

Bob Pastorella 37:36

If you how do you gauge at a young age? I don't have children. So I don't know. But how would you gauge at a young age if there is a disconnect, especially if they're affected with grief, if they're affected with a powerlessness of the mom not being able to provide for the family? For mom having inadequate feelings about even sexual feelings or to you know, to her own child? Because she's lonely in and things like that. So how do you know that there wasn't a no, it's duck? Yeah, but But okay, yeah. But

Laurel Hightower 38:09

you're excusing all it's just like, that's not a good reason?

Bob Pastorella 38:13

No, but how do you how do you know if there's the disconnect or not? The thing is, is that you don't, you know, and so, me in my perception, this is not unlike I said, it's not a right or wrong thing, I just feel that there's a possibility that Brady was bad from from the get go, because there was a disconnect there. It was early on. And it may have been brought on by by, by something emotional, but it could have been just a disconnect. It could have been like any type of, you know, any other thing that you would find in any type of mental acuity or mental illness or anything like that. Things are on a sliding scale, he may have been pushed so far over, that he just had a complete, you know, like, almost like a natural disconnect to things. Where I don't I didn't see any type of emotional involvement. Of course, we are getting this kind of from Brady's perspective. So at the time, where his mindset is kind of also, you know, King stain and character here, you know, so it is nihilistic it is it is very, I don't know, I found it very captivating reading. But I just got into the impression that he was bad.

Laurel Hightower 39:30

He's certainly not sympathetic. He's, I think it's an interesting way that king does that. Because it's like, you know, he does great with like, this isn't just a one dimensional like, he's bad because I say he's bad. You know, it's it's, you're seeing his his home life. You're seeing the way that he is, but he's so unpleasant to everyone that he deals with and it's like, you can look and be like, Oh, they're okay. That's an awful life. You know that he's living in the but it's also just like, you don't like him anyway, like, there's no part of me He wants to be like, Gee, I wonder if we could get you some counseling. It's more like, oh, please stay away. You know, you're just his thoughts about his coworkers, his thoughts about, you know, his his innate bigotry, all of that kind of stuff is so off putting. And he just doesn't you know, he he doesn't have any redeeming qualities I feel like, right.

Michael David Wilson 40:20

Yeah. Yeah. Do you think that Brady's mother has killed before, you know that the brother is killed because I there's just something about the way that it's described, it almost seems clinical and light. This was not her first rodeo. And you know that the whole character is a red flag. So I think there's a possibility. And maybe we'll never know this. And his loved ones like actually, you find out in the second book, which you have read, but I feel will never quite know. You know, what was the mother a kind of bigger serial killer than then Brady, but she was better at her job. She was never caught.

Laurel Hightower 41:15

I would say and I know, you didn't really ask it as a question. But like if you know, as far as like, do we think this is the first time she's killed? I'd say it's not the first time she has coerce someone into doing her bidding that that was completely, you know, lacking in any more out. Yeah, thank you. Yeah. That's, that's the impression that I get from her. But, you know, because cuz she doesn't seem very hands on. So she just seems incredibly manipulative. Yeah,

Bob Pastorella 41:41

that's the that's the impression I got to I mean, I would be, I would be almost shocked if you if she had actually killed someone, you know, her own self without having someone else do it for you know, this scene with Frankie is very, it's a very rough scene. It's very bad scene. It's an important thing. But I had a hard time doing it. And so I read the book and listen to the audio book at the same time. So I was reading and then when I couldn't actually hold a book in my hand or home, I Kinema. Hannah was actually listened to it. And I was glad I had real Patton with me to take me through this because he's phenomenal in these books. And he's a great actor. And he handled it very well. I think that if I actually would have not heard a voice in my head and just heard a narrator's voice in my head reading it, then it would probably would have really been rough for me. Because those scenes are rough. They're really rough.

Laurel Hightower 42:47

Team definitely doesn't shy away from the rough parts. No,

Michael David Wilson 42:50

no. And I think we should touch on to that. I mean, we've Mercedes, we later find out it was stolen. It was Olivia pelonis, Mercedes. And then, like Olivia is treatment is, is terrible. Like she becomes a scapegoat, who, like there is severe victim blaming from the entire town, including Bill, and she's driven to suicide. And, I mean, yeah, this was like kind of one of the first points where it's like, oh, Bill has some things that he needs to work on. Now. I would say again, that he, he becomes aware of that, at the end, he realizes what he's done. But I mean, I don't even really know what there is to say about the treatment of Olivia but it was incredibly uncomfortable reading as of course, it was the intention of King but I felt that there almost became more emphasis to for some captors on Olivia as mistakes rather than the fact that there was somebody who has literally gone out there and murdered a bunch of people.

Laurel Hightower 44:19

I think I really appreciated the way he hid that though, because, you know, Bill is definitely contributed to that. But I thought it was interesting the way that even before he really gets going on this, he admits to himself, he's like, Yeah, I didn't like her. I did not like her. And that made it easy for me to want to throw some of this at her door. You know, he's looking at all the little quirks about her that make her unlikable. She's, you know, she's very out of touch. She's pretty selfish. And, you know, she's got these obnoxious little things, these little tics and these quirks and stuff that he doesn't it's so interesting the way that I don't know that that he becomes aware Are that like, oh, you know what, the fact that I didn't like all these little things about her. And the fact that I so easily easily reached, you know, leapt to this conclusion of really disliking this woman and knowing that his partner was also not unbiased in that. And, you know, sort of reflecting on like, that might be where we fucked up, you know, is that we did, because yeah, I mean, you're right, Michael, I hadn't even really thought about that. Like, why did they spend so much downtime, like questioning or like, okay, maybe she lied about the key? Maybe she didn't, you know, she's not the one that drove the car into the people. So let it go.

Michael David Wilson 45:31

Yeah. Yeah.

Bob Pastorella 45:34

I think that and I don't know, I don't know how they do it in criminal investigations. And obviously, they were investigating a crime. But I mean, one of the things that comes up in crimes like this is, at least from from my experience on it is negligence. So they could be looking at it from you know, hey, you were you were you were negligent near and you weren't guilty, but you let you gave the guilty party a path. So your negligence led to this. So that was that was that was my impression of it. And she you know, when nobody likes dealing with the police, nobody does. And then you don't want to be on the other side of that table. You don't want to be talking to them answering questions, because they're going to scrutinize every single way, what you say and how you say it. And when you have somebody who's never been questioned by the police, who has her own little idiosyncrasies and things like that, then the police begin to suspect that possibly she's not telling the truth, or she can't remember, and it's very aggravating everything like that. And they don't like you to begin with that. You know, that they should have just left her alone. Because that just debt contributed to her suicide as much as Brady did. I mean, it's just, you know, they were barking up the wrong tree with that they had no reason to do it, other than the only thing I could think of is they were trying to establish some sense of negligence. That was the only impression I had on that.

Michael David Wilson 47:11

So let's talk about the correspondence between the Mercedes killer Brady and Bill Hodges. So I mean, that this starts off with Brady have, effectively taunting hard years and telling him to kill himself and telling him, you know, his life is a failure. And he hasn't caught him. And it's, yeah, it's very true to a lot of serial killers and a lot of cases that we've seen before.

Laurel Hightower 47:45

Yeah, and the element of responsibility with respect to driving someone else to take their own life is I've always thought that's a very poignant and, you know, fairly complicated issue, I guess. I mean, on on the face of it doesn't seem like it's complicated. It's like, Dude, you did this, you're, you know, you're guilty, you suck. But it, you know, there's it just I know, it can't be viewed exactly the same way. But the I thought it was really interesting. The way that he attempted to disguise his speaking and writing patterns. So, you know, effectively with, because, yeah, he gives a very different impression of himself. In the letters that he sends, and of course, his the impression he gives him the letter he sends Olivia toolani is completely different as well. Yeah, I think the correspondence aspect of it is very interesting.

Michael David Wilson 48:38

Yeah. Yeah. And with regards to the writing, as soon as it became obvious that he was trying to disguise himself, it just sent my brain kind of down a rabbit hole wondering like, Okay, what parts of this are real, what parts aren't? And you know, even with the classic PARCC purposes, like is, is this deliberate? Is this unintentional? And then, you know, I mean, everything he writes, apart from that, it's very precise. So, you know, grammatically, and then in terms of spelling and things, but I, I was kind of waiting for him to throw like another kind of odd odd ball in just to see if it could catch be a laugh. I was also wondering, you know, because we've seen this before, are we going to have like, kind of copycat correspondents are we going to get a fake letter at any point from someone who wants to be the Mercedes killer, but no, that that didn't happen? But I did wonder if we were going to go down that line.

Laurel Hightower 49:52

Yeah, that would have probably added a good 50 pages minimum. Yeah, I would say

Michael David Wilson 49:57

yeah, yeah. And I mean, of course, rather than Bill turning the letter over to his partner to Pete Huntley, he decided to No, this is, this is for me to investigate. So I mean, that's, that's like a constant, like tug of war between Brady and Bill for power and who has the upper hand, they're both constantly trying to outdo each other. But I mean, Brady, one in a sense of giving, build the bait to take and, you know, he decided, yeah, I am going to investigate him. But then I mean, we also know from builds character that like, well, he's probably the most competent person or the person most capable of actually being able to cap cure, Brady, but I think that was part of the thrill. That was part of the game for him.

Laurel Hightower 51:03

Well, that and Brady did the opposite of what he intended. Initially, he was hoping he could just sort of push him over the edge to suicide, and it did the opposite. And I think a big part of the reason the impression I get is a big part of the reason bill doesn't turn over the letter is because he doesn't want this new lease on life. He's had this new motivation to do something other than what he's been doing. He doesn't want to let go of that he's been reawakened, and he doesn't want to. He doesn't want to step back from that.

Bob Pastorella 51:35

Yeah, I feel the same way. I mean, it was to me that in the book, he, he was right there, if he wanted to get that letter, now sort of been a very short and said, you know, short story. About, you know, the end, it would probably would have been a lot more a lot less actually. But it's like, yeah, this happened. And then this happened, and and then the end. So this reawakening and also this, detectives have a sense of pride that they don't like to lose, then like to figure it out. There's a puzzle. And it's, it's, it's a moral play, and they have to figure it out. And when you can't figure out one, it's like, it's like, you know, the only way I can describe it, it's like losing something that you need, and you have no idea where it went, and you've rattled your brain. And then you get some clue years later, that could lead you to the thing that you lost, you know, and you're like, oh, man, you're not going to tell a soul about it, because you're got it now. You know. And so there's that pride thing, you know, and I can imagine it's only more stronger. If you're a detective, you know, then you've spent years doing this, and you've collared so many criminals. And then all of a sudden, you get this one and you just can't get it. Man. That's G's back in the hunt. That's the way I see it any Hang on, let it go.

Laurel Hightower 53:10

It's his identity. Exactly. It's he's he's regained that sense of identity. I work for lawyers. And it is very, very common to have a very hard time getting lawyers out of the saddle. Like they will just because that's, you know, when they consider so many will consider retirement and then come back and then retire and then come back. And it's, it's that sense of worth, I guess.

Michael David Wilson 53:32

Is this kind of something that you apply specifically to criminal law? Or do you think is kind of across the spectrum to all lawyers?

Laurel Hightower 53:44

It feels across the spectrum? I don't, I don't, I'm not gonna say it's every lawyer because I definitely have known some lawyers who were like middle fingers, and they're like, bye, guys. You're not gonna hear me again. And you know, and you don't and I applaud that. But no, and I don't I don't actually do criminal law. So these are, these are more just folks. I think that it's just it's been their life, you know, and it's part of where when you built that way up in the firm, people look up to you. Pardon me? That always happens when you're talking. You just get choked on your self. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 54:15

the amount of time that I carry on my own. So live rent. I'm like, how am I not learn to be a human being yet? It's like, what did you choke on? My own saliva? That is?

Laurel Hightower 54:31

What did you trip on my other foot? That wasn't expecting it to be there, you know?

Bob Pastorella 54:39

And you get my age, the ground comes up a lot faster. It's like when you were a kid and you fell like you tripped over your own foot. The ground was so slow, you floated down. It was amazing. Now it's just like, Damn, it's like it's like, it's not even seconds. It's like, you fall and there's the ground. Yeah, yesterday You have to look forward to

Laurel Hightower 55:01

well, but you know from from Stephen King's perspective, or I guess Bill Hodges, what when you're a woman in your 40s it's amazing if you would actually want to sit in bright sunlight. I read that line and thought it was hysterical. It just made me think of it and you're like, oh, yeah, my agent and he's like, oh, yeah, she's a woman in her 40s not afraid to sit in bright sunlight. I'm like, are we? Are we vampires? Are we just once we reach a certain age that we must have some height? I just thought it was like, but yeah, it's, you know, kind of goes into that. Mild misogyny you miss a little bit of a hard time, but I just thought that I wrote the line down because I thought it was so funny. I'm like, Yeah, okay.

Michael David Wilson 55:41

But I mean, talking about the letters. And I mentioned, braid is self awareness. I mean, there's a bit in, in one of the letters, like, I mean, literally, in chapter one, where he says, Now you're probably thinking, What kind of sick and twisted Pervo do we have here? And then he goes on to talk about not having a conscience. And, like, I found that that was, yeah, he kind of knows what his nature is, or he at least knows how people perceive him. Whereas, you know, when you're seeing Hodges, like, make these comments about 40 year old women. I'm not sure that he's aware of what he's doing. They're probably not Yeah, I think King is probably aware, you know, because of the way that he concludes.

Laurel Hightower 56:40

I suspect, if he wasn't aware of Tabitha would make him aware, because I'm sure she reads his stuff. And she would be like, I'm sure this is not how you personally think. Right, Steve? Of course not honey, never. Yeah.

Bob Pastorella 56:57

He's a well rounded character. I mean, we're talking about Bill. Yeah. And so and there's got to be parts of that character that we don't agree with or don't align with or don't like, you know, I didn't I don't try not to be very misogynist. I grew up around that atmosphere, and it's always made me feel uncomfortable. I don't like it. It's not it's disrespectful. It's, it's not healthy. And so I recognize it very quickly. And Bill, Bill's, you know, he's very misogynistic. But he's also by himself. You know, I'm saying is that Kevin a little slack, you sit by yourself, you ain't got no main relationship, you kind of get a little. You're a little biased, right? They use a well rounded character. He but I mean, some of the things he says were cringy just cringed. Sorry.

Laurel Hightower 57:57

But I liked I liked that, though. Because I, I really prefer a flawed protagonist. And these aren't flaws. Like, I kind of like had, you wouldn't really consider an argument. But I was talking with a friend of mine about reading and like, she was like, you know, I love reading JD Rob, because you know, the character is flawed, and like she's flawed because she doesn't like kids. And she cusses but otherwise, she's dropped dead. Gorgeous, has the perfect life. You know, all this stuff. And like, that's not a flaw. That's like, when people are like, oh, yeah, she's clumsy, because she falls over. That makes her awkward. It's like, No, put a little more thought into this. And the flaws that he puts into these spokes are there. I don't know, they seem a lot more human. Because the whole thing with like, Hodges is that yeah, he's a victim of his own life, you know, who he grew up around the job that he's done his his age, you know, he's in his 60s, and he has interacted with women a certain way. And I, you know, the, the age of the protagonist, and this is one of the things that I like, and the fact that his love interest is, you know, not not a 20 year old, you know, I really enjoy reading. Because, you know, we're, I'm not 20 And, you know, I'm I'm going to anyways, I like reading you know more about like older characters, son, because I don't know, I like having that whole panoply. That's probably not the right use of that word. But anyway,

Bob Pastorella 59:23

yeah, it's very refreshing. Yeah. Me, you know, I know exactly how it feels. Because, I mean, I'm older and I'm older and it's refreshing to see that people in their 50s 60s 70s can still be a protagonist still be strong still be good. When there's just so much of a glut of fiction where all the heroes are in their 20s I'm like, Hey, man, my 20s and long time I can think about it.

Laurel Hightower 59:52

I like the romance of it too, though. I like it's just, you know, in particular, I am a sucker for romance. Like I love it. You know, it's one of my favorite elements of stories when it's included. But I like you know, when he hooks up with Janie like, it's awkward, like it's, you know, her her sweater gets stuck on her hair clip and you know, just all this stuff and I'm just like, yeah, like, I don't know, I like the humanity of it. I like, Yeah, I like all those things. It's like, yeah, these are these are just people fucking up a lot. So

Michael David Wilson 1:00:21

yeah, I think the relationship between Hodges and Janie is very endearing. It's very sweet. And, I mean, I mean, of course, they meet up because, you know, she she hires him to investigate the suicide of her sister Olivia and the theft of the Mercedes. But so, so awkward circumstances to me. But yeah, there's something about their relationship and their interactions with each other. And, I mean, even like, their first sexual encounter is like, you could have gone a really kind of cliched path. And particularly with the kind of hints at borderline misogyny, but you know, actually that first encounter Jane is like, No, this one is from me. Doing it from me. I have not had sex in a long time. I am going to orgasm this is going to be pleasurable, you just fucking stay there. Next time you get to do your thing, but just let me have this one.

Bob Pastorella 1:01:42

There's a brutal honesty and then that you have to admire because you don't see that. In other words, it just makes it real. You know? When you have people who are like who can't express the Jain Janie's brutally honest person, even after that Saint, you know, and she's like, you know, basically, you know, I'll risk you even being on top, but you gotta lose 20 pounds. Yeah.

Laurel Hightower 1:02:09

Let's, let's do touch on the whole fat phobia thing. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. It's all for this is it's uh,

Bob Pastorella 1:02:22

but I mean, you know, here's the thing, like I said, builds builds a well rounded character in more ways than one. He's, he's a big man. He's, he's put on a couple of pounds. I've been there. You know, I've had doctors shame me because I was overweight. You know. So I mean, it hurts.

Michael David Wilson 1:02:42

I think it is bizarre, because also like, you know, there's a thing about you know, she typically prefers bigger men and Advent, but then like, she's like, You need to lose 20 pounds to be on top. It's like the the logistically know how this could work? Do you? Right,

Laurel Hightower 1:03:09

yeah. I mean, I'm also trying to picture how that atmosphere changes, because, you know, it's just, I mean, what? As a woman, somebody says that to me, um, I'm not gonna even put on my clothes before I slam out if they're like, you know, you. Yeah, so I don't know. I guess it's just like, really? Is that how that would go? Okay, sure. I don't know. It. Seems like it's a little bit of a mood killer, but I don't know. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 1:03:42

Yeah, I mean, it's not gonna be a mood enhancer. I'm not gonna get more turned on. Me keep doing it.

Bob Pastorella 1:03:56

Is to be brutally honest. is brutally honest. But then it goes. off the deep end. Yeah.

Laurel Hightower 1:04:06

Well Janie's clearly flawed too.

Michael David Wilson 1:04:07

So. Yeah. Yeah. I'm not sure about the reaction because, like, on one hand, yeah, it's not going to feel great. Yeah, having somebody insult you like that

Laurel Hightower 1:04:24

when you're naked. Out. But

Michael David Wilson 1:04:27

on the other hand, I think he really, he really enjoys having sex with Jamie. So I'm trying to weigh up. Like, how would How would I figure out like, how much is he into? I think like, I do think you're right that like if it's a woman getting that from a man, she's out of there, but like, do not underestimate how much men think. It's like oil. Like Right comment but Round Round

Bob Pastorella 1:05:09

one a great comment, but you know what? I'm gonna let down one slide

Michael David Wilson 1:05:13

or two. What's your? What's your reaction in this situation?

Bob Pastorella 1:05:23

Oh, man. I mean, I know how I would react. My reaction would probably be well, yeah, yeah, you might so slim either. But he's

Laurel Hightower 1:05:33

definitely helped the mood like, oh, yeah,

Bob Pastorella 1:05:36

exactly, exactly. It's like, why would you even go there? You know, if things were really, really great. I'd be probably tempted to go You're right. You're exactly right. I'm going to Monday.

Laurel Hightower 1:05:50

I'll just stay down here.

Bob Pastorella 1:05:51

Yeah. You know, you're exactly right. I don't want to argue depends and depends on situations. You know. I think that a poor Bill maybe in a situation like man ain't saying shit. I ain't saying shit because I ain't got shit in a while. So I'm gonna stick with what I got right now and just go part of this

Laurel Hightower 1:06:19

episode release. You need to add a poll to it. Like what's your risk

I feel like I got it on this train. And I should volunteer to sum up get away from

Michael David Wilson 1:06:37

Oh, we should do a Twitter and eggs poll on this. See? What's your reaction? situation? Do you a

Bob Pastorella 1:06:51

you know, I've been looking for an excuse to leave Twitter. So yeah,

Laurel Hightower 1:06:55

you're gonna do that and it never answers.

Bob Pastorella 1:07:00

I'll be gone before that happened. Yeah, he brings it over to police guy you fuck. Quit dragging me

Michael David Wilson 1:07:08

that then worry Bob. I don't think I don't think you can do pose on blue sky. You're safe that Michael would figure out how to do

Bob Pastorella 1:07:17

one. Look what I figured out.

Michael David Wilson 1:07:21

Well, I mean, do do we jump in to the funeral and the car do we jump into the introduction of holly at this point? I mean, is interested in Holly becomes such a pivotal character, not just for the story, but for Stephen King as a whole because her introduction is very muted. Like she's introduced as Janie's cousin, we're told a little a little bit about her that she speaks with a matter and no eye contact with Tony, she doesn't have any of his senses, akin to a spin so we can gloss over that for now.

Laurel Hightower 1:08:13

Bill? Good, good observations, Bill. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 1:08:18

But we just get this this little bit of not glowing detail about her. But then there must be 40 or 50 pages where she's not mentioned again. And then by the time she is mentioned again, now she's becoming like it. Yeah, like much more pivotal character to King and to tell the story. I wonder, I wonder if King envisaged how vital Holly was going to become, to his his overall kind of works at this point, because it was interesting that we, we got a little bit of, and then 40 pages with nothing.

Laurel Hightower 1:09:00

Yeah, I was I I imagine he didn't know. I don't, you know, and I mean, you guys have probably had that happen to where you think somebody's like a side character. And then they're like, actually, no, I'm actually a main character. And you're going to find that out because I'm not going to leave the story alone. And so I always think that's kind of fun when that happens. Yeah,

Bob Pastorella 1:09:20

it is. It's real fun. I actually think that's exactly what happened that he intended, in his mind, maybe that she wasn't going to be you know, any more than, you know, a maybe just another character. But something about her picked his interest in meaning rewired how he wanted to do the story. That's that's how I envision it maybe maybe that's right, maybe that's wrong. And that's how I see that she, she was more than an afterthought. And I mean, I'm glad because we get to see her arc as we go through this and it's it's It says bad, it's incredible as bills, you know, and we see her change within this knob. Once she is given purpose, there's nothing she can't do. And the same with Bill, you know, other than, you know, getting a heart attack, but yeah. But uh, you know, purpose means a lot to these characters having a sense of worth, you know that that's important to him, even to Brady. Yeah. You know, in a sick and twisted way.

Michael David Wilson 1:10:35

Yeah. What's your initial reaction to Holly? And I mean, we were only going to be talking in terms of Mr. Mercedes we'd like, I don't know if Brad is going to make it difficult for Laurel, who's read far more, but you're gonna have to cast your mind back to when you hadn't read. Any of the things were falling I suppose the same with Bob, you said you've read the outsider.

Laurel Hightower 1:11:03

I well, and I it's been a while since I've read them now. So I feel like you know, Mr. Mercedes, I've been rereading in preparation for this. So I feel like that's much fresher in my mind. Anyway. But yeah, I don't know. I think I feel like initially and I'm gonna go ahead and put this out here. I bill Hodges, also is one of my literary crushes. So that probably like filters, some ways about how but I, in part, when when I read it for the first time, I was so like, upset about Janie, because I'm thinking like, oh, cool, okay, he's gonna have this love interest. You know, this is great. Like, he's had this kind of lonely life. And then when what happens to her does, and I was just like, the fuck did you just do? Yeah. So then when they bring Holly in, and the way that they that she's compared to Janie, and I'm like, Well, this is not a genie replacement. This is bullshit. You know, like he got and I was seeing more in terms of that and like, Who are these fucking people? You know, like, because I'm thinking that Janie's gonna play this big role. And then she doesn't accept, I guess, is a little bit more of an impetus. So, and yeah, I mean, awesome. Maybe that was intentional, too, you know, because that's essentially in a way how Bill's gonna be feeling too. He's, you know, he's lost someone, which I think, again, is part of why I really love this story. I love the brilliance of that of his, you know, because he doesn't do the Insta love thing. He doesn't go like, Oh my God, you're my soulmate. It's more just like, wow, I got to have sex. And that was unexpected. Cool, you know? Oh, you're hot. This is great. We seem to be getting along this Whoa, fuck me. That's over now. Okay. And, you know, so he's kind of like the fact that he has to conceal that any of that happened at all, as things go on to. I feel like it's really is really touching that adds, you know, more layers to him. But But yeah, I mean, I feel like it definitely colored my perception of holly initially and probably Hodges as well.

Michael David Wilson 1:12:55

Yeah. Did you feel that hot? Were you surprised that like Hodges after the death of Janie is kind of more business as usual? There's not there's not a lot of time for grief. Or do you think? I mean, I can see how it does kind of fit his personality and exactly the type of person he is. And probably there's a lot of grief, but it's not on the page because he has to present as this kind of no nonsense guy and he does still have this you know, these models to investigate, but you know, it obviously ups the stakes, it makes it as personal as it could have been, but I don't know we don't see. We don't see as much grief as perhaps I would have expected but I I guess like he could just be focused on like, look, I've got to get this guy now.

Laurel Hightower 1:13:59

Well, and in a way he's also kind of trying to see why because if he admits or goes into the fact that he was having a relationship with her at all, that puts him in a lot deeper shit with Huntley and Isabel so I feel like in some ways, it's kind of self preservation and a way to keep his hand in the investigation because if he gets yanked out of it, because they've determined he's, you know, he's too involved or he committed some some indiscretions there, then he doesn't get to be involved in it. He doesn't get to, I don't know what it feels like motivation. And also, you know, and I don't I know, you certainly can't make like, assumptions based solely on gender, but he's a little bit older dude. He's very traditional in his mindset, and I know like, I have commonly seen it in men that I know that something will happen a loss a major loss and they go immediately into, alright, what needs to be done. You know, I'm going In a resolve these things we're gonna get, you know, the funeral over and the paperwork and all this stuff. And in my experience I have often seen, I guess, not just many, there are people who are used to taking charge and used to being responsible for things not falling apart until the second that they're not needed anymore. Like, as soon as that happens, then everything hits at once. So that was kind of the impression I got from for as far as how he processed that.

Bob Pastorella 1:15:27

Do you compartmentalize, I did the same thing when my father died. My mom was not in a good place. And I wasn't either, but somebody had to guide. And so me and my sister and my brother in law took charge, you know, and I didn't really have a any type of any type of grief, or anything like that until, until I read to my family what I was gonna read at my father's funeral. And that's when I had, you know, the time to do it. But I didn't have before that I didn't have time, man because shit had to be done. That we had everything in order. It's just you know, and we were prepared for this. But so I can relate to that. That's a you know, compartmentalization that that people have not just men, but anybody. You know, my sister's almost in she she's actually worse than I am. You know, when it comes to that. And you know, because me and her she's Are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay? He says like, I'm going to handle this and mine my way. And you're going to handle this in your way. And but right now we just need to get, you know, we're going to have our stuff together. So we can just get this passed. And that's, I think that's where he was coming from. My only bad thing about the book, though, is that there should have been a little bit more grief. I'm sorry. Just, you know, I think there there could have been and I'm not talking about the famous shower decompression scene or anything like that. No, I am talking about is that possibly after that long, terrible day, that we see him actually go home and we we do have a brief moment where he cries in the hallway. But, um, to me, I think he would have had a lot more impact if he finally made it home and just collapsed on the floor and rolled up in fetal position. And you know, and not moved. That would have, you know, if I have any thing about the book that I really didn't like, if we didn't see that, that would have really cool man that had been a turd tear jerker for me, right there. Yeah. But I mean, it's, nothing's perfect. I didn't write it. You know, and I probably wouldn't have thought of it either. You know, but that's Hindsight is 2020.

Michael David Wilson 1:17:51

Right. I mean, yeah. When when Holly was introduced, I didn't see her as being a replacement for Janie. I mean, I don't think anyone could replace Janie King has done this marvelous thing where he? I almost I wanted them to be soulmates. So he did it again, where it was just absolutely crushing. I did not expect that to happen. I didn't think that we were gonna lose Jamie.

Laurel Hightower 1:18:25

And so horribly to

Michael David Wilson 1:18:27

Yeah, yeah. And oh, that. Yeah. The moment I haven't got it in front of me. But like, I think her last moment is she hears like, builds ringtone, and it makes us smile, and then boom, the car blows up.

Laurel Hightower 1:18:47

She's wearing his hat as she's wearing

Michael David Wilson 1:18:49

a fedora. Yeah, she's

Bob Pastorella 1:18:52

wearing this fedora.

Michael David Wilson 1:18:53

God. He didn't even get the fedora, which is like if he'd if he'd have had it that that would be like you're in like the central place in your apartment. Fedora.

Laurel Hightower 1:19:09

He didn't pull the Indiana Jones and snatch it off of her corpse before it had a chance to generate

Michael David Wilson 1:19:16

notice in the office preferred edition

Bob Pastorella 1:19:24

when law said that, you know, Holly knew Laguna Hills, Holly was introducing Holly. She's not like a genie surrogate or anything like that. Meeting me immediately made me think of Beer Fest. And when landfill died, and his cousin comes up who's played by the same actors and y'all can call me landfill too. I don't know why I thought that it's like it was like when I mean call me Jamie if you want to then have been like really make things easier for EP Yeah.

Laurel Hightower 1:20:00

It's never a bad time to bring up beers best

Michael David Wilson 1:20:08

thank you so much for listening to This Is Horror. Now, as you could probably tell, that is not the end of the unboxing of Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. Because it's such an epic tome that we're going to have to do this over multiple parts. So join us again next time. We'll be back including Laurel Hightower. We'll be talking more Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. But if you want to get that and every other episode ahead of the crowd, come on Patreon. A patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. You'll also be able to submit questions to each and every interviewee coming up soon we've got Richard's MA and he co wrote Windows button box with Stephen King. So if you're a king fan, you're going to want to check that one out too. Okay, before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 1:22:01

As always, I would like to end with a quote and this is from Albert Camus. Without freedom, no art, our lives only in the restraints it imposes upon itself and dies of all others. I'll see you in the next episode for the second part the unboxing of Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. But until then, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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