The Outsider by Stephen King

"The supernatural may exist in books and movies but not in the real world."

Although Stephen King is known mostly for his horror-filled novels that feature the kind of supernatural monsters that keep us awake long after we finish reading them, his most recent books have focussed more on the nightmares of the real world. With his latest release, The Outsider, King again roots his story in an unthinkable reality. The quiet town of Flint City has been rocked by the gruesome discovery of a murdered child. The scene is grim. The boy was sexually violated, murdered, and unceremoniously left in the city park. Only a monster could commit a crime so heinous. Fortunately for law enforcement, they have enough irrefutable evidence to lock that monster up for a very long time.

Terry Maitland is a pillar of his community. He's a loving father, husband, and teacher. Terry is in the midst of coaching the local Little League team into a championship game. The entire town is watching with respect and admiration. Suddenly the townspeople see this affection turn to confusion and disbelief. Detective Ralph Anderson arrives at the field with police lights flashing. He approaches Terry, reads his rights, and cuffs Terry's hands behind his back. With the whole town looking on in bewilderment, Terry is arrested for the appalling murder of the young boy.

Authorities know the case is a lock. It is hard to believe such a well-regarded citizen could commit such an unimaginable crime, but the evidence doesn't lie. If the multiple witnesses seeing a blood-soaked Terry leaving the park aren't enough, the DNA evidence placing him at the scene should solidify his guilt. There's only one glaring problem. Terry and his team have an equal amount of irrefutable evidence that points to his innocence. He wasn't even in Flint City during the murder. How can a man be in two places at once?!

I've always been a fan of Stephen King. I know he's seen as one of the greatest horror authors of all time, but I'd argue he is one of the greatest authors period. His penchant for well-drawn characters and intriguing plotting defies the confines of genre and makes his writing some of the best in modern literature. The first half of The Outsider solidifies this point. King presents Terry's situation in a way that allows the reader to empathize with both sides of the situation. Detective Anderson is dealing with the shock of seeing evidence that reveals an upstanding citizen and friend to be a murderer. On the other side, Terry is desperately trying to prove his innocence. He even has evidence that cements his alibi. King masterfully keeps the pages turning as he explores this impossible situation.

The second half of the book sees the narrative shift in a way that takes away a bit from the drama of what precedes it. It almost reads as if King wasn't sure how to explain the impossibility himself. To be fair, the ending is still well written, but I left me wanting a little bit more. King continues to build his own world by incorporating a character from his Bill Hodges trilogy. Having read many of King's novels, it is always fun to spot little easter eggs from his other works. The Outsider falters a bit in the end, but it is still a reminder of Stephen King's extraordinary storytelling prowess.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2018, 36)

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11, 2018 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

4 Responses to “The Outsider by Stephen King”

  1. Love this review, great read! I love the detectives struggle in most books and movies, gotta read this one! -Jarrod B. ��

    1. This one was especially good because both the detective and the suspect had equally strong evidence supporting their claims!

  2. I loved this one. I saw an interview he did where he talks about the idea for the story and his reasonings. While the ending left you wanting, this was a hit for me.

    1. I saw a few interviews with King speaking about this one too! I guess the mystery fan in me was really wanting a logical conclusion. I should have known King would take things somewhere out of the box!


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