Review of 'The Outsider'

The Outsider by Stephen King

the_outsider.jpg In the town of Flint City the body of Frank Peterson is found in the woods having been brutally attacked. There is incontrovertible proof that much loved Coach Terry Maitland has committed the crime: Eye-witnesses that spotted him helping the boy into the van with his bicycle, the same van found to contain DNA matching Maitland as well as more DNA on the body also matching the coach. On this evidence and fear for the other children of the town Detective Ralph Anderson makes the decision to arrest the coach in front of the whole town during a critical playoff game. The problem is that conflicting and equally concrete evidence is found by Anderson himself placing Maitland many miles away in Cap City at a conference at the exact time the crime committed. After Maitland is killed on the steps of the courthouse by Paterson's elder brother Anderson is put on “administrative leave” but he can't put this case to bed: How can someone be in two places at the exact same time?

“The Outsider” starts with such great promise: Evidence showing one person was in two places at once. How could this be resolved? Before you read on, skip to the next paragraph if you don't want a bit of a spoiler. Ok, are you sure you want to know more? Right, well, if you are fans of King you will likely be familiar with “Finders Keepers”, a private investigation group that gets involved with many supernatural mysteries. When Holly Gibney from “Finders Keepers” is introduced about half way into the story it was clear we were going to stray away from the more “normal” mystery and into the realm of the fantastic and indeed, I was right. This was a bit of a disappoint to me as I was hoping there would be some non-fantastic way the detective would astound us with that would solve the problem in a somewhat more…non-fantastic way. But, as it is, the supernatural was introduced and, of course, all rules go out the window as we are introduced to the idea of “The Outsider”, the killer of Frank Paterson. It is a bit of a cop-out if you ask me.

As you might expect, the prose is excellent and very easy to read though suspense is not really there with the mystery solved fairly early on leaving us only waiting for the capture of the culprit in the final portion of the book. There is a fair amount of visceral, personal violence as well along the way, trademark King, which hammers home as this is done to the characters he has made us care about. The characters are all well defined but spring a few surprises along the way to keep us reading.

Another page-turner from the master with his flair for capturing the essence of contemporary culture with believable characters but with his trademark touch of the fantastic. The only disappointment is the lack of any real mystery after the first 2/3 of the book…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-04-25

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 2018

ISBN: 9781473676398

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