Book review: The Outsider by Stephen King

Sunday, June 3, 2018 Permalink

Stephen King is a very gifted writer. I suspect I – and many others – have been distracted over the years by his plots and quirky / endearing /  just pure evil characters… that it’s easy to forget how effortlessly engaging his writing can be.

It was something that struck me most in his new novel, The Outsider, which is predominantly centred around new character and local cop Ralph Anderson, although King later introduces Holly Gibney – who regular readers met in the Mr Mercedes / Finders Keepers / End of Watch series.

Book review: The Outsider by Stephen KingThe Outsider
by Stephen King
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
on May 22nd 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Paranormal / Fantasy / Sci Fi, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1473676401, 9781473676404
Pages: 496

When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town's popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.

Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King's propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

Like the Bill Hodges series, we’re given a few lead characters here. It’s probably something that I love and hate equally. I commented in my review of Finders Keepers that I was a bit taken aback when Bill, Holly et al appeared quite late in the novel. I’d already ‘found’ the lead characters…. I didn’t have the heart-space to care about newcomers.

Holly is weirdly delightful though I’d not remembered much about her from Finders Keepers or End of Watch. She arrives halfway through the book, but we’ve been pretty much kept engaged via Ralph Anderson, a good cop who has some regrets about his role in the murder investigation and arrest of his former friend.

The crime for which Maitland is charged is pretty grisly. And we later learn it’s not the first of its kind.

Ralph (like me) struggles to wrap his head around something he can’t explain with good ole’ logic, but Holly’s seen the inexplicable before and eventually the evidence is irrefutable… things that can’t possibly happen, happen.

Although I love King’s writing and enjoy some of his twisty thrillers, I struggle when he moves into the horror or fantasy genres. And this is basically the latter. Like End of Watch.

But I kept reading nonetheless, sucked in by King’s characters and his easy and engaging prose. I suspect there will be more in this series or via linked books and although I’ve been eye-rolling at body jumping / mind swapping demons since Twin Peaks circa 1991, I’m sure I’ll be back for more. And again I’ll be happy to reminded of how easily conversational and addictive King’s writing can be.

The Outsider by Stephen King was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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