Book review: The Outsider by Stephen King

Stephen King has published 63 novels, but The Outsider, a horror/crime fiction novel is the first one I have read. If you want to frighten yourself, this could be the book for you. One hot night whilst absorbed in the story I had to get up and close and lock all the doors after I started to get spooked. As it turns out I needn’t have bothered because the thing that had frightened me could have gotten in if it wanted to, doors locked or not.

‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’

A young boy is abducted and brutally murdered in Flint City. A witness saw the local little league coach, English teacher and father of two girls drive him off in a white van, another saw him emerge from where the body was found covered in blood, a third saw him dump the van and drive away in another car…Detective Ralph Anderson swoops in mid game to arrest Terry Maitland in front of the kids, parents and Terry’s own family — the man had coached Ralph’s son as well and he’s outraged. Soon Anderson has DNA evidence and fingerprints as well — a quick resolution to a sordid tale. Or is it?

There was one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man could not be in two places at the same time.

Terry Maitland has an alibi. He was also caught on video, and his fingerprints found at a conference in another town when the murder was taking place.

Enter stage left, eccentric private investigator Holly Gibney to help Anderson get to the truth. I loved the character of Holly – she’s extraordinary in her ordinariness. She’s on the Autism spectrum, obsessive-compulsive and has sensory processing issues. She’s extremely intelligent and observant but her awkward, self deprecating, uncertainty make her uncomfortable in her own skin and self-conscious around others. Yet she is brave and can be relied on in a crisis.

Themes include justice triumphs over evil, loss of innocence, identity, belief and disbelief. I don’t usually read horror, but it would be fair to say the crime element and the character of Holly were major factors that kept me glued to The Outsider at every chance I got – devouring it hungrily till the end.

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