A horrifying crime.
Water-tight evidence points to a single suspect.
Except he was seventy miles away, with an iron-clad alibi.
Detective Anderson sets out to investigate the impossible: how can the suspect have been both at the scene of the crime and in another town?
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 02/05/2019
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘The Outsider’: 5 out of 5
I was hoping that my first novel of the year would be a good one (I’ve finished three audio books this year so far but this is my first actual physical book) and, thankfully, King delivered. Hoping for a fantastic read and picking Stephen King was a bit of a double-edged blade. My history with his books has always been ‘excellent world building, excellent character building, great story and … lacklustre endings’. Fortunately, for me at least, The Outsider was one of King’s home runs.
I loved everything about this book from the concept, to the characters, to the cross-over characters from the Bill Hodges trilogy and even the ending. I will say that if you are intending to read the Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers & End of Watch), do so before reading this or it will be spoiled for you. If you weren’t intending to read the Bill Hodges trilogy … shame on you.
As one would expect with King, this is not your ordinary thriller. There are supernatural/horrory elements, so if you were hoping for a genuine thriller, this probably isn’t the book for you. Fortunately, I went into this not only unaware of that fact, but totally cool with it being either a genuine thriller or one with supernatural elements. So I was destined to be happy either.
The premise of this book got me hooked straight away and didn’t let go. Even when it passed from the realms of thriller into supernatural thriller, my interest was held due to a mixture of the relationship built up with the characters, both old and new, the storytelling and King’s writing. For me, King is the sort of writer that, even when he writes a book you don’t particularly enjoy (for me that was Salem’s Lot & Needful Things) you can’t help but enjoy the world he’s building and the characters he’s fleshing out. I think, ordinarily, this is helped by everything happening in his small, fictional slice of New England. It’s a setting you’re familiar with and one you can see grow with every book.
Not that that was a factor here as it happened in Texas. But I digress.
The pacing of this book was never slow. Everything that was happening was interesting and continually adding to the story or to character growth rather than just padding out a word count. King’s style is a natural word count builder so he’s not one that typically needs to pad. It’s also one of the few books I’ve read where the overwhelming sense of helplessness bled through from the page and into me. Just putting yourself in the shoes of the person/s accused and seeing how pathetically woeful their chances of justice are makes you feel miserable for them.
I read through this in a little under a week and am already missing it. Its one of those reads that you can slip into for a few, or a few dozen, pages and just enjoy the sensation of getting lost in a good story. It’s rare that I praise King for his endings as, even those books I truly loved by him (Under the Dome & 11.22.63 to name a couple) tend to have more of a whimper than a bang at the end. King does, however, seem far stronger when writing endings for his Supernatural thrillers, something proven in the Bill Hodges trilogy.
Long may this man keep churning out stories!