The Colorado Kid

The Colorado Kid is the second Stephen King short novel published by the Hard Case Crime imprint. And since I enjoyed the first one, Joyland, I decided to give this one a shot. I did like it, but not as much as its predecessor.

Once again, don't let the lurid cover art mislead you. This is no cheap pulp fiction. Oddly enough, the original cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Not sure why they went for this femme fatale cover art. It was later changed for another illustration, one featuring a scene from the book.

Here's the blurb:

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues.

But that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...?

No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world's great storytellers presents a surprising tale that explores the nature of mystery itself...

The Colorado Kid is set on Moose-Lookit, a picturesque island off the coast of Maine which attracts a lot of tourists during the summer season. As is usually King's wont, this one features great New England vibes that create a vivid imagery.

The cast is comprised of Stephanie McCann, a young University of Ohio graduate on a summer internship with The Weekly Islander, working alongside two old local newspaper reporters, Dave Bowie and Vince Teague. There is a wonderful chemistry between the girl and the two geezers, which helps set up an interesting narrative. The tale focuses on the unexplained mystery surrounding the discovery of a dead body found by two teenagers on a nearby beach. Both men covered the story back in the 80s and they try to fill her in on what might have taken place so that a fellow last seen in Colorado ended up dead in Maine a few hours later.

The more you learn about the details of the investigation, the more you get invested in the story. As mentioned, the perspectives of three such disparate characters make for some endearing back-and-forth between them. As this remains an unexplained mystery to this day, the three of them explore every dead end, hoping that some new clue will reveal itself.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. No need to worry about a somewhat weird or off-putting Stephen King ending in this one. Indeed, The Colorado Kid doesn't have an ending. The unexplained mystery remains unsolved. Though I didn't really see it coming, for this specific book it works rather well. Still, as he writes in the afterword, the author is aware that not all readers will likely feel this way. But that sometimes, even if we get all the facts, and then extrapolate and explore all the threads based on those facts, ultimately the whole thing remains a mystery. Like many readers, I was hoping for some sort of resolution, for some answers to the numerous questions raised by the investigation. Yet when all was said and done, I still enjoyed the ride.

Your mileage may vary, though.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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