The Outsider

I wasn't planning on reading another Stephen King title just yet, but it's the slow season at work and I needed something I could smuggle on the sales floor to read while no one was looking. I chose The Outsider at random, not even knowing that Holly Gibney, one of my favorite King protagonists of recent years, was part of the story.

I was lucky with this random selection, for this novel is another compelling read. You don't need to have read the Bill Hodges trilogy to fully enjoy this one, but knowing more about Holly's background will give you more insight into her character. Up to you. Having said that, The Outsider works as a great standalone read.

Here's the blurb:

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

King sets up the mood from the very first page and The Outsider starts with the kind of opening scene that grabs hold of you and won't let go. The gruesome crime that's been committed demands a decisive response to reassure the people of Flint City that something is being done to protect their children from a murderous madman. But after arresting the suspect, despite what appears to be incontrovertible evidence, Detective Ralph Anderson and District Attorney Bill Samuels soon realize that they might be wrong. As unthinkable as it sounds. From then on, the book is impossible to put down!

As the man in charge of the investigation, Ralph Anderson's perspective takes center stage in the first part of the novel. Until the Terrence Maitland case goes down the crapper and the detective is put on administrative leave. Though it gets him into trouble, he continues to investigate the case. At this point, new POVs get more "air time," chief among them those of Howie Gold, the Maitland family lawyer, and Alec Pelley, one of the investigators that work for him. It is Pelley who will get in touch with Holly Gibney to ask for her help, and that's how Holly becomes part of the investigation. Asked to look into where the van used to kidnap the victim was originally stolen, Holly will discover that two little girls were murdered in similar fashion months before in a different part of the country. From that point on, they realize that they're not facing an ordinary killer. We also get the perspective of Detective Jack Hoskins, who holds a grudge against Anderson, and whose involvement could spell disaster for those trying to clear Maitland's name.

The first portion of the book, starting with Maitland's arrest until the end of his investigation, reads like a murder mystery/police procedural. There are no paranormal elements at the beginning, which was also the case with Mr. Mercedes. This part is the most tightly written of The Outsider. It's only after Holly gets involved that they realize that they might be facing a supernatural murderer. Though still good, there are parts where the plot meanders a little until it all comes together later on.

The endgame is particularly engaging and here's to hoping that we haven't seen the last of Holly. It's no secret that Stephen King has problems with ending his works on a high note. Not so with The Outsider, however. The author sticks the landing and brings this novel to a satisfying close.

The final verdict: 8.5/10

For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

3 commentaires:

Winterfella said...

If you haven’t heard Pat, King’s next novel coming out in September is titled “Holly”.

Shroud said...

Holly reappears in "If It Bleeds" and the upcoming "Holly". :)

Patrick said...

Really??? Great news!!