The Outsiderby Stephen King Published 22 May 2018
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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.
"The Outsider" Reviews
King has done it again! The last time I was this enthralled with one of his books was Finders Keepers. While I do read a lot, it is not often I find a book that I don't want to put down at all. In fact, the biggest selling point is that I am in no way, shape or form a morning person. Dragging myself out of bed is the greatest challenge of my day. But, I woke up early, without a alarm, when I had about 100 pages to go because I was so into it I couldn't stop thinking about it and wanted to finish it!
This is basically a combination of King's old school horror stories with his more recent mystery books (Bill Hodges trilogy). When you read it you might be surprised at how true this statement is. I will just leave that statement out there with no spoilers - you'll see!
Really, my only criticism of the book is the ending. It felt a little off, flat, and awfully convenient to me. However, the book as a whole was so awesome, it barely affected my enjoyment.
King fans rejoice! It's another great one. The master still has it!
I’ve been reading Uncle Stevie for about 35 years now, and there’s been plenty of peaks and valleys in my fandom. This time out he found a whole new way to disappoint me.
A young boy has been brutally murdered, and all the clues point directly at Terry Maitland. This is shocking because Terry is a happily married family man and all-around good guy whose coaching of youth sports has made him one of the most popular and respected people in town, and there’s never been the slightest hint of any kind of criminal behavior from him. However, with both forensic evidence and multiple witnesses there is no doubt that Terry abducted and killed this child so Detective Ralph Anderson has him arrested in the most public and humiliating way possible.
The problem is that there was so much evidence pointing at Terry that Ralph didn’t bother nailing down his whereabouts when the crime was committed, and Terry has an iron clad alibi that makes it impossible for him to be the murderer. Yet for every piece of evidence that shows that Terry couldn’t have killed the boy there’s another equally damning one that positively shows that he must have done it. How could a man be in two places at once?
The infuriating thing about this book is that the first half had a lot of promise. King seems to have been inspired by the Harlan Coben style of thrillers whose hooks generally revolve around circumstances that seem impossible. (In fact, Uncle Stevie even acknowledges this by actually having Coben himself be a plot point in the book.) And this works for a while as King builds up the scenario with an intriguing mix of clues and witnesses that both absolutely prove that Terry must be the murderer while also making it utterly impossible for him to have done it.
There’s a huge problem with that though. When Harlan Coben writes his books the resolutions are based in reality, not the paranormal. So for each one he has to come up with a plot that leaves you scratching your head and then provide a solution to it that’s satisfying. What Uncle Stevie did here is to create the puzzle part which he adds layer after layer to it, but then he essentially just says “Oh, yeah. It was a supernatural monster. And now here’s a completely different book about trying to catch it.”
You can certainly do a story that mixes police investigations with the unexplained. The X-Files is the obvious example of this, but that series would generally show us the weird stuff in the opening scene every week then they would try to unravel it for the rest of the episode. We all knew going in that the supernatural and aliens were on the table so there’s no point in spending time to make the viewer think there might be a non-fantastic answer even if Scully usually tried her best to find it.
Since this is a Stephen King novel with a red-eyed monster on the cover a reader should know from the start that something spooky is in the mix. Yet, he gives us absolutely nothing about that angle for the first half of the book. He plays it straight like he’s writing a regular crime thriller, and he put in so much time and effort on it that he actually managed to make me forget at times that the ultimate answer would probably be a ghoul of some kind. So it’s like he’s teasing us that there is some kind of Sherlock Holmes style solution to this puzzle, and I found it incredibly unsatisfying when the supernatural stuff showed up to explain it all.
The extra sad thing is that Uncle Stevie has done this plot before, and he did it better there. The Dark Half has a main character who is suspected of murder, there’s physical evidence showing he did it, and it’s only an airtight alibi that saves his ass. Yet, in that book we know from the jump what’s going on so it all flows together naturally, and it’s just one piece of a larger story rather than half a novel spent developing a mystery that is essentially not a mystery at all when you remember that you’re reading Stephen King.
The second issue I had with this is that this is linked to the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. I didn’t care for those books, and if I’d have known that this had anything to do with them I wouldn’t have read it. I thought that series was done so to have a character from them show up at the half way point here as a surprise and then play a major role in the proceedings felt like false advertising. Another irritating aspect is that (And this has spoilers for End of Watch) [spoilers removed]
At over 500 pages it’s also way too long with not enough happening except for a whole lot of yackity-yacking going on amongst characters. There’s a tremendous amount of repletion with people restating the facts about the initial problem of Terry being in two places in once, and then during the monster phase there’s endless jibber-jabber speculating about it. Dialogue has never been a particular strength of King’s, but all his worst habits are fully on display here so it’s extra bad that the book mostly consists of conversations.
I also found myself nitpicking a lot of stuff here. Now that he’s over 70 years old Uncle Stevie seems to struggle writing younger people these days. Terry is described as being under 40 yet at one point his wife is remembering how they used to listen to Beatles albums in his college apartment, and she idly wonders if John Lennon was dead by then or not. A guy who is 40 today was born in 1978. John Lennon was murdered in 1980. So Lennon had been dead for almost two decades by the time Terry was in college. That’s the musing of an aging Baby Boomer, not someone under 50.
Ralph also seems to be somewhere around 40 years old yet when he’s trying to figure out a restaurant name from a torn scrap of paper he has to go to his wife to have her run the internet search for him. I’m pretty sure that a detective whose job involves research and information gathering is capable of using Google. And it’s not even that Ralph is anti-tech or computer ignorant because he uses an iPad regularly through the book. Again, this seems like an older person’s way of thinking about the internet, not someone who would have been using computers since his first day with the police department.
I also found the main break that finally gets the plot moving toward the supernatural stuff to be highly unlikely. [spoilers removed]
King tried doing plain thrillers with the first two Bill Hodges books, but he struggled mightily with plotting them so he threw in the towel with the third one where he went full-on supernatural again. This one feels like he thought he had a great idea for another crime novel, wasn’t really sure how to resolve it, started writing it anyway hoping he’d figure it out, and then when he couldn’t he just threw up his hands and made it all about a monster. I won’t be reading another crime based book by him. Unless he tricks me again.
The Outsider by Stephen King is a 2018 Scribner publication.
Classic, quintessential King-
An eleven -year old boy is found brutally murdered and strong evidence points to Little League coach Terry Maitland. Detective Ralph Anderson is particularly outraged and makes the fateful decision to arrest Terry in public, creating a media sensation in the process. But, as the investigation begins to unfold, doubts and alternative evidence make Ralph question Terry’s guilt. As the mystery deepens the horrible truth that emerges creates a heart pounding and tense race against time, and the ultimate good versus evil showdown.
“Reality is thin ice. But most people never fall through until the very end”
Now, plenty of people have reviewed this book, and King certainly doesn’t need any help from me in promoting his novels, I just had to add my own complimentary comments about this one. This book reminded me of why, when I was a teenager, I was always the first in line to buy a new SK novel, why I absorbed them as fast as possible, then read them again and again and again. King has a way of building a complex puzzle, while creating characters readers are sure to respond to, either in a good or a bad way, and then proceeds to scare the crap out of us. The action picks up right at the beginning, building and building, first as a standard mystery and police investigation, then segues into the stuff that will keep you up at night.
King is always funny, always a bit sarcastic, and likes to poke fun here and there, sometimes good naturedly, and sometimes with a more caustic tone, while also addressing serious issues from time to time without becoming preachy. His passages featuring fellow author Harlan Coben, was especially fun and entertaining. (Although, you may want to refrain from asking Coben if he knows who the killer is from the start, or if he figures it out as he goes along- I think that question has been asked and answered, and Coben could be weary of it. 😊)
King’s basic style is still working, is still relevant, avoiding the traps of standard formulas and clichés authors of his generation, who have clogged up the NYT bestseller lists for the past forty years, are prone to. However,as Karin Slaughter points out in her otherwise glowing review for the Washington Post-
“If you can accept that a contemporary man in his late 40s recalls quoting “Our Gang” with his kid brother instead of the Fonz or even Pee-wee Herman, you’re in for a hell of a ride.” LOL!
My only regret is that I did not realize Holly’s character was connected to the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, and I’ve been meaning to read those books for a long time. But, on the plus side, I feel more motivated to get started on it sooner, rather than later.
This book is will remind readers of why Stephen King is the master… and always will be.
This started off really good but it slowed down towards the end. I was happy there was some connection to the Bill Hodges series (which I liked a lot!!) but I was overall underwhelmed.
Recommend it but it's not for everyone.
"Reality is thin ice, but most people skate on it their whole lives and never fall through until the very end."
An eleven-year-old's body is found in a park following a brutal murder. Eyewitness accounts and fingerprint evidence point to the popular Little League coach and teacher, Terry Maitland. But Terry also has an alibi for the time of the crime...
MY BOY'S STILL GOT IT. I straight up loved this book from the very first page until the final words. King proves once again that he is the master when it comes to horror and suspense. This book had me feeling disturbed and unsettled on a few occasions, whilst also having me sending frantic messages to my BG friends like "What the eff just happened?!"
Those first 2-300 pages were simply unputdownable. It was so addictive that I was seriously considering booking days off work so that I could just fly through it. But it's also so good that I wanted to take my time and really savour being in a great King book. There were twists and turns galore, and at no point could I really predict what route King would go down. I love King most of all when he is completely unpredictable.
One of my favourite things about King's writing is those scenes that really just feel so simple. And by that I mean different characters or family members just chatting in the kitchen over a coffee. He has a way of making seemingly "bland" parts of the story really damn interesting. He just knows how to craft these characters we care about and have them interact in a way that feels real. He doesn't need to be building constant suspense or throwing scares our way to hook your attention. It's the more quiet moments in his books that I live for. And there's plenty of those in here as well as the crazy, exciting, unsettling parts. A couple of scenes in particular had those little hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. He's STILL killin' it.
I really liked these characters a lot more than those presented in Sleeping Beauties, these ones actually did feel more memorable. We also got to see the reappearance of a certain King character that I found very exciting. I was just fangirling all over the place. Connections and crossovers within the King universe will always please us Constant Readers.
I've warned everyone on my instagram numerous times... but if by some chance you're reading this and you haven't read The Outsider yet OR the Bill Hodges trilogy, I strongly recommend reading the Hodges trilogy first. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't. If you have zero interest in ever reading the trilogy then work away, but if not... you will be MAJORLY spoiled. And no one enjoys that shit.
I just feel so happy that King is still writing and releasing books of this quality. I get a bit pissed when people throw shade on King's more recent stuff and say things like "Oh I much prefer classic King". Would you want your favourite band to keep releasing albums over and over that have the same kind of sound? No, I want my bands to evolve and change, just like I want King to. He is constantly trying different things, or different genres. He doesn't rest on his laurels, he's always trying to challenge himself and I respect that. Thankee-Sai.
Probably my favourite book of 2018 so far - all the stars!
King does it again! Simply masterful.
Young Frankie Peterson is dead. His death was brutal: gruesome, horrific and completely senseless. All evidence points to Terry Maitland, beloved Little League Coach, as the murderer. His fingerprints are all over the crime scene and eye-witnesses place him with Peterson moments before his death. Enraged by the viciousness of the crime, and convinced of Maitland’s guilt, Detective Ralph Anderson arranges for the public arrest of Maitland: in front of his family, friends and his Little League team. Almost immediately thereafter, new evidence comes to light showing that Maitland was seen on camera hundreds of miles away at the exact moment the murder took place.
Can a person possibly be in two places at once? Wouldn’t you say that it’s physically impossible? (I know for a fact that its not seeing as I’ve actually done it. I once straddled the state lines of Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri – I thought it was pretty cool - being in a city that had the same name but in different states!? Wowza!) That said, I will admit that Stephen King’s take on this subject is FAR cooler than mine).
Thereafter, Terry’s wife, and a few others do whatever they can to prove his innocence. The path it leads them down is most extraordinary. Would you expect anything less from Stephen King? Perhaps my own eyes played tricks on me.
Joining them is Holly Gibney (of Mr. Mercedes/Finders Keepers fame (which I admittedly couldn’t get through, though I tried and tried)). Her tactics may be unorthodox, but her results are bonafide.
There are things seen and unseen in “The Outsider.” Something in particular was enough to creep this girl out for the duration. Someone actually. A man who gave me jitters and whose eyes I hope I never see staring into mine.
Frightening, harrowing and riveting, I was immediately drawn into this crazy novel and I went in blind, which I highly recommend. This started out as a mystery and then it changed into something else entirely. It is to Stephen King’s credit that he can do that and do it successfully.
His mind works like no other and you never know what you will encounter or how his writing will impact you: one minute you’re holding your breath in the deep end, terrified a monster is going to pass you by, the next your eyes snap open, the shock has hit you and spasms wrack your body over and over. His ideas rock my world and they always have. Somehow, I know I’m not alone.
While I loved the premise of “The Outsider” and was scared and completely shocked by the twists and turns, I felt that the storyline petered out a bit towards the end and it left me wanting just a tad. The characters however, were full of fierce determination, strength and lots of heart. What I learned is that if I lose something or get into trouble, I would be lucky to have Holly Gibney by my side and so would you.
Thank you to Stephen King for continuously keeping me entertained since I was a pre-teen. Thank you also for giving a shout out to you know who - that was awesome! In case it’s not obvious, your imagination continues to amaze me. Whenever I think I need to let my imagination run a little wild, I read one of your books and I think, heck no, you do it enough for all of us.
Published on Gooreads, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram on 6.23.18.