When a young boy is brutally assaulted and murdered, the police in Flint City believe they have an iron-clad case against Terry Maitland. Evidence and witnesses are piling up, until Terry’s solid alibi turns the seemingly impossible into reality. There is no end to the universe, and things will only get stranger before the case is finally resolved.
I made the mistake of reading – or rather, listening – to The Outsider after watching the television series, so a lot of the twists and turns didn’t surprise me the way that they would have otherwise. That said, this is an incredibly well-crafted story. I really enjoy the way that King allows his stories time to fill out, to grow, to mature. Some people would complain that many of King’s books are too long, and contain too much padding. I will admit that may be true for some but, in the case of The Outsider, it didn’t feel like any words were wasted.
One of King’s greatest strengths, in my opinion, is his ability to write characters and make them believable. Ralph’s journey from stoic realism and unwillingness to believe in the supernatural to the person that stood by Holly’s side and faced the Outsider was incredible. There were certainly times that I was mad at Ralph for not believing what was clearly evident, but that was by design. Few authors have the ability to make me really care about and understand the characters that they bring to life, and Stephen King is certainly one of them.
The Outsider itself was creepy and disturbing and evil, and I really liked King tying it to Spanish folklore. I was left wondering if the Outsider was related to Pennywise and other spawn of the Crimson King, and whether The Outsider could potentially be a part of King’s larger cosmic mythos. Holly’s words about a power for good balancing out the evil supports this. Regardless, as with many of his literary creations, the Outsider will remain in my mind and haunt the shadows of my memory for a long time to come.
I listened to the audiobook version of The Outsider and greatly enjoyed Will Patton’s narration. My only complaint was the way that he read Holly, but it is definitely a minor one.