Book Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

Name:  The Outsider
Stephen King
Number of Pages:
  477 (Hardback)
May 22nd 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Horror


When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.
Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.
As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.
Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?   – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A child has been brutally murdered.
There is indisputable evidence that Terry Maitland, the until-now inoffensive and totally decent Little League coach is guilty of this despicable crime. The horror and disbelief that the man who has coached so many local children could do such a terrible thing fuels the fire that sees him very publicly arrested.
There is also indisputable evidence that the very same Terry Maitland was miles away at the exact same time that the murder was committed. But that’s not possible, is it? A man cannot be in two places at once. Can he?
Ralph Anderson, the detective at the heart of the case begins to question Terry’s guilt, and when things take a tragic turn he is determined to find out the truth.
And so begins The Outsider.

“I believe there’s another dozen thoughts in my head lined up behind each one I’m aware of.”

Unfortunately I happened upon the who/what/why/how of this tale online before I started reading and I think if I hadn’t my brain would have been shooting off in every direction speculating as to how all this strange occurrence came about.

I couldn’t put this book down.
From the initial stages including witness statements and interviews, via the subplots and the back stories and the introduction of minor characters who all played some small part in the overall tale, to the shocking discovery of the truth and the race against time that ensues, the whole thing was a real page-turner.

Yes, there are probably scenes that could have been cut, but each and every minor detail added depth, and I enjoyed it all. The detail is a feature of King’s writing that I love; the characters are so real, whether they’re good or bad.
The book never felt overlong, even though at times I was turning the pages at speed to get to the next revelation, because the way the tale pulls together, very gradually, and via a network of several different main characters who are often in different parts of the country, it keeps you engaged.

I think I can say without giving anything away, there were a couple of moments that gave me a bit of a shiver, and one in particular that was reminiscent of an earlier King novel, but I’ll leave it at that. It was so good!

As the investigation unfolds a familiar face from previous novels becomes involved, and I really liked the inclusion. It was a character who didn’t particularly stand out for me in previous appearances, I don’t really know why, but here, I could have read so much more from that point of view.

The Outsider has an intriguing premise, and is a suspenseful, tension-building, evidence-challenging tale of good and evil. It’s not your average thriller, with twists, scares and a great cast of characters with which to experience all the strangeness. I really enjoyed it, and hope I’ve managed to put across how much without giving anything major away, because The Outsider is definitely one to read.


12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

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