Terry Maitland is a typical small town teacher. He teaches English at the local college and coaches little league. So when a boy is brutally murdered in Flint City, Oklahoma and Terry’s DNA is found at the scene, Detective Ralph Anderson is deeply unsettled, and enraged at the thought that a man who coached his son in baseball could commit such a horrendous act.
Terry swears he didn’t do it and he has an alibi, all things Detective Anderson and the District Attorney Bill Samuels have heard before. They have his fingerprints and DNA; this case is open and shut.
But Terry’s alibi turns out to be air tight. Could someone be framing one of the most popular men in Flint City for this murder? Or is something more sinister going on?
“The Outsider,” by Stephen King, starts out written as a police procedural, complete with transcribed interviews with eyewitnesses. As the story progresses, it switches from a written “Law & Order” episode to a horror novel. I love both police procedural novels and horror novels so I was beyond ecstatic at this.
What I really love about this novel is that King doesn’t seem to fall in the same trap he usually does with novels. King has a tendency to basically just ramble on too long so that you’re slogging through the last third of the book just hoping it’s going to be over soon. I did not have this problem with “The Outsider.” I never once felt like this book was going on too long.
I was completely absorbed in this novel from the moment I started it. In fact, I finished it in three days and it only took that long because I had to go to work.
The characters are believable and engaging. You’re rooting for Terry and, conversely, for Ralph Anderson. You want both men to win, but you’re not lead to believe that either one of these men is perfect either. King creates a nice inner balance in all the characters.
King has really and completely outdone himself with “The Outsider.” If you never read anything else by Stephen King, read this. It’s fantastic. It’s King doing what he’s best at—making you feel disquieted by all the “normal” things around you.