“The Outsider” by Stephen King: A Book Review

A confluence of events take place when Detective Ralph Anderson is convinced that he knows who the culprit behind a murder is. The unlikely suspect, convicted in the minds of the  detective and the prosecutor Bill Samuels, is Terry Maitland, an English teacher and little league coach in Flint City.

Terry Maitland is an unlikely suspect. He is liked by all and would be the last person suspected of this horrible crime involving a high school boy named Frank Peterson. Yet the DNA leads law enforcement to the coach, along with a few witnesses who said they saw Terry in places he shouldn’t have been, with blood on his clothes.

Ralph Anderson and Troy Ramage, officers with 20 years of service under their belts, arrest Terry  in public while he’s coaching a baseball game.

The whole town of Flint City watched the two officers walk down the third base line, the score tied in the ninth inning, and approach Terry.

All Terry could say was “What?  Are you kidding me?” Just then the sports photographer from the Flint City Call snaps the picture, the one that will be on tomorrow’s front page.  Terry’s mouth was open, his eyes were wide, with his hair sticking out the edges of his Golden Dragons cap. The picture made him look feeble and guilty.

Terry locked eyes with his wife Marcy and his two daughters, who were sitting just behind the bullpen, staring at him with identical expressions of shock and surprise. Officer Ramage snapped on the cuffs; big metal ones, not plastic strips. Big, visible and heavy, shining in the hot sun.

Officer Ramage asks Terry if he understands his rights. What Terry  did understand was that his life, as he knew it, was over for a long time, and maybe beyond that.

So Stephen King, master of suspense and horror begins his new novel, “The Outsider.” His magic continues throughout the book and twists and turns in a way that only an expert in his art can do.

Later in the book, the appearance of Holly Gibney, the woman who worked with Detective Hodges, in King’s book “End Of Watch” is no surprise. This is her speciality.  

If you are looking for a beach book or just a book to read under a lamp while you lay in bed, “The Outsider” is that book.  I bought it at The Harvard Bookstore and finished it in three days. The King family works miracles with words, even if the miracles are dark and may make you look under the bed to see it the Outsider is hiding there before you turn out the lights.

There are jail tattoos that play a part in this book, one on each hand. One hand says MUST and the other says CAN’T. If you are a drug addict, these words will filter into your mind because the fact is, with the illness of addiction, you are trapped in this quandary that says you CAN’T use drugs, but you MUST use drugs.

What does this have to do with the story?  Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. And speaking again of the King family, don’t forget Joe Hill and Owen King, Stephen’s sons, and his wife Tabitha, who also spins the webs of words.

This is a great book. It is horrifying and spellbinding; but what else would Stephen King do? Would you like to take a walk in his mind, eh?

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

Top