Title: The Outsider.
Series: Holly Gibney #1.
Writer(s): Stephen King.
Narrator(s): Will Patton.
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio.
Release Date: May 22nd, 2018.
Length: 18 hours and 41 minutes.
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Bill Hodges Trilogy:
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.
Finders Keepers by Stephen King.
End of Watch by Stephen King.
There’s something utterly terrifying in the idea that you could be accused of something that you never did, something that you would never think of doing. But once you begin to suffer through the consequences of these allegations, you are stripped away of reason, safety, and sanity. Nothing you say, nothing you do, nothing you could think of could help you crawl out of the nightmare. That is unless you figure out a way to put a single little droplet of doubt into the mind of those who with power. However, toss in a dose of supernatural and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster, the perfect meal to send everyone scratching their head, desperately trying to understand what the world has come to. In this latest Stephen King novel, the legendary horror writer ventures once more into the police procedural genre while looking to spike his story with an unhealthy amount of supernatural.
What is The Outsider about? Upon the discovery of an eleven-year-old boy’s mutilated body in the town park, clues quickly lead directly to Terry Maitland, Flint City’s most beloved citizen, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two little girls. Completely dumbfounded, detective Ralph Anderson doesn’t waste a second to order a rapid and public arrest, while frustratingly thinking back at the days when his son was being coached by this monster. Following a humiliating arrest, the evidence gathered continues to grow with DNA, fingerprints, and witnesses, but Terry Maitland has incontestable alibis guaranteeing his innocence. What follows is a tale of impossibilities pushing the boundaries of the rationale into the horrifying and dangerous realms of the mind.
“If you can’t let go of the past, the mistakes you’ve made will eat you alive.”— Stephen King
Despite not being mentioned anywhere, this stand-alone novel is actually an extension of the Bill Hodges trilogy as it features one of its key characters who makes a return in a solo detective outing: Holly Gibney. However, a good chunk of the story kicks off as a traditional police procedural, continuously building the suspense, at one moment making it clear as day that the murderer could be none other than Terry Maitland, and the next, discovering evidence that proves that a man could not humanly be able to be at two places at the same time. Although there’s clearly something more suspicious and supernatural at play, it is mostly played off brilliantly, making you wonder where things are headed until it evolves in the most predictable way. While there’s no denying that Stephen King’s writing style is recognizable at the very first glance, it is how he weaves the narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more.
At the heart of the story, there’s a continual conflict between reality and imagination, especially through detective Ralph Anderson who is unable to believe in the impossible until he sees it for himself. However, the sudden intrusion of Holly Gibney’s character midway into the narrative shifts the novel’s core genre from police procedural to horror supernatural. While it may be a long-awaited twist or a much-needed return to form for some readers, I have never grown to love Holly Gibney’s character in the original trilogy, especially with the final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy being a huge disappointment, and it didn’t help that I had no attachment to her endeavour as a pseudo-detective in this story. This mostly resulted in a dull resolution that inevitably led to the build-up of a sinister showdown that never had any real chance to impress more than it could’ve, had Stephen King decided to stick with the direction of the better half of the novel.
The Outsider is a decent yet unremarkable supernatural thriller introducing the impossible into a world of rationality and human horrors.