The Outsider by Stephen King

Title: The Outsider.
Series: Holly Gibney #1.
Writer(s): Stephen King.
Narrator(s): Will Patton.
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio.
Format: Audiobook.
Release Date: May 22nd, 2018.
Length: 18 hours and 41 minutes.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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.



21 thoughts on “The Outsider by Stephen King

  1. I have read Mr. Mercedes and keep saying I am going to get back to the series, but haven’t done it yet. This one sounded really good, but I’m not sure about the horror aspect. Great review, Lashaan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant review, Lashaan! I was wondering why you only rated it 3/5 throughout the post, until I read the last bit and it got clearer ahah! I don’t know about Holly Gibney or the Bill Hodges trilogy but I can understand that a switch from a traditional police investigation novel (with a really interesting plot!) to something a bit more supernatural would be a bit odd. I think I would prefer something more cohesive! However, even by reading your review I do want to know how the story ends up ahah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Juliette! Haha, I do tend to hide my thoughts until later one just to allow anyone who’s reading my review to build up some curiosity for the book. I’m sure others, who love Holly Gibney, for example, or have no clue where she comes from, will enjoy this too though. It is a stand-alone novel in that respect. I’ll always recommend Mr. Mercedes though. That one was a lot of fun! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Outsider was the book that made return to King’s works after a long break due to disappointment, and while it was not a perfect book it was enough to rekindle my interest in the Master of Horror. Here I was somewhat annoyed by Holly’s character which sounded far too weird for my tastes: I started appreciating her more once I read the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, but here she and the too-swift resolution (if compared to the long narrative build-up) kept my rating quite close to yours.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see how it can serve as a reminder of why King can still write hahah So far, everything I pick up from him is fun to get through. And, like you’ve mentioned, I found this one flawed but a lot relies on how interested you are in the “supernatural” element and in Holly’s character. Thanks for reading, Maddalena! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thinking back, I don’t believe I’ve tried any of King’s work that leans more towards police procedurals or mysteries. One of these days I may try some. I still want to go back and read some of his older books that I never got around to. And I’m curious out Fairy Tale. Any idea what your next King read will be, if anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same. I’m keeping his older books for later down the line and am just picking up his newer releases for now. I’m thinking of looking into If It Bleeds (which is a collection of short stories and contains one more story with Holly Gibney) and then The Institute or Bill Summers. I have 0 expectations and have no clue what to expect from any one of them for now hahah


      1. I read If It Bleeds almost exactly 2 years ago. I really enjoyed it and my favorite story was the title story, which was also the longest and I believe the one with Holly Gibney. Not sure whether you’ll like it as much if you don’t like the character. I don’t remember many details beyond really liking that story and being interested in reading the Bill Hodges books because of it. I bought an ebook of The Institute but haven’t tried it yet. Here’s hoping you enjoy whatever you chose next. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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