On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There’s no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues.
But that’s just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still…?
Title: The Colorado Kid | Author: Stephen King | Publisher: Hard Case Crime | Pub. Date: 7 May 2019 (US), 2 July 2019 (UK) | Pages: 206 | ISBN: 9781789091557| Genre: Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: I was provided with a copy by the publishers for review consideration
The Colorado Kid Review
When I’m not reading books that are sci fi or scary, you’ll mostly find me with a crime paperback in my hands. There’s something about mystery novels that calls to something deep within me, they satisfy a need I have to explore the “why?” of life. I’m a particular fan of vintage crime, and as a result I love the Hard Case Crime imprint, which features mystery fiction both old and new, presented with gorgeous pulp style covers. I first read Stephen King’s ‘The Colorado Kid’ when it was published as one of the first wave of books from Hard Case. It’s one of King’s lesser known works, having been out of print in the US for the last decade, but they’ve just re-issued it in a new illustrated edition.
The story is simple, and very different from the epic horror tomes that King is most famous for. It is instantly recognisable as his work though, both for its small-town Maine setting and the natural flow of its dialogue. The book is entirely a conversation between two elderly newspapermen, who run the paper that serves the island the book is set on, and the young female journalism student who is interning with them. The trio are discussing what makes the kind of mystery story that newspapers publish, and this leads the two men to relay the story of the Colorado Kid. The events they describe happened some 25 years previously on the island, starting with the discovery of the fresh corpse of a stranger.
To tell more than that would be to give too much away, so I won’t, but needless to say this is a mystery novel through and through. It’s a book about the allure of the unknown, as much as it is a whodunnit and King does a great job of dissecting the appeal of the genre. Along the way he throws in some wonderful characters and memorable events, and paints affectionate picture of small town life. What he doesn’t do is solve the case. Instead he leaves the reader with a delightful conundrum to puzzle over.
Is it sci fi or scary, though? I hear you cry. Well, it isn’t scary, and it isn’t sci fi. I would argue though, that it definitely counts as fantastic fiction. The mystery is such that the door is very much left open to supernatural explanations, although King leaves the interpretation of events up to the reader.
It’s worth commenting on what’s new in this edition. There are the many illustrations, which I really enjoyed and which add to the overall experience. The book also features an illuminating and heartfelt introduction from Charles Ardai, one of the founders of Hard Case Crime, on how it came to be in the first place.
‘The Colorado Kid’ is an atypical King book. It’s short, which, as someone who often feels slightly wearied by his tendency to go on a bit, is welcome. It’s not obviously horror and certainly lacks the in your face tension of many of his books. Instead it’s a gentle mystery, one that explores the genre as well as small town life in a way that I found utterly beguiling. Many may be disappointed by the lack of a clear resolution at the end, but for me that misses the point.
You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.
Really great review, Olly! I always like reading your reviews when I find time, but most especially your thoughts on King’s work. You provide a much-needed fresh perspective! Thanks x
Thanks Kris! Glad you enjoyed it
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