Featured Review: ‘The Outsider’ by Stephen King

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The outsider hardcover.jpgA small Oklahoma city is thrown into chaos when a little boy is found brutally murdered and a beloved public figure is thought to be the killer. 

It was the most horrific crime scene that Oklahoma Detective Ralph Anderson had seen in his more than two decades on the job. Frank Peterson, a young boy known throughout the small town of Flint, was found in a wooded area with multiple gruesome injuries — including tree branches sticking out of his corpse. Thick pools of blood had formed beneath the body, with arterial spray coating the tree branches and nearby foliage. 

The person behind the heinous act left DNA and fingerprints at the scene of the crime. Additionally, multiple eye-witnesses saw the man with the boy moments before little Frank was savagely beaten and killed. All the evidence points to just one man, a local good-guy by the name of Terry Maitland.

A respected teacher and long-time little league coach who’d helped countless young boys reach their potential on the diamond, Maitland’s actions stunned Ralph Anderson, who chose to arrest the coach in front of nearly two thousand locals during the ninth inning of a little league playoff game on a hot July night. The crowd, like the rest of the city, was stunned by Maitland’s arrest. Most, including Terry’s wife and their two girls, sat and watched in jaw-dropping horror as the adored coach was handcuffed and hauled away. Disgusted by the crime and the fact that his son had once played on Terry’s team, Anderson intentionally made a spectacle out of arresting Maitland. The town deserved to know about the monster walking among them, he figured. And besides, the case was air-tight. 

King throws his first sweeping curveball when Detective Anderson and the local prosecutor see their impenetrable case suddenly begin to show signs of cracking. They have his DNA and prints at the scene, and a handful of people saw the coach either just prior to or just after the boy’s death, covered from head to toe in blood. How, then, is it possible that physical evidence also places Maitland hours away with a group of English teachers at a literary conference headlined by one of today’s bestselling thriller novelists? 

As Anderson tries to knock down Maitland’s alibi, he instead finds more indisputable evidence that the coach was, in fact, out of town when Frank was murdered. Clearly, a person cannot be in two places at once, so the question is: did Terry Maitland commit the perfect crime. . . or is there another evil lurking behind the scenes that nobody’s noticed? 

Stephen King shows yet again why he’s one of America’s most beloved storytellers. He’s done it all throughout his brilliant career, but the famous writer still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and he opens this book by fooling readers into thinking The Outsider is a police procedural written with the same grittiness as Don Winslow’s The Force. King does a convincing job too, slowly revealing the ins and outs of the murder case in a way that’s very Michael Connelly-esque, before ripping the rug out from under readers’ feet and thrusting them into the kind of haunting plot that Stephen King is so well known for. . . a story that only he can pull off. 

It’s fitting that King opens his latest mind-bending thriller with a baseball scene, because even now, forty-four years after publishing his first novel, the legendary author still has plenty of zip on his fastball. . . The Outsider is a chilling, scary-good story about facing your fears and the unknown, challenging readers to look just a little bit harder at the world around them.

Book Details

Author: Stephen King
Pages: 576 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501180983
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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