The Outsider by Stephen King (4 out of 5)

This will go down as the book I was reading when all hell broke loose. I bought it on June 10, left work early in the afternoon, and lodged myself at the Willowbrook Denny’s, ate TWO All American Slams, drank too much coffee, and began to read it. By the time I left Denny’s and got home, my Dad was complaining of pain in the abdomen, and feeling nauseous. Little did I know this was the beginning of the “non traumatic gastrointestinal bleed” that would culminate in his passing 11 days later. It is a mystery to me why the human subconscious tags certain things in correlation with sad and tragic things that occur in one’s life. But hey, I just did it again! Anyway, the last two Stephen King books I read…Elevation last November and Doctor Sleep in January…I was miles apart in my thoughts of them. I thought Elevation was a letdown and then Doctor Sleep was pretty great. So I am never sure with Mr. King these days. This one furthered divided my mind into quarters of Chunky Monkey.

You are never going to have a shortage of character development in a Stephen King novel. You may, however, have a shortage of what you deem as reaching too far with parts of the story. I had that complaint with Elevation. That would also ring true here, but in a smaller percentage. I thought this was a fantastic premise, but halfway through, I became very annoyed with the stalling of the overall plot and one of the characters became the first candidate for my literary sledgehammer to the nutsack. Detective Ralph Anderson reminds me of my old adage…the name Ralph is a vomitous blemish on one’s powder blue tuxedo. Ralph Cramden, Ralph Wiggum, Ralph Malph, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wreck-It-Ralph..all of them were extraneous goo. The only cool Ralph’s are Macchio, Fiennes, and Furley. Detective Anderson is the lead on a case where a little boy is found murdered and defiled in a grotesque manner. Terry Maitland, popular Little League coach, husband, and father, was seen by a multitude of witnesses with the kid before the body is discovered. He has an alibi but fingerprints, DNA, and the eyewitnesses put him there, so Detective Ralph arrests him in public during a championship game, in front of his wife and kids. This is public shaming Stephen King-style. Then the ironclad case starts to go a little off the rails. Things start happening and others disappear, although Maitland is incarcerated. One of the happiest occurrences for this reader was the reappearance of one Holly Gibney, a central character in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. She helped quell some of my irrational impatience with the fool boy detective. The outcome and revelations springing forth at the end are complex and entertaining. I finished this with more delight in which I have begun it. Only a weirdo like me could dig into this twisted tale with relish. The good news is there are others who agree. Not one of his best, but not one of his worst, either.

~ by generationgbooks on July 21, 2019.

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