I really have only a few complaints about Stephen King’s The Outsider (I’ll get into those later), but otherwise it was a very engaging book with a good amount of scary. A good addition to my Halloween Countdown.
Ralph is a detective looking into the brutal murder of a young boy. The case seems a lock: there’s DNA evidence and eyewitnesses (more than one or two or even three). The only problem is, the suspect—Terry—can’t possibly have done it because he was out of town when the crime took place. It’s a paradox that’s driving him crazy. A man can’t be in two places at one time…until he can. Either the solution is ridiculously convoluted and complicated and still doesn’t make use of all the evidence, or it’s more straightforward and outside the realms of human reality. So…which is it? A supernatural crime or a natural one?
This book was a fascinating combination of good and evil, elements I’ve learned to expect from King. While there’s that disturbing element in the story, horror and evil, there’s also something working for the good, whether it’s people, things, or an unknown yet benevolent entity. One doesn’t exist without the other, a truth that King isn’t shy about using in his stories.
Ralph, our hero, is a pragmatic man, a detective, who finds his world views and assumptions about truth challenged. I’m a little in love with him both for his quick mind and Southern drawl, but also for his kindness and compassion.
Terry—Is he the criminal or the victim?—might be the center of the story in many ways, but he’s not the main character. Still, he demonstrates great depth of character during his brief appearance in the novel.
Holly is another major character, but she doesn’t come in until later. She actually played a huge roll in some other King books, so it’s nice to see her and see how she’s doing if you read those other books (I did not). What I like about her is her quirkiness. King created a major character with anxiety and depression, and he did it well. I don’t know if he’s just really good at character building or if he knows (or is) someone with these problems, but he hit them square on. And I’m in a position to know.
The Outsider was fascinating because we’re granted a rare glimpse into the depths of the unknowable. Most characters of this type are mysteries even at the end of the story. Of course, this didn’t mean I didn’t want to know more.
The plot, coming from Stephen King, was excellent. If anybody else had written it, I’d say that the two main parts and the clear separation between them was a bit sudden, but I don’t often question King; he has a way of moving a narrative along. I will say, though, that the climax seemed anti-climatic. I feel like it needed something more.
Stephen King’s an excellent writer, so when I say that I had a problem with it, I really had a problem with it. In this case, everything was flawless except for the description of the crime. He went too far, focused too much on the horror that it was, the evil that created it. It made me nauseous. I could have gone a lifetime without reading that. It wasn’t even necessary to go into that sort of detail, making it a bit gratuitous.
Other than this, there were some excellent quotes:
“People had the mistaken idea that Poe wrote fantastic stories about the supernatural, when in fact he wrote realistic stories about abnormal psychology.”
As a lover of Poe, this is so true.
I liked this book; it was good. It wasn’t my favorite Stephen King book, and some certain parts in it made me even actively loathe it for a minute or two. However, it talks about good and evil, how there’s not one without the other; if there’s evil out there committing vile crimes, then there’s also good filled with light and love. That alone is worth taking away from this book.