Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Stephen King

By Lynn Willoughby

The Outsider ~ Stephen King

When I tell people I am a fan of Stephen King they don’t believe me.  Yes, his early writing was pure sci fi, but in the last fifteen years or so I can’t wait to read anything written by him.  He gets into my head like no other author, and while he often has me scared out of my wits, just as often I am laughing out loud.  His writing is flawless, his characters have real personalities with quirks and flaws, the dialogue makes sense.  This novel is all of the above.
An eleven year old boy is found brutally assaulted and murdered.  Fingerprints and DNA are unmistakably those of the man who coaches the young boys in town in both baseball and football.  Almost the entire population of Flint City is at the baseball game where Terry Maitland is arrested and all are stunned.  His protests of innocence are disregarded, even though he seems to have a legitimate alibi, with several eye witnesses.
King’s psychological suspense is “riveting in this extraordinarily dramatic and eerie story”.
The effect on the town – of murder, arrest, suicide, suspicion of friends and neighbours, Maitland’s wife, the mother of the murdered boy leaves everyone in town frightened and confused.  The children Maitland coached through the years and their loss of innocence, is King at his most masterful.
There is a large cast of characters in this lengthy novel – detectives, attorneys, traffic cops, bail bondsmen, wives, children and townspeople.  There is mystery and fantasy and downright creepiness.  There are several locales.  There are metaphors regarding the water crises in Oklahoma and possibly the “Outsider” is …”an allegory for Donald Trump” a manipulative outsider who turns people against each other…”  The scenes set in southern Texas recalled King’s book “Desperation”.  Yet all these ingredients work together, there is no turning pages back to see who is who.  This somehow makes the whole experience more disturbing.
King has once again gotten under my skin with this book.  The work is unsettling but incredibly enjoyable and I would say it is his best writing since 11/22/63.
  •  Misery
  •  Bag of Bones
………………and so many more.

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