From horror master Stephen King, a monster story wrapped in a police procedural. After Detective Ralph Anderson arrests a popular local Little League coach for the gristly murder of a young boy, the case take an even darker, altogether more supernatural turn.
Monsters of one kind or another are what the man does best, and The Outsider delivers a good one … He could easily churn out ‘monsters in Maine’ tales until his life ends, and he’d remain well compensated for it. But he doesn’t do that. He isn’t writing mere imitations of himself. More than 50 novels published, and he’s still adding new influences to his work. I can think of a great many literary writers who are far lazier about their range of inspirations and interests. This expansiveness allows King to highlight the idea that whether we’re talking about Mexico or Maine, Oklahoma or Texas, people the world over tell certain stories for reasons that feel much the same: to understand the mysteries of our universe, the improbable and inexplicable … here’s to the strange and to Stephen King. Still inspiring.”
King is arguably as much an American icon as the ’68 Fastback or a classic red-and-white Plymouth Fury. All of these glories are on full display in his latest mystery-horror hybrid, The Outsider. The twists and turns make for a fantastic read, but there is also the underlying fugue of displacement ... That Ralph trusts all of his misgivings with his wife, Jeannie, adds a nice layer to the narrative. King has always excelled at exploring the complexities of marriage. Choosing to give Jeannie such a pivotal role is almost as rewarding as the denouement ... It should be restated that any quibbles about dated references are small when compared with the overall reward of reading a gripping, good story. No book is perfect, but Stephen King is reliably closer than most. He has always excelled at writing about real people tested by unreal situations.
The Outsider is in many ways a throwback novel, a creature feature that seems ripped from his ’80s heyday, his pulpiest book since perhaps Cell, but a work undeniably founded in today’s fears ... What’s remarkable and deeply pleasurable about the book is the way King slowly builds this world out. He may be tilling genre ground that’s similar to early blockbusters like Pet Sematary and It, but he’s doing so with the patience and maturity that’s marked the elder statesman stage of his career ... At the same time, here is the creepy King we grew up with, his grindhouse instincts firmly intact. Old-school fans who prefer his down-and-dirty-pillows work to his more literary output will greet this as one of his strongest in years ... All of these strengths are enough to offset some of the book’s weaker qualities. King’s premise is so engaging that there’s a bit of a downshift in enjoyment when the mystery section turns into suspense, and then again when suspense turns to action.