Outsider carries forward the ever-popular character of Holly Gibney—the private detective of the Hodges trilogy—who, with her unparalleled imagination and superlative sense of the paranormal world, helps in bringing the story to its climax.
There’s a certain expectation attached to a Stephen King novel. You know there will be horror, you know the writing will be marvellous and you definitely know that it’s going to be a page-turner. And, with Outsider, the American author doesn’t fail on any of the above accounts. The book comes two years after his immensely popular Bill Hodges trilogy (his last Sleeping Beauties in 2017 was co-written with his son Owen King). Outsider carries forward the ever-popular character of Holly Gibney—the private detective of the Hodges trilogy—who, with her unparalleled imagination and superlative sense of the paranormal world, helps in bringing the story to its climax. She is the real hero of the book “who comes prepared for all eventualities”.
The novel keeps you hooked right from the beginning when popular baseball coach Terry Maitland is arrested in Flint City (a fictional city in Oklahoma) for the gruesome murder of a teenage boy. What follows is a rollercoaster chain of events that provide concrete eyewitness accounts of Maitland’s crime, as well as an airtight alibi that proves he is innocent. Torn between the two chain of events is detective Ralph Anderson, who has to find out the real ‘outsider’ responsible for the crime. King builds the run-up to the crime effectively and provides numbing descriptive details of the murder. As the story moves forward, what looked like a prosecution trial, ridden with forensic evidence, changes into a battle with supernatural forces.
The book is well-researched. Myths and tales of yore are woven into the narrative without much effort and the reader is prepared well in advance about the eerie turn the book will eventually take. The supporting characters in the book provide the story with a nuance that only King can bring into a crime tale. It’s a book that isn’t exceedingly bone-chilling. Rather, the details will leave you with just a bit of unease and curiosity about an unknown world. In the end, Outsider is a book that will tell you that reality is what we perceive it to be, no matter how skewed or strange it looks in the beginning.