The Outsider – Stephen King

… there were monsters in the world, and their greatest advantage was the unwillingness of rational people to believe.

Whenever I start a Stephen King novel I tend to flip through the first couple of pages searching for a list of characters. If I find one I panic a little, wondering how I’ll ever figure out who’s who in the King Zoo if he had to write a list of its inhabitants. If there’s no list I panic a little, wondering how I’ll remember who lives in the Zoo without a guide. There’s no list of characters at the beginning of The Outsider and it’s a testament to Mr King’s ongoing awesomeness that even though I totally sucked at reading this book (it took me over five weeks to finish it!) I was able to pick it up and get drawn back into his world immediately each time. And I knew who everyone was!

People are blind to explanations that lie outside their perception of reality.

You don’t need me to tell you the synopsis for this book. There are so many wonderful reviews already written by people who seem to have read every King book in existence. What I can tell you about is my very drawn out reading experience. When I started this book I had no idea that I would be meeting anyone from Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch or that at some point between starting to read and passing the point of no return parentheses would appear after the book’s name on Goodreads to inform me I was reading the fourth book of the Finders Keepers series. I own some of the responsibility for this ignorance as I have been a disgrace to the Kingdom by not having already read the first three books. Boo! Hiss! I suck! I know!

Strange, the things you noticed when your day – your life – suddenly went over a cliff you hadn’t even known was there.

Had I realised though I still would have read this book but after I’d read the first three. If you’re not planning on ever reading the first three books (no judgement here but I am quietly wondering what is wrong with you 😜) you can get away with reading this book as a standalone. If you venture into The Outsider without having already read the others then I need to warn you that you will prematurely learn how previous cases wrapped up, who died and most likely other bits and pieces that I don’t even know are spoilers yet.

‘How weird can this get?’ ‘Weirder,’ she said. Another thing of which she had no doubt.

Despite my own already stated failures in reading this book I would recommend it, but with a content warning for fairly graphic descriptions of the sexual assault and murder of a child. I had trouble stomaching a particular component of the description but once I made it through that section I had no further problems. Like many others before me I really enjoyed hanging out with Ralph and Holly. I also had quite a soft spot for Ralph’s wife, Jeannie, and would enjoy catching up with her over a coffee.

The more you find, the wronger it gets.

I’ve previously avoided the other books in the Finders Keepers series as my favourite King books have involved such fun as telekinesis, diners that belong in Back to the Future, super fans who understandably need their next read yesterday and the infamous dome surrounding Springfield. I usually get my crime fix through authors like Tess Gerritsen and haven’t wanted to really go there with Mr King before. Having read The Outsider now I do plan on reading Mr. Mercedes, etc, and will most likely reread this one once I’ve finished the first three, but I think I want to remedy some of my glaring omissions in early King lore first.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.

Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

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