Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Book Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider is a cut above the previous detective novels that it's related to for a few reasons: The shape of the plot is more surprising, as first as horrific but contradictory evidence accumulates and then as a major event sends things in a slightly different-than-expected direction. Also, the sci-fi/horror elements are more vivid than in Mr. Mercedes, and they contrast well with police and legal details. There's just more going on. The best parts of this book are in the middle, with the exponentially spiraling nature of evil and the deep empathic stab of guilt and grief. King does these feelings as well as anyone, and it makes up for the occasional gratuitous gross-out or stereotype. The ending is atmospheric but ultimately superficial compared with the emotional depth of the middle act. Near the end it's just too obvious where this is all going, and it could come together and pay off more satisfyingly. Still, the moments that remind me why I read anything new by King, they're all here and this was a fitting Halloween read.

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