The Outsider - Stephen King

A familiar face ambles around town making sure plenty of people see him going about his business... covered in blood. What the residents of Flint City don't know is that the Terry Maitland they saw on the July afternoon was not Terry, but an exact duplicate. This duplicate leaves exact DNA, exact fingerprints and solid eye witnesses behind to frame Terry for a brutal murder of an 11-year-old boy. However, after a very public arrest in front of the entire town the suspect, Terry Maitland or "Coach T" to all the kids on his baseball team, has a rock solid alibi putting him miles away at the time of death.

Before I start, a quick shout out to my mum for lending me this book and for always encouraging me to read. I was so excited to add this to my October reading list because I had heard nothing but good things. We're dropped straight into a murder investigation where local police are convinced an upstanding member of society is guilty and take no chances in letting him go. I love a good true crime story and this opening got me hooked into reading as much of this as quickly as possible but the actual progression was so slow. New information and developments kept popping up, but I couldn't grasp them being big enough to develop the story further. Page turning became a chore and I really just wanted the story to start wrapping up and to give some big reveal to keep me interested.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Stephen King's strongest writing skill is his characterisation but these characters felt so bland. Only "The Outsider" had any kind of depth to their personality, everyone else felt very one-dimensional and their only redeeming quality was the very thing that kept them related to the murder investigation. I didn't realise how much I didn't enjoy the characters until the end of the book, I couldn't tell you anything interesting about a majority of the characters that are key players to the story.

The opening pages gave me so much hope that this would be murder/mystery-esque story where we have a framed suspect and a twisting story that eventually leads us back to a crazed psychopath trying to get away with murder. Unfortunately this didn't pan out and the ending was disappointing in many ways. The supernatural is obviously a strong theme in King's work but this felt forced and flexed so it was perfectly convenient to tie up the lose ends instead of developing a carefully thought out plan for the mystery murderer.

Overall, I enjoyed the theme of true crime and the continuous investigation but it just kept going too far. The ending just revealed itself very slowly so there was no big reveal so I nearly missed it, but then the devolution of the real killer happened in half a page - what kind of 'showdown' is that? Not a very gripping one.

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