Novel of the week The Outsider
Hodder & Stoughton 496pp £20 The Week Bookshop £18 At almost 500 pages, Stephen King’s latest novel is, for him, a “relative tiddler”, said Katie Law in the London Evening Standard. A crime procedural with a supernatural twist, it opens in Flint City, Oklahoma, with the gruesome murder of an 11-year-old boy. The evidence points overwhelmingly to a local sports coach named Terry Maitland, who is arrested and charged. Except it then emerges that he has a “rock-solid” alibi, having been filmed in a neighbouring town at the time of the murder.
At this point, King abandons the conventions of crime fiction and instead “heads full-tilt into irrational territory”, said Joan Smith in The Sunday Times. As he “drags in monsters from Mexican folklore”, it’s clear that he’s having great fun – but the shift of genre feels awkward, making this seem like “two very different novels cobbled together”. I disagree, said James Smythe in The Guardian. By introducing horror elements, King is giving his fans “exactly what they want at the same time as cramming in new ideas”. The Outsider proves “that his novels are as strong as they ever were”.