Novel of the week The Out­sider

The Week - - Arts Review Of Reviews: Books - by Stephen King

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”.

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