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on May 23, 2018
Either King is getting more comfortable with his ability to draw us in with a minium of words, or he's got a much better editor than he did at the start. I can't quite pinpoint when his verbosity stopped, but it's a welcome change.

This is more in the Mr. Mercedes universe than the old Derry/Castle Rock/Things that go bump in the night universe of old. It starts out being a perplexing murder mystery, and it's not until later in the story that supernatural elements start creeping in. By that time, though, you're so involved in the story that the supernatural elements seem plausible...and then they start making sense. As the book quotes, Arthur Conan Doyle (via Sherlock Holmes) said "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." King manages to eliminate the impossible, slowly yet surely.

I've started measuring how good I think a mystery/horror book is by how tense I get when I read it. I was extremely tense reading this one, wondering just what the solution was going to be.

I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoyed the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, or 11/22/63.
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on May 23, 2018
Damn you, Stephen King, Damn you to Hell! I had no sleep, the battery died on my Kindle, and my dog discovered me crouched in a corner gibbering like a mad monkey. The horror. The madness. Thank you, the one and only King, for giving me night terrors once again. Now, where's the coffee...
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on May 23, 2018
I loved this book! It’s always a sign of a good book when I can’t predict the plot. This book had me on the edge of my seat and made me feel a range of emotions from anger, sadness, and joy. I don’t like to include spoilers, so I won’t. This book was more old school Stephen King to me, and I liked that.
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When Stephen King "brings his A game," he can't be beat (at least in my opinion). And he definitely did in this book.

I loved this story from the first page to the end. The plotline, the in-depth characters, the dialogue he does so well - loved it and didn't want it to end.

A young boy is (beyond) brutally murdered in Flint City, Oklahoma (not Maine - can you believe it?). The police are so sure they know who did this atrocity that they don't even take the man they arrest in for preliminary questioning. Instead they very publicly arrest him and THEN find out he has an ironclad alibi. Really.

This starts out kind of like a "locked door mystery" and then segues into a creepy, scary horror tale.

Highly recommended - this is Stephen King at his best.
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When I post reviews of Stephen King, I quite often rate it at five stars and, consequently, many people assume I’m just another King groupie. If you are one of these, you might still find a reason to appreciate my take on this latest work by the master of horror, because this story goes into something much more than just horror. Be sure though that you are ready to journey through shock and awe as only Stephen King can guide you.

In searching my book of quotations, searching for just the right thought, I came up with this nugget of wisdom by the master of horror:

The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool - Stephen King

Demakis, Joseph. The Ultimate Book of Quotations (p. 490). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

BLUSH FACTOR: This is Stephen King, so, of course, there are ample profanities. As for me, I wouldn’t change a word, but that’s just me.

Reviewers and readers of Stephen King fall into three categories. My target audience is that segment that wants to know if this novel is little more than a re-hash of one of his other novels, or something fresh and titillating.

As for myself, I am close to being a dedicated fan, so keep that in mind as you proceed.

The Outsider blends typical King with the same sort of plot as his Bill Hodges series and some of that exhibited in the book 11-23-63. Where it differs markedly from both is the King gets us inside the head

EXCERPT

NOTE: I took the below excerpt from about the 15% mark, so don’t get the impression that this is a spoiler. What you’re reading here may, or may not shed light on the direction of the story. It is provided only so readers can get a feel for the language utilized with great effect to set the scene and establish the mood, as I call it, or to foretell the direction of the tale.

‘…deliberate. What possessed you? What on God’s green earth possessed you?”

Ralph felt his face heating up again. “You really want to know, counselor?”

“Ralph,” Samuels said warningly. He put a restraining hand on Ralph’s arm.

Ralph shook it off. “I wasn’t the one who arrested him. I had a couple of officers do that, because I was afraid I might put my hands around his throat and choke him blue. Which would give a smart lawyer like you a little too much to work with.” He stepped forward, getting into Gold’s space to make him stop the back and forth rocking. “He grabbed Frank Peterson and took him to Figgis Park. There he raped the kid with a tree branch, and there he killed him. Do you want to know how he killed him?”

“Ralph, that’s privileged!” Samuels squawked.

Ralph paid no attention. “Preliminary forensics suggests he tore the kid’s throat open with his teeth. He may even have swallowed some of the flesh, okay? All that got him so excited that he dropped trou and spilled his spunk all over the back of the kid’s thighs. Nastiest, vilest, most unspeakable unspeakable murder any of us will ever see, God willing. He must have been building up to it for a long time. None of us who were at the scene will ever get it out of our minds. And…’

King, Stephen. The Outsider: A Novel (Kindle Locations 961-971). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

BOTTOM LINE

I’ve tried to provide sufficient insight into “The Outsider” without spoiling the tale and without slipping any expletives into the review. If you have enjoyed King’s recent stories, I think this is even better than those. Mind you, my favorite of his remains “The Stand,” but this story is a very close second, or, perhaps, third.

Five stars out of five.

Did this review answer most of your questions and concerns? I encourage you to leave a comment below to help me provide reviews that work for you. Further, I am writing a book for aspiring reviewers and for product suppliers seeking reviews in an effort to help improve the process and to understand the value of Amazon’s Customer Review process.

Together, you and I can build something great. Will you join me?

One request: Be respectful and courteous in your comments and emails to me. I will do likewise with you.

Thank you.
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on June 8, 2018
Please note- Spoilers are in this review.

As The Outsider began, I was totally hooked, intrigued and comfortably back in King's world.
Beginning with protagonist Ralph Anderson's transcript of text questioning witnesses, The Outsiders was off and running.
The hideous crime itself, and the premise of the town good guy as suspect being at 2 places at the same time was top notch. From the crime itself
I was getting True Dectective (FIRST SEASON) vibes.
Could investigator Ralph Anderson have a connection to the suspect in some way? We are given hints in some ways by King but that goes no where.
Alas we never know.
The suspect, is killed, way way too early in the novel. And...After that, so went the plot .
From a riveting Mr. Mercedes serial killer case to a supernatural 'evil entity in a cave' aka The Marysville Hole in Texas no less the story lost it for me.

We then see the obvious similarities to IT, a Pennywise story of good vs evil supernatural force. Hidden away from humanity.
I was happy to see Holly Gibney, but even she couldn't save the predictable outcome. Though a possible romance is hinted at here.
Simply
The Outsider in its second half got confusing with secondary characters in Texas and the ending was all too familar.
It didnt start out that way....but...
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on May 27, 2018
After a rather dismal outing in Sleeping Beauties, my first Stephen King novel in a handful of years, I had kept my expectations for The Outsider firmly in check. I went into this novel with the expectation and hope that I would, at the very least, like it. Turns out, I freaking loved it!

Right from the very start, King grabbed me. And he didn't let go for the entire book's duration. The Outsider is gripping from page one, and reminds us why Stephen King is a storytelling master. Opening with a section called "The Arrest," King gives us a bit of a double-narrative. In the present-day, Detective Ralph Anderson is set to make an arrest in a gruesome homicide of a young boy. Jogging alongside this build-up toward the arrest is a bit of backstory, told through witness interviews, and police, forensic, and morgue reports, that give us the inside scoop on the victim and the perpetrator, Terry Maitland, a youth baseball coach in the midst of a season-ending game in a packed stadium. Anderson wants Maitland's arrest public, to be a spectacle of shame, and the case against Maitland is airtight - they have his DNA, his fingerprints, a number of witnesses accounting for virtually every one of his movements immediately leading up to and following the murder. It's an open and shut case.

Until it isn't. Until King starts to sow seeds of doubt into the case, small seeds initially, which blossom into wild, unexpected growths, and bits of information that blow the entire case apart and leave Anderson reeling.

The Outsider begins as a police procedural, one that sinks its hooks in deep with its compelling narrative and characters. Regarding the heinous murder of a child, it would have been easy for King to go the route of gruesome, exploitative shock if he wanted. Instead, he approached the case with an almost clinical detachment, delivering the details through impersonal reports from the various departments involved in a murder investigation. He let's us build our own nightmares from the information imparted in these transcriptions, which is a brilliant way to do it. There's a reason King is the Master of Horror, and The Outsider is very much a horror novel. The procedural elements are merely prelude, the meat and potatoes of the narrative backbone that get us to where we're going. What begins as a story of a very real human monster eventually takes on supernatural overtones as the narrative shifts toward the inexplicable. King's Constant Readers will likely find plenty of reason to celebrate the subtle links and parallels established between this work and earlier stories, including the Bill Hodges trilogy.

Some hash has been made over whether or not The Outsider is a continuation of the Hodges trilogy. I can't speak to that, as I never read that trilogy, but I am aware that the character of Holly Gibney appeared previously in those books. The Outsider is intended to be a standalone novel and works perfectly well on its own. However, Holly's introduction here necessitates the revealing of plenty of information regarding the Hodges trilogy by King. If, like me, you haven't read those prior books, you can expect a lot of spoilers for them throughout the last half of The Outsider. So, take that as you will and determine how to proceed.

If you don't mind having the Hodges books spoiled, then absolutely read The Outsider immediately. Do it right now. This book is simply that good. It's easily one of the most compelling narratives I've read this year, and the way King builds this book, effortlessly shifting from police procedural to horror, and injecting enough shocks to keep readers on their toes the whole way through, is absolutely masterful.

The Outsider could have been another phoned-in affair, like Under the Dome, which oftentimes felt like a Greatest Hits retread of King's most prominent works, or worse, Sleeping Beauties, a joyless and dull co-written imitation of King's epics that never captured any of the magic. Instead, this is a pure shot of adrenalized King straight to the heart. It's powerful and gripping, and a whole lot of damn fun, and it sucked me in deep enough that I was positively living this book the whole time it took me to read it. After more than 50 published novels to his credit, there's little reason for The Outsider to be as good as it is, and yet it's not just good - it's one of King's best. Not just one of his best in years, mind you, but one of his best period. This is the Master of Horror doing what he does best - giving us convincing characters alongside a larger-than-life horror, and scaring the hell out of us along the way.
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Captain King has written another incredible novel that happens to also be horrific. Like most of Stephen King's books, this one is hard to put down. The mystery and tension build around a small-town baseball couch arrested for the grisly murder of little Frankie Peterson. The book starts with a juxtaposition of police interview transcripts and narration that gives the reader the idea that Coach T probably did it, but that there's no way Coach T could have done it.

This may not become one of Stephen King's classics, but it certainly shows that he is still the master of the genre, and a skilled artisan at writing compelling fiction.

As an aside, my copy arrived in good shape (see pictures) despite being in an oversized box without any packaging material.
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on May 28, 2018
The Outsider by Stephen King is a book with some clear character assets.

Asset number one: Holly Gibney.

Readers were introduced to Holly in "Mr. Mercedes", at a time when she was still a shy and frightened mouse of a woman, a woman riddled with emotional health issues and an overbearing and controlling mother who kept her on a short leash. At first she seems unlikely to advance herself beyond the walls of home. Then she met Bill Hodges, a retired detective with an unsolved case to chase, and he changed her life. Once Holly joined in that venture, she blossomed into a character that I have continued to love through sequels "Finders Keepers" and "End of Watch".

Imagine my delight when she showed up in "The Outsider"!

Early on in this puzzling who-done-it, I found myself thinking it was a case Holly could sink her teeth into. So glad I was right about that.

After a popular teacher/sports coach is arrested for the horrific murder of a child, it appears that police have a iron-clad case against him. Unfortunately, it also appears he has an iron clad alibi.
Detective Ralph Anderson has his work cut out for him now.

I don't deal in spoilers, so other than saying that this story is a true example of Arthur Conan Doyle's quote: "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains. however improbable, must be the truth."

I will add that, as a child with Latino roots, I grew up with some folklore that has left me very open-minded regarding some of the improbabilities the characters are faced with.

From start to finish, a compelling read. Highly recommended.
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on June 15, 2018
Spoiler alert: turn back now if you don’t want general plot details.

This book spent the first 3/4 introducing characters and their relationships in great detail. Then he kills them all off and in the next 1/4 of the book the minor characters take over and bring in the King style creepy/horror to a final crescendo in the last several pages.

Not worth the time to read it. I kept hoping it would get better but was sorely disappointed.

~ Constant Reader
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