By Katie Bourne, Copy Editor–
Stephen King is no stranger to the media world, especially with the release and success of the remake of It. Although adaptations of King’s haunting and psychologically disturbing novels and short stories have had a shaky past (we all remember how many mistakes The Dark Tower made), there is new hope with the release of The Outsider, a miniseries based on the 2018 best-selling novel of the same name. Reviews of the miniseries are overwhelmingly positive, but many point out one important detail: viewers haven’t read the book first. Now, I know there is a constant standoff between two camps on this issue: those who read first, and those who watch first. I felt it was important to offer up a pitch for those who haven’t yet watched the critically acclaimed miniseries and also enjoy King’s special brand of literary terror.
For those of you who do not enjoy gory details or spoiled stories, you might want to stop reading now.
Like many of King’s stories, the premise of The Outsider seems completely normal in the beginning. The story is centered around the investigation into a killer, one that lurks in the shadows of a sleepy town in Oklahoma, Flint City. Detective Ralph Anderson is working the murder case of a young boy, found brutally killed, raped, and mutilated right under the nose of the town. The DNA from the murder scene leads to one suspect definitively: the beloved Little League baseball coach Terry Maitland. There’s only one problem: Maitland is seen on video and by witnesses hours away at a conference in a neighboring town the same night the boy is killed. Despite all the forensic evidence pointing to Maitland as the killer, Anderson can’t help but have doubts about the ability of this pillar of the community to commit such a devilish crime. Becoming more and more unsure and anxious, Anderson consults with a private investigator. The P.I., Holly Gibney, may be familiar to King fans as she has connections to other novels including Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch. Together, Anderson and Gibney follow Maitland’s trail, ending up in Texas and in possession of a book Maitland held the very day the murder took place, hours away.
With this new evidence in hand, known only to these two, Anderson is put on guard detail during Matiland’s trial. In a story already so rattled with tragedy, Maitland is fatally shot outside of the courthouse by the supposed brother of the murder victim. Anderson retaliates, shooting the brother. With two people dead on his watch, Anderson is placed on administrative leave and thus stripped of all resources to help solve the case that is now eating away at him. With the help of Gibney and the supernatural knowledge of his wife, Anderson uncovers an ancient evil that chooses victims to masquerade as a shapeshifter that uses murder to survive.
The book closes with a chapter-long chase to expose this evil creature, leading to conflicts with mental illness, guilt and innocence, and the eternal question of fantasy versus reality.
The Outsider is definitely one for your reading list, and will terrify and entertain King and horror fans alike.