I would say that Stephen King has earned his wily old codger wings with the publication of this Hard Case Crime novel. The Colorado Kid is unlike anything King has done before. For starters, this King fan didn't even know about this little red book until after it was published. It doesn't even look like a Stephen King novel, with its nour-ish cover and provocative tease line. It didn't read like Stephen King, either – not the first chapter anyway. My first impressions were in no way encouraging. When King starts telling the story of the mystery, though, I was intrigued – so much so that I didn't put the book down until I had finished it. I can't say I'm a big fan of the ending, but I don't have a problem with it either. King does an eloquent job of explaining what he has done here in the Afterword. There, he admits that readers will most likely either love or hate the book – and I think he's right, at least to a degree. As intrigued as I was by the story, I can't say I love it, just because of that ending. Those who criticize The Colorado Kid, though, have legitimate reasons for doing so.
The Colorado Kid is the initial moniker given to a middle-aged man who turned up dead on the beach of Moose-Lookit Island (off the Maine coast) back in 1980 – just another John Doe to the local cops. He would never have been identified without the help of the two old men running The Weekly Islander; they did more investigating than anyone with a badge ever did. Over the courser of a quarter of a century, they've returned time and again to the mysterious death of this stranger on their little island. They've turned up a number of facts about the dead man, every one of which only seemed to deepen and complicate the whole picture of who this man was and how he came to die there on a beach far away from his home in Colorado.
In these pages, the two old newspaper men tell the story of The Colorado Kid to Stephanie, a young intern there at The Weekly Islander. It's a rite of passage in a way, showing the young lady she has been fully accepted into the local island family. It lets the two vets test their young charge while also providing her with important insights into the twin arts of journalism and storytelling. I found myself just as intrigued as Stephanie with the increasingly confusing depth of the mystery; like her, I wanted a solution to clear up all of the confusing facts. And there we have the proverbial rub.
Most likely, hard-boiled crime story enthusiasts will have more problems than Stephen King fans with The Colorado Kid – although a right many of King's most loyal subjects may well balk at what the master has done in this odd endeavor off the beaten path. As long as I was flipping the pages, though, I was fully engrossed in the story – it's not vintage Stephen King storytelling, but it's pretty darn good. The trouble only comes at the end, as it's a bit of a let-down. King's Afterword, though, puts everything into perspective and changes your viewpoint of the entire story – it's the saving grace that allowed this loyal King fan to really appreciate The Colorado Kid for what it is.
on 10 April 2006
I really enjoyed this little novella.
In one way it isn't typical Stephen King fare. There's no real horror and it's just two old codgers telling a mystery story to a young woman. I thought the old codgers though were very typical Stephen King characters, entertaining crafty old men with a good story to tell.
King is often underrated. Because of the horror focus of his work, his feel for storytelling and character is ignored. Hopefully this story will go some way towards redressing the balance.
Well worth reading, and well worth trying if you haven't particularly liked King's writing in the past.
on 22 May 2008
There is a reason why King is the world's best-selling author and this little book shows why. The story could have been told in half a page - indeed the story itself, which was inspired by a newspaper article, could be published in maybe one column of newsprint. Yet Stephen King teases it out into the gossamer threads of a delightful read - and that is his magic: He can tell us any story, use any subject matter, be it bogeymen from outer space or last week's shopping list, and make us sit up and take notice. Be warned though, if you are looking for monsters in this book, or a clear-cut ending: there are none. If you admire King's writing, you don't need me to tell you to read this.
The Colorado Kid is a brilliant examination on the allure of mysteries, as a young newspaper intern hears the tale of an unsolved death and the odd facts surrounding the case. The only readers I can see who might have a problem with this excellent novella are those who are misled by the (admittedly beautiful) hardboiled crime packaging – there’s certainly nothing ‘hardboiled’ about this case, and anyone expecting the usual mystery novel dénouement will be disappointed. ‘Would she learn the dead man’s secret?’ asks the cover blurb, and the answer is a resounding no – King makes it perfectly clear from the very start of the book that this is one whodunit with no easy answers, and while he does offer some heavy clues as to what might be the real explanation for the death of the Colorado Kid the real meat of the story is less in resolving the mystery than in exploring the allure it holds for the characters. The three central characters – the young intern and the two curmudgeonly old newspaper hacks – are all compelling, brilliantly drawn personalities, and it will be a pity if this is the last we see of them. With this being a short piece and with no UK publication it is possible this may appear at some future time in the next short fiction collection of King’s, but at a fairly cheap price I wouldn’t recommend waiting. The Colorado Kid is one of the best things Stephen King has produced in a long while – it just might not be quiet what you expect.
on 31 August 2006
In every book and movie of one of his books, Stephen King's strength is more within his characters than the storyline. The storylines, however, are usually meaningful and touch the heart, and he has a way of tapping into obvious themes which we kick ourselves, (and probably other authors do, too), for not thinking about such a simple idea ourselves. Much as The Colarado Kid is a great and fascinating read where King has drawn beautiful characters yet again, this story, even though well worth reading, is not truly of the pulp fiction genre. Publishers, Hard Case Crime, were obviously thrilled when Stephen King sent them the manuscript, but had it been written by any other author I feel it would have been rejected for being way-off-target. However, it heightened HCC's profile and is a feather in their cap as King simply sent them the script out of the blue. For the true King fan this is a must, and it's an interesting read even if you're just a casual reader of this genre, but the pulp fictionalised gung-ho characteristics of bullets bouncing off the main character are missing, but Stephen King is a law unto himself and does whatever he wishes with his audience loving it. The characters, flawless, the story, not truly pulp fiction in the strictest sense.
on 1 March 2012
To be honest this book I've read mostly out of curiosity, since one my favorite TV series, Haven, is based on it. The thing is though that after reading the book I've come to realize that its connection to the series is so light that if I didn't already know it existed, I'd be really surprised if I ever found out about it. What the creators of the series did was take one of the many mysterious cases mentioned in the novel and built on it, while bringing at the same time to the forefront some of the secondary characters.
But, let's take things from the beginning. In 1980 a young couple discovers on the shores of an island in Maine, the corpse of a man, to whom the authorities bestow the nickname The Colorado Kid. No one seems to know who he is and how he ended up there, while at first even his death is a mystery of sorts.
We learn about the story of the Kid, as well as about some other strange occurrences and phenomena that have taken place in the region, through the collaborative narration of the two elderly journalists, who run the local newspaper. Their audience is a young and beautiful intern, who thinks that she has a lot to learn from the two men. The question is though, can she believe them? Well, that's not so easy to do since what they tell her, doesn't really make any sense. According to them, strange things have always been happening around there, which over the years claimed an important role in the local folklore: once a group of people fell victims to mass poisoning from drinking tea, an adventure from which only two of them survived, with one of them showing no symptoms whatsoever; at some other time an utterly deserted ship washed to shore and as the locals have it, it was some ghosts that led it there; and after that, the really unexpected happened, an Unidentified Flying Object was spotted by many people in the sky over the town.
Stephenie, the young woman, listens attentively to the two men, she absorbs their stories and tries to discover all by herself and within her own soul, the answers to the mysteries that her mentors talk about. The two of them seem not only to want to test her analytical capabilities, but also to challenge her logical mind, and thus open her eyes to the realities that she could never up to that moment believe to exist.
While reading this book the reader gets the feeling that somehow, somewhere there's a rational explanation for everything that's happening, but the mystery keeps challenging his senses and the myth keeps his attention alive and alert. Some of the answers will come to light by the end, some won't. But, one way or another, what matters most is the story, and this is a good one. The author is not interested in playing the fear card, he just wants to tell a story and that he does splendidly.
If any of you have watched the series I'm sure that by reading this book you'll only recognize but a few points of reference: the two journalists, the landscape, the female version of the Colorado Kid and maybe one or two of the stories. However, I'd like to congratulate the people behind it for managing to create a whole world, with a pantheon of great characters and plots full of mystery, taking their inspiration from a short novel like this. They really did a great job.
on 24 October 2005
The book is part of the Hard Case Crime line, all of which are-apart from this book, it seems-"hard-boiled crime fiction, from lost pulp classics to new work by today's most powerful writers", to quote the blurb on the back, having titles like "Say It With Bullets" and "Fade to Blonde", all resplendent in Pulp-era covers. King's "The Colorado Kid" doesn't seem to fit this bill, somehow, being instead a sort of meta-story on the nature of mystery. Unlike most of King's other works, this book is a slimline 180ish pages long. Hanratty, a reporter with the Boston Globe visits Moose-Lookit Island, a coastal Maine town, with a view to researching for a series called "Unexplained Mysteries of New England" for his paper. To this end, he interviews the owners of Moose-Lock's newspaper, Vince Teague and Dave Bowie (!), together with their intern, Stephanie McMann. Once the Boston reporter has left, McGann wonders if they were both holding something back from him, cueing a mostly plotless story about a long-unexplained murder/death that's told entirely by conversation. Not a lot happens, and what does happen, happens very slowly. But this is actually a lot more entertaining than I've probably made it sound. King, as usual, writes good dialogue. King is also pretty good when he's writing about seemingly nothing in particular, and despite the slow pacing, the book never drags. McGann and Teague do the charming, small-town gentleman thing that King does so well, but the heavy dose of colloquialisms begins to grate after a while. And while the two men do talk about a mystery, most of the story isn't about that. Rather, it's about what makes a mystery a mystery and why people need them in their lives.
So, the book's something of a slow-burner and a thinker, and, overall, it's a pleasant (rather than gripping/scary) read.
"I write to find out what I think, and what I found out writing "The Colorado Kid" was that maybe- I just say maybe- it's the beauty of the mystery that allows us to live sane as we pilot our fragile bodies through this demolition-derby world."
This phrase at the end of Stephen King's mystery, says it all. I understand his message, and it is a beauty. While reading this book, and it is a very quick read, I was thinking, "What is Stephen King thinking? This is not his style. There is something more to this" Stephen King is giving us a life lesson, and I will leave it up to you to figure this out.
Maine, an island off the coast of, Moose-Lookit Island. Stephanie, a post grad from the U of Ohio is putting in her time as intern on "The Weekly Islander", the local paper. She had almost left as soon as she arrived because the local dialect was so difficult for her to understand, you all know, "Ayuh" the Maineism we all talk about. The young lovely has hooked up with the owner and the main journalist-,Vince Teague and Dave Bowie. They are two old fashioned Maineiacs who essentially run the paper and know everything worth knowing. They are engaging Stephanie in small talk after a "Boston Globe" reporter left them, trying to dig up a mystery, a story that hadn't been told. Would these men talk to someone from Boston and give them the best story they know? Of course not, but to Stephanie, they will tell a tale and ask her to figure things out.
Two teenagers waiting for a ferry find a man sitting on a beach. The strange thing is, he is dead, sort of tilting over a bit, and a pack of cigs falling out of his pocket. They call the local police who calls the doc and the two newspapermen. Ahh, the mystery begins, No identification, and not much of an investigation, It takes a full year for the body to be identified, and we are party to this telling. We hear the story and how some clues originally overlooked become so important. Stephanie does a credible job in keeping up with these men and heir stories and linking one clue to another. What we don't see as his story continues is the underlying meaning of this all. The energy in this telling is one to remember.
Anyone who follows and reads Stephen King understands that what we think is a certainty is never what it seems. I told you I was surprised in reading this book- it was not like any other Stephen King novel. I have to let you figure this one out . This is a "corker". Ayuh! Highly recommended. prisrob
on 21 August 2013
Anyone who knows me will no doubt be quite surprised that I like this book. In fact I even wrote a review just yesterday complaining that I felt like I read half a story because I didn't feel satisfied with the ending. The Colorado Kid has the ultimate no-ending. The mystery stays a mystery and for some reason I was okay with that. It might of been the afterword by Mr King himself (that mentions life is a mystery and damn the man is right) or maybe it's just the fact we need a little mystery in our lives - either way I adored this book and I had fun guessing and imagining up endings after finishing it.
I must point out I originally read this as I really enjoy the TV show Haven but on completion of the book I can confirm what other people say - it's absolutely nothing like the TV show. In fact the only read similarities are the two characters that appear in both and the name 'Colorado Kid' which pops up in the show yet has little to do with the one mentioned here.
on 23 January 2015
After hearing various rumours in recent years that Stephen King was considering retiring, especially after publication of the final instalments of his "Dark Tower" series, which happened in 2004, news of the publication of "The Colorado Kid" came as something as a relief. Especially to someone like me, who has been such a fan for so long that when he addresses the foreword to his books to "Constant Reader", I feel as if he's talking to me.
What was interesting is that the book was to be part of a series called Hard Case Crime, which publishes nothing but crime novels. Whilst this is an area that King has dabbled in before in short story form in "Nightmares and Dreamscapes", with "The Doctor's Case" featuring Sherlock Holmes and "Umney's Last Case" being an obvious homage to Raymond Chandler, it's new ground for him as a novel. That said, "The Dark Tower" wasn't exactly King's standard horror writing.
Stephanie McCann is a young intern working for "The Weekly Islander", the local newspaper of Moose-Look Island just off the coast of Maine. After telling a feature writer from the "Boston Globe" that there really are no unexplained mysteries around that part of New England, her colleagues and teachers of sorts Vince Teague and Dave Bowie proceed to tell her that Moose-Look Island does have one all of their own.
They proceed to tell Stephanie a story of a man found dead on the island early on November morning some twenty five years previously, with no identification and no apparent way of getting where he did. This isn't a story with an obvious ending, nor a mystery with an obvious solution. For Stephanie, school is in, and she learns plenty about what it means to be a newspaper writer as well as what it means to be a part of the Moose-Look community as she goes.
It's a pretty simply written tale, in contrast to the mystery the tale unfolds. King has always been a pretty good story teller and that is pretty much all he does here. There is little preamble and little back story, it's just these three sitting around whilst a story is told. It's a style that King has used before, with "The Breathing Method" from "Different Seasons" being written in a similar fashion, although that was more of a horror tale than a crime one. Indeed, of King's own novels, this comes closest to "Dolores Claiborne" in style and substance than anything else.
Despite the nature of the tale, the way it is told gives it an easy going feel. In King's books, and maybe for real for all I know, the people of Maine and especially the islands seem fairly easy going and laid back. This comes across in a lot of King's writing, especially when he's using a character to do nothing but recite a story and it is true here, too. Although there is death involved, it's told in a way that almost comforts the reader, as if King is trying to lull you into a false sense of security before hitting you with a huge twist right towards the end.
The disappointing part of the whole thing is that the twist never arrives. The book seems to end rather than conclude, leaving the reader a little let down. This is how it seems first time around, although on reading the story again, it actually made a lot more sense and was a lot more satisfying second time around. It was like the film "eXistenZ" in many ways, in that it takes a little while to appreciate the true beauty of what has happened. School is in for the reader, as well as for Stephanie McCann.
I suspect that regular crime thriller fans might be a little disappointed by this and it's clear that publication of this book - more of a novella than a full novel - in the Hard Case Crime series has been prompted more by the name of the author than how well the book itself fits in with the series. That is to say that crime fans may not get as much out of this as other books in the genre, purely due to the nature of the tale.
As with much of King, this is a decent story, pretty well told. Unlike with much of King, it doesn't go too far out of the way on the journey, so it's quite a quick and enjoyable read. Admittedly, fans who like King's horror work best may not be too pleased and fans of crime thrillers, particularly the old style kind, will most likely finish disappointed.
As a fan of King who happens to think his non-horror work has on many occasions surpassed his horror novels, this is a joy to me. It's rare that I find a book more satisfying the second time around, so this has also been a revelation in that aspect, too.
It's not a story that will win any awards, but if you're a fan of King, particularly "Dolores Claiborne" and his short stories, this is definitely worth picking up. After so many years of reading horror stories and having to work around King's obsession with completing the journey to "The Dark Tower", this comes as a very welcome change of pace, style and page count and proves to be a delightful way to spend a quiet evening or a long journey.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk