On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues.
But that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...?
No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world's great storytellers presents a surprising tale that explores the nature of mystery itself...
Reviewed by Orson Scott CardThe Hard Case Crime series is a wonderful idea: a mix of original and reprinted hard-boiled detective novels by some of the best writers in the field, packaged to look like lurid 1940s and 1950s thrillers. And getting Stephen King to write a new novel as part of the series was quite a coup. King is the author of record when it comes to fiction set in America in recent decades, and here he is with a noir detective story. Alas, what he actually turned in was a cozy, a sort of Jan Karon take on the hard-boiled genre. And at the end, it turns out to be rather arty if by "arty" you mean "doesn't answer any important questions."Fresh out of journalism school, Stephanie McCann is an intern at a weekly newspaper in an obscure corner off the coast of Maine. She is writing homey features and reporting on trivial stories, but she rather enjoys it. Then a big-city reporter comes to town to gather stories about "unsolved mysteries." The paper's owner and the managing editor send him away unsatisfied, and then tell Stephanie the only real unsolved mystery on the island.The banter between the two old men provides all kinds of local color, but it also means the pace of the storytelling is glacial. It takes most of chapter one to explain why they filch the cash the big-city reporter left to pay for a meal. We're in chapter five before they start telling the story that gives the book its title. Years earlier, two high school sweethearts found a dead body on the beach. There was no identification, and only a few items found with the body gave any hope of telling where he was from. It isn't until too many chapters later, after much meandering, that the old men tell Stephanie (and us) how they found out the man was from Colorado, which led to the identification of the body.By the end we have learned little more than this: the man may or may not have been murdered; he could only just barely have made it to Maine from Colorado in time to die on that beach; and he had no known reason to make such a frantic trip in the first place. Nor do we actually care, since none of the characters do. They're only telling the story in order to explain that it's not a story at all a conclusion with which readers will heartily agree. The real mystery: why would the editors publish a story that will only frustrate anyone looking for the kind of hard-boiled detective novel they're promised on the cover? Stephen King is a very good writer, so even when telling a nonstory at elaborate length he is quite readable. I would have enjoyed this piece in a magazine. It's the misleading presentation that will rankle. Card's most recent novel is Magic Street (Del Rey).
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Colorado Kid
The thing that always makes me salivate when I see anything new (or something I missed previously) from Stephen King are his characters. The way you feel they are people you know. And, as always in a Stephen King novel, hope they survive or get their comeuppance depending on the character. This story does not disappoint in that regard. I wanted to be Stephanie and have the regard of those two eccentric gentlemen. The mystery in the story is very intriguing and I find myself contemplating my own scenarios of how to resolve it these many days later. Do I always need Mr. King to do it for me? As he states on his afterward, life doesn't always end so tidy, but it does always end.
The Colorado Kid
Woulda loved a finely crafted ending. King always has the best endings and endings of his caliber are what most great writers are missing. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and characters. I would buy The Colorado Kid and read it again! King brings me into the story and that's what I love about his works.
Makes You Think
The story is unfinished yet I still feel satisfied. That is why I read Stephen King.