Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Powerful Pages: The Outsider by Stephen King (2018)

Powerful Pages: The Outsider by Stephen King (2018)

Stephen King's latest is at once vivid and refreshing while also paying tribute to the maestro's biggest strengths.  Rich characters and a well-drawn setting are the key ingredients, but a thoroughly engrossing first act and an approach that blurs the lines between a legal thriller and a supernatural opus also present themselves as major assets.  The big bad is new and unique, and equally creepy, and the book moves at a quick pace--which isn't always a staple of King's fiction.  I felt like this book deftly combined the hard-boiled aspects of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers (both of which were totally devoid of supernatural shenanigans) with the passion for things that go bump in the night that has always elevated King's fiction.  While End of Watch, the bookend to the Bill Hodges trilogy, also intertwined the thriller and horror genres to potent effect, it leaned closer to the thriller side of the coin in tone and attitude.  The last two acts of The Outsider, on the other hand, surely represent balls-to-the-wall horror--and may even summon memories of King's leaner and meaner terrors born of the 70s and 80s, long before a bit more whimsy softened those harder edges a bit.  In the end, I found this one to be a real page-turner that made the most of all of King's tools, and I think that The Outsider stands as a nice bridge between his most bloodcurdling work and his most exciting offerings.

Final Grade: A

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