It’s not often
we get to review the same book twice. But in this case, it is a task we relished
greatly. Back in 2005 the newly arrived Hard Case Crime was shaking up the
paperback scene with their series of hard-boiled crime novels; some classic
reprints by long dead authors, others brand new tales by some of the leading
mystery writers of the day. Though not noted particularly as a mystery
novelist, Stephen King was approached to write a marketing blurb for one of
their future releases. To the surprised delight of publisher Charles Ardai,
King instead offered to submit a full manuscript entitled, “The Colorado Kid.”
bore you with the specifics; Ardai relates them in detail in his forward to
this new, deluxe edition. What we will tell you is that back then we were most
fortunate to be on their reviewers and one day the mail brought us a copy of
King’s book. As memory serves, we read it in two days and wrote a glowing
review. The book had struck a chord in us; one familiar with most writers. And
so here we are, all these years later, sitting down to revisit this truly
wonderful book in the hopes it will once again work its magic on us.
is a college journalism student from mid-Ohio who has come to a little island
off the coast Maine as part of a work-study program. Her bosses at the weekly
paper are two old natives, Vince Teague and David Bowie, the publisher and
editor respectively. Each is a veteran newshound with a whole lot to teach the
eager young lady. During the course of their tutelage, they bring up the topic
of unsolved mysteries and Steffi, as they call her, is instantly hooked. And so
they tell her story of the Colorado Kid.
years earlier, the body of a man had been discovered on the beach by two
teenage kids out for a morning jog. The body has no identification and as the
story unfolds, uncovering that and other facts becomes a slow and laborious
task. All the while, Steffi is mesmerized with each new scene her mentors relate.
Still, at the offset, they warn her that the story of the Colorado Kid will
frustrate her in the end. Why? Because is has no resolution.
dear readers is the genius of King’s offering; a mystery story left unsolved.
Upon its first printing, “The Colorado Kid” did indeed raise up a loud hue and
cry of “Foul!” Mystery fans weaned on traditional who-done-its naturally
expected by the book’s finale there would be a solution; fully exposing of the
killer and a fitting wrap up that would allow them to happily move on to the
next read. Alas King wouldn’t play by those rules here. His goal was something
much grander. He wanted to spin a yarn where the actual star was the mystery
itself; in all its unanswerable splendor. By doing so, he reflects the truth of
all our lives. For all the supposed control we have in living day to day, all
of us are in fact characters in a cosmic mystery whose final chapter has yet to
Colorado Kid,” remains a masterpiece of storytelling. It is rich in simple
folksy wisdom and eerie in its underlying conceit. Under the normal lies the
darkness and things that very much go bump in the night. Upon a second reading
we come away even more delighted than ever.
Another personal note, when we read it the first time we lived along the
Maine border in Southern New Hampshire. Today we live in Colorado. Go figure.
want to applaud the decision to add both a gorgeous new cover by Paul Mann and
some amazing interior illustrations by Mark Edward Geyer and Kate Kelton. Now
that’s pulp fiction!