I’m Stephen King’s second biggest fan. Annie Wilkes holds that honor, sort of. That being said, I confess I have had “The Colorado Kid” both in paperback and on my Kindle for a long time. Usually, I cannot resist a new King book and plunge in as soon as I grab hold of one. It wasn’t until I started writing my own crime mysteries that I took a second look at this little book.
A good mystery lays out the clues and leads the reader around different theories, allowing the said reader to draw a few conclusions of his own. Starting off with the likable team of journalists who make up a small-town Maine newspaper, King sets the stage for the story of the ‘Colorado Kid’. After Vince Teague and Dave Bowie share some stories of unsolved mysteries of the area with a Boston Globe feature writer, they return to their office with intern Stephanie McCann. It’s there that the tale of the twenty-five-year mystery is told.
Vince and Dave talk about other Maine and New England mysteries until Stephanie presses them to reveal the story they wouldn’t share with the outsider. Despite the fact that Stephanie came to the Weekly Islander from Ohio, she had gained the respect of the older men during her three months in the small town.
From the discovery of the dead body by a couple of high school students running near Hammock Beach in early spring, through the clues set out in the story, the story is compelling. The evidence is right there in front of them but putting it all together is a challenge before DNA, computers, and the internet.
Was the man a murder victim? Had he had a heart attack? Did he somehow commit suicide? Or was it some kind of accident? But the most important question is, who is the man?
King’s brilliance is his ability to write dialogue that rings true. It’s like standing behind and listening to the town constable and the local doctor discuss the body and what might have occurred. Each character seems to hold a piece of the story. But it’s only the persistence of “a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics” that the identity of the kid comes to light.
While the story doesn’t end there, it does add to the mystery of what the body of the dead man was doing on a beach in Maine. I leave it to the reader to discover how the story ends… or doesn’t end. A word of warning, not all mysteries are solved. This book is not about answers but about man’s natural curiosity and need for solid endings. In “The Colorado Kid” King brings to mind the Rolling Stones lyrics, “You can’t always get what you want.” But sometimes you get what you need.
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…