Novel Title: The Colorado Kid
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Writer: Stephen King
Release Date: October 4, 2005
Not much happens in the sleepy town on Moose-Lookit Island, Maine. New The Weekly Islander intern Stephanie McCann is about to learn from editor David Bowie and owner Vince Teague that it hasn’t always been the case. On April 24, 1980, the body of a man was found. While the man appears to have choked to death, he has no identification and no one seems to know his identity. As young journalists, Bowie and Teague set out to solve the mystery of the man nicknamed the Colorado Kid…but sometimes questions have no answers.
Written by Stephen King, The Colorado Kid was published as part of the Hard Case Crime imprint. The novel is the thirteen volume in Hard Case Crime series following Dutch Uncle by Peter Pavia published in October of 2005. The Colorado Kid was published in paperback with a limited edition hardback release in 2007. Stephen King’s novel preceding The Colorado Kid was the non-fiction Red Sox book Faithful which was co-written with Stewart O’Nan (released in December 2004). The novel was used as the basis for the SyFy series Haven which ran from June 2010 to December 2015.
The Colorado Kid was promised to be a different type of Stephen King novel. With a nod to crime novels, King was breaking from his classic horror format for the story. Though the story does follow a number of crime tropes in its construction, it seems to fail as a crime novel. A bit of a ******Spoiler Alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review since the novel is a bit of a mystery.
The story is told in a flashback format with Bowie and Teague telling Stephanie McCann of the events of 1980. The front of the novel has a seductive femme fatale and looks like a classic crime, but reading the book, it feels like a bait and switch. There is no femme fatale and the mystery isn’t much of a mystery (it does have a bit of a potentially supernatural twist to it a la Stephen King).
This doesn’t mean it is necessarily a bad book, but I don’t know that it fits the promises of the imprint. The mystery isn’t answered and can’t really be answered. When you go to into a pulp mystery, you expect a smoking gun and a confession of guilt. There isn’t necessarily even a crime in the story (though it is implied there probably is). It is almost too artsy, but it also doesn’t feel revolutionary enough to turn the genre on its ear in a creative way.
Stephen King is one of the best character creators, but this isn’t his best in that department. Though both Bowie and Teague are well rounded, I feel that McCann is paper thin and also rather annoying. King overwrites the character who seems to end each chapter with her mouth hanging open. This feels more attune to the ideas of pulp but also doesn’t mesh well with the story or other characters.
Fortunately, The Colorado Kid is a short quick read. Some might read it and be agree (King even states that in his afterword. I always liked that King generally did a little reflection on his novels and was open to admitting that they didn’t always work. For me, The Colorado Kid wasn’t quite up to snuff as a crime novel, but it does have some interest. Hard Case Crimes followed The Colorado Kid with their fourteenth release The Girl with the Long Green Heart by Lawrence Block in November 2005 and Stephen King released Cell in January 2006 with a return to the Hard Case Crimes series in 2013 with Joyland.