Supernatural thrillers are my favourite. They have the feel of a proper whodunit with a large scale possibility to turn in around with a ghost, demon, angel etc. This kind of surprise element is almost always welcome by readers. But Stephen King’s fans are always on the lookout for it. Those who are familiar with his Bill Hodges Trilogy knows how elusive those first few chapters can be. It throws you completely off track of what will happen next and this adds to the effectiveness of the ending when it hits you. Also, the characters are made to be fall in love with. If you’ve read this trilogy, you can’t say you don’t just love Holly Gibney. So, for Holly’s fans, King has brought us a surprise package with his new novel, The Outsider.
The Outsider is about a heinous crime which shook the small town of Flint City. The case became more mind-boggling when it was found that the suspect has an airtight alibi. Now, detective Ralph Anderson has to find the actual killer whose victims, it seems, are not limited to the boy who was killed. It’s not a one-man job and thus, non-other than Holly Gibney herself will be joining him. The stakes are higher than they were ever before.
It kind of seems like a sequel to The End of Watch (Book #3 of Bill Hodges Trilogy). Mostly because Holly played such a big part in it. This doesn’t mean you put this back as you’re in no mood to go through 3 other books. The Outsider is a strong independent novel which takes a little time to take off, but then you can’t get enough. The initial few chapters are a little overdrawn with too many characters and very less momentum. It picks up right after we get a little hint of the supernatural. Its like we can see how comfortable King is with this kind of a plot. The main characters, the one involved with the crime or the case, the accused and their family are memorable. They make a pretty good team and are easily capable to be brought back for a sequel. One thing which nag me a little is how much the story depends on Holly’s involvement. It felt like the protagonists, which is clearly Ralph Anderson, is pushed back to the backseat. Many a times he is just a spectator. Nevertheless, it seems alright as its Holly who we adore.
The second half of the novel is when it picks up the pace. The killer/entity is intriguing. Best thing is, it has a legend attached to it which brings it as close as it can get to being authentic. I would definitely check all about it just to make perfectly sure that it’s not real, as it was creepy as hell.
The ending did not give any indication of a sequel lined up. But we can’t be so sure with King. He might come up with one when we least expect it. I know I will be waiting eagerly. Ralph’s journey can go so many different ways. As we know, there is no end to the universe.