As today is Friday 13th, I can think of no better way of celebrating this most suspect of days than by reviewing something that could be the most mysterious of mysteries – The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. My sincere thanks to Lydia Gittins at Titan who sent me the copy for review., and my apologies too as it has been sat on my shelf for far too long. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Stephen King’s bestselling unsolved mystery, THE COLORADO KID – inspiration for the TV series HAVEN — returns to bookstores for the first time in 10 years in an all-new illustrated edition.Available from: Amazon | Waterstones
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, and it’s more than a year before the man is identified. And 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 moving and surprising tale whose subject is nothing less than the nature of mystery itself…
When I first started talking about this book to Mandie, she knew automatically what I was talking about. She hadn’t read the book, but she was a fan of the TV series Haven, that has been loosely based on the story. Now I will feely admit that I am somewhat behind when it comes to TV. It is something that accompanies my reading as background noise, but I seldom pay it any great attention so whilst I recall having seen ads for Haven, my only real association with the name was the caravan parks which are dotted around the coast of the UK.
This is no bad thing as it meant I was able to come to the book, The Colorado Kid, with no expectations and no pre-conceptions. To me it was just a book and the characters and setting a complete unknown. And I think I like it that way as it really came to typify the whole nature of the story too. For this is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries; a story that has no real conclusion – no final explanation of what goes before – but that still manages to give you a complete sense of place and setting, and let me feeling satisfied, in spite of the lack of clear resolution.
This is a story about mysteries. About the unexplained. About how, as human beings we do not like lack of clarity. That as much a we may seek out the unexplained and the mysterious, we do so safe in the knowledge that we will also find the answers to the mystery, even if in the form of conspiracy or whispers. Using the central characters of Vince Teague and David Bowie (not that one) – two old time editors and reporters from the local paper, The Weekly Islander – and their intern Stephanie McCann, King retells the story of the eponymous ‘Colorado Kid’, a man who arrives – and dies – on the island with no explanation and, initially, no identity. Recounting the tale from the time the manis found until the time he is identified, Vince and Dave encourage Stephanie to ask a series of questions desgined to eke out the truth of the greatest mystery that the inhabitants of Moose-Lookit Island have ever known.
I love the way in which King builds his characters. Dave and Vince are brilliant narrators of the story, the chemistry between them such that the retelling bounces back and forth effortlessly, never once confusing me as the reader as to who is speaking. Stephanie is young, keen and asking all the questions just as they form in your own mind, and the whole thing captures the interest, the excitement and the compelling nature of the hunt. The search for the truth. You gain a clear impression of island life, the dismissive nature of cops in the eighties when a simple case of apparent accidental death is barely worth their time turning up in town for. The author even paints a very clear picture of the island, the scenery, the sunsets, the sense of separation from the lives of the mainlanders. It’s perfectly pitched.
And it’s terribly hard to review. to say to much will almost negate the need to read the story, although I’d highly recommend you do as no-one spins a yarn quite like Mr King. It’s not full of action or violence. There is no blood and gore. There isn’t even necessarily a nefarious bad guy lurking in the back ground … Or is there? What there is, without question, is good old-fashioned storytelling. And questions. Lots of questions. Perhaps too many for some readers and if you like a neatly tied package with a clear explanation at the end, you may to want to read this book. But then again, that is the very reason for – and the nature of – this book in the first place, and it is a highly entertaining piece of genius as a result.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Stephen King, but this has certainly reminded me why he was such a key part of my childhood reading. When it comes to storytelling, when you have it, you have it, and Mr King has it in spades.