Book Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

Updated on May 30, 2018
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An avid book nerd, Jennifer Branton loves to share her favorite book finds with her readers.

Coach Terry

Terry Maitland is a pillar of his community- an English teacher, Coach of Little League and whatever sport would be in season. In his career, he has known generations of the community father to son through education and sports in Stephen King's newest The Outsider.

While coaching a game, the police arrive pulling Terry from the field in front of crowded bleachers, his team of young boys that looked up to him, his wife and two young girls watching in the stands.

An eleven year old boy affiliated with Terry's team has been found dead in the woods, killed in the most humiliating and torturous of manners and his defile remains are covered in blood and DNA that is a match to none other than Terry- but the Coach has an alibi, a conference for the English department where three of his other fellow teachers can attest to being seated next to Terry. Video even existed of Terry asking questions to the guest author on stage- so how can this man that has DNA left at a crime scene also be in two places at once and maintain his innocence?

In this new tale from King, we are forced to question the nature of science and the supernatural.

Witnesses On That Night

While very likable a man, there was no mistaking Terry Maitland for anyone else. The beloved teacher and coach was friendly with just about everyone in town and on the night of the murder of young Frankie Peterson, Coach Terry was around the town, being spotted in various locations talking to the public.

He is seen in a windowless white dirty van outside a park, covered in blood by a young child, and then in back of a bar where he had switched the dirty van for another vehicle, and even addressed two men having a cigarette outside of the bar by asking them if they knew where the nearest "Doc in a Box" was located, explaining just as he did to the young girl that the blood that covered his shirt and pants was from a nose bleed that wouldn't stop and may need to be treated by a doctor.

Still no one found any of this strange, until the news of Frankie's mutilated body was found the next day.

After the arrest, the media and the public perception changed as Coach Terry's DNA as well as a blood type matching that of Frankie Peterson was found in the cars, on the clothing, and the body of the child.

As witnesses stack up, it was impossible to not believe that Terry was a killer- but he has an air tight alibi.

Terry Maitland's blood has been found in the car, on the body, and at the crime scene- but if someone is pretending to be him, could forensic evidence be wrong?

How can a man be in two places at once with his DNA found at both the hotel where he was staying at for a conference and at the site of a murder of an eleven year old boy back at home?

In Cold Blood

Believing Coach Terry should be cleared as he was scene both in person and in video at a English teacher conference asking questions to a guest author, the DNA evidence and the witness statements can not be unproven.

Is there a way a man could be in two places at once? Could he have had the time to do the killing and then attend the conference?

When one of Terry Maitland's daughter's begins to see a mysterious man that she explains having a Play-Doh type face and straws for eyes. Taken as a grieving child's delusions as her father sits in jail and awaiting sentencing, no one believes the strange man story, until others begin to see him as well stringing together a list of other crimes and witnesses that cross the country.

On the day of sentencing, the police offered to have Terry wear a bulletproof vest walking into the courthouse passed the protesters, when the grieving teen brother of the victim opens fire, and kills Coach Terry in cold blood on the courthouse steps.

With the supposed killer dead and the grieving father the only member of his family left after a chain of deaths that started with Frankie, Mr Peterson tries to hang himself only to be saved in body alone as he remains unconscious at the hospital.

Maitland's family seeks to carry on with their lives and mourn Terry trying to preserve his innocence to a world that doesn't believe anything but the DNA evidence, but when the facts become stranger than fiction, is there a supernatural power behind these crimes?

Could someone else being wearing Terry's face? Is this Outsider that is beginning to be seen something from another universe?

Could an Outsider be wearing Terry's face? Does this explain the man that Gracie say that night with The Play-Doh face and straw eyes? Believed to be the delusions of a grieving child with a dead father, this first sighting goes brushed aside. But was the man that all the witnesses believed to be Terry the night of the killings, actually be the impostor?

Stranger Things

Author of over fifty novels including collaborations with his author sons, Stephen King serves up enough terrifying tale as strange as the stories he inspires in the supernatural and horror realm.

The Outsider might be one of the King's most thoughtful novels in sometime, taking a the brutal natural of something as terrible as the death of an innocent child in such a heinous way and turning it into a supernatural mystery that makes us question our own eyes and what we believe to be perception to the legality and legitimacy of forensic science at its core.

The Outsider is a brilliant novel from the master of horror with a twist that you won't believe or see coming.

Does Stephen King still have what it takes to be one of the best horror writers?

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Questions & Answers


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      • Guckenberger profile image

        Alexander James Guckenberger 

        20 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

        Natalie, the cool thing is that he has written so many. I totally agree with you! I love most of what I've read, but I generally only read the more popular books. He's an amazing man.

      • Natalie Frank profile image

        Natalie Frank 

        20 months ago from Chicago, IL

        I have always been impressed with how many different types of books he is capable of writing while still staying original. I won't say I loved all of his books, but given the number he has written I don't think that is unusual. I will say I always come back whenever he writes a new book and enjoy the vast majority of them. Thanks for this review. I haven't had the chance to read this book yet but it is definitely now top on my list of must reads for the summer.

      • Guckenberger profile image

        Alexander James Guckenberger 

        20 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

        I love his books.


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