Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review - Stephen King's The Colorado Kid

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: October 4th, 2005
Format: Kindle, 184 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy

Dave Bowie and Vince Teague are reminiscing about an old unsolved case to their new intern at The Weekly Islander newspaper. A man was discovered on the beach twenty-five years earlier, cause of death unknown, whose last few hours defy explanation. A year after his death the victim is nicknamed "The Colorado Kid" because of a pack of cigarettes he had on him when he died. He is eventually identified as James Cogan, but an identity doesn't solve a crime. Vince and Dave speculate on how in all their years as newspapermen this is the only true mystery they have come across. They have their theories, but the truth might never be found; they are getting up their in age, now the intern must carry the torch. She must remember "The Colorado Kid."

For quite a few years now I've had two close friends addicted to the television show Haven. I have spent the barest minimal energy to occasionally mock their love of a show with Eric Balfour in it. Come on, there's a reason he dies like five minutes into the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Yet their love of the show combined with Netflix having every season available to me meant that my willpower was broken over one summer by my love of marathoning shows. That and there's just something that's cheesy and fun about Stephen King shows, why else would I have Rose Red on DVD and stayed with Under the Dome to the bitter almost incomprehensible end? While falling for the show, because I did despite Eric Balfour's presence, I was also impatient. Could I figure out the mystery of "The Colorado Kid" before they did on the show just by picking up the book? So that was my grand plan, spoiled by Stephen King.

If you're going the way I went, from the show to the book, or even the other way around, from the book to the show, know now, they have minimal resemblance. In fact the mysterious murder of "The Colorado Kid" and the two lovely old codgers running the newspaper, Vince and Dave, are the only resemblance you are going to find betwixt the two. Though on the show they do love to liven things up with as many Stephen King references as they can, which is fun for his fans. I do find it interesting that in a television show that's basically Smallville without the superheroes, that the two characters I connected with most are Vince and Dave. Because the book, and in some regards the show, is Vince and Dave's story. Still, it is a flawed story, both on the page and on the small screen.

The main flaw, and hence the crux of my problem with the book is that it has no ending. Vince and Dave spin a yarn, that might have certain clues as to the outcome, but it is never spelled out, never revealed. For a person like me, this lack of closure is infuriating. I want to know if my theory is right! Life is full of ambiguity, fiction is there to give us some closure that we won't find in life. King has had a love of experimenting with endings for quite awhile. The ambiguous ending is the easiest cop out, but he has also serialized his tales, like with The Dark Tower, so that you can't skip to the end, thus having a drawn out conclusion. I have a feeling a lot of this has to do with his being raised by a mother who would read the end first, but that's just my opinion. Yet, even though he set out to try something new, I can't help myself wanting something old and concrete. This was like sitting around with your grandparents while they told you this fantastical tale but then five minutes before they were done they forgot the ending.

But the biggest question I'm left with is why this is part of the Hard Case Crime imprint of Simon and Schuster? How is this a hardboilded mystery? Hardboiled is noir and dark and Dashiell Hammett and dames and guns and lots of smoking... what hardboiled isn't is two codgers telling an intern over soda in a cozy Maine newspaper office about an unsolved murder. This story is far more Murder She Wrote and Jessica Fletcher than Sam Spade. Seriously, I am baffled by this. Was Stephen King's outline for this story "Would She Learn the Dead Man's Secret" and then he punked them? Was he purposefully subverting the genre? I haven't read King extensively, but this was just, odd. So odd in fact that he apologized in the afterword for what he did. I think I'll stick to the show, the early episodes before it got too weird and cancelled. Thanks for the effort Stephen, but you should know you shouldn't make excuses for your work.


Th ok s is the book that was used to launch the HCC line..and it's still their #1 bestseller. King wrote another book for them - "Joyland" - which is also available as a hardcover book with illustrations.

I meant "That book is.."

I've tried reading it a few times, but it's typical of my reaction to reading King's novels - I don't get engaged. It's probably not a bad a thing, since if I was, those images he conjures up in his horror novels would be hard to get out of my head..

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