With his new novel, The Outsider, Stephen King has written a hybrid tale that begins in the Crime genre and then crosses over to finish wholly within the Horror genre. It's a dizzying switch for readers to make and the result may not be satisfying for some.
The novel opens with an impossible crime enigma. Flint City kids baseball coach Terry Maitland is arrested for the perverse murder of an eleven year-old boy. Fingerprint and DNA evidence from Maitland is conclusive that he is the killer. Eyewitness statements add confirmation it was him. There's just one problem. Maitland was with a group of fellow teachers at a conference seventy miles away at the same time the boy was murdered. Video camera footage at the conference confirms Maitland's alibi. He couldn't have been the killer. He couldn't be in two places at once. Or could he?
This is the compelling crime puzzle that King sets up. But to provide an answer, the novel has to shift radically into the supernatural realm of things such as doppelgangers and shape-shifters. It's a theme King has explored before in his work, notably in the novel, The Dark Half.
For readers looking for a straight Crime fiction story, The Outsider may be a disappointment with its sudden outright supernatural turn. For fans of the Horror fiction thrillers that Stephen King is best known for, the book may be just what they're looking for.