Friday, October 28, 2005

The Colorado Kid -- Stephen King

The Colorado Kid is by Stephen King, it's published by Hard Case Crime, and it's dedicated "With admiration, for Dan J. Marlowe, author of The Name of the Game is Death, Hardest of the hardboiled." So what kind of book would you expect it to be? If you said, "Something like Marlowe's book or another Hard Case novel," you'd be dead wrong. This is about as far from The Name of the Game is Death as you can get. If this were a Gold Medal novel, it would be by Vin Packer, not Dan J. Marlowe. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And if you were thinking, "Well, it's Stephen King, so it must be weird," well, you'd be wrong about that, too.

It's the story of a body found on a beach in Maine, told by two colorful geezers to a much younger woman many years after the fact, so there's another story going on too, about the young newspaper reporter who's coming to love life on the island where she's working as an intern and who's learning a lot from the two old men who run the newspaper there.

The cover asks the question, "Would she learn the dead man's secret?" SPOILER ALERT! The answer to that is, no, she won't, and that's the whole point of the story. She learns a lot of things, but the major questions go unanswered. Some mysteries can't be explained, and they're all the more interesting for that. END SPOILER ALERT!

This book is neither hardboiled nor noir, but it's entertaining enough. It's slight, but it's certainly not disappointing, and I enjoyed reading it. It's brought Hard Case a ton of free publicity, which is great. I'm happy to add it to my Hard Case shelf.


Anonymous said...

Just picked this up at the grocery store today. Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

After what King said in the CBS interview about his youthful enthusiasm for tough writing -- Ed McBain, Dan Marlowe, Frank Kane, etc. -- I expected anything but this softboiled shaggy dog story. If Colorado Kid brought any writer to mind, it wasn't any noted hardboiled practitioner, but Harry Stephen Keeler! Same storytelling framing device, same fondness for dialect (the old guys doing their Parker Fennelly imitations).

Can't blame Hard Case. If Stephen King offers to do a book for you, you dance around the room & start writing press releases. Never mind whether what he delivers is at nothing like the sort of book your imprint is trying to publish.

Art Scott

Hardluck Writer said...

The Name of the Game is Death is one of my all-time favorite hardboiled books. What a great ending! I tried reading Colorado Kid, but couldn't get through it. Found the writing too artificial, too pretentious. Btw. Normally I like King. Misery is a great book, The Shining, The Stand, and a number of others are all fun reads.