Review: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

the-colorado-kid

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date Read: July 1 to 6, 2014
Read Count: 1
Recommended by:
Recommended for: fans of unsolved mysteries, and fans of the show Haven[1]

Stephen King is a summer tradition that started when I first read Carrie and The Shining one summer. Both books left an impression by scaring me quite a bit; I really shouldn’t have read them back to back. Since then summer usually meant horror, but I’ve out grown most traditional horrors. Now summer just means Stephen King. I don’t have the patience for many of his longer novels so I stick to short ones. At only 170-something pages, this was a fast read.

The story starts out as an informal lunch interview at a small town called Haven off of the coast of Maine. The editor, Dave Bowie, and founder, Vince Teague, of a local newspaper are testing their new intern, Stephanie McCann, on her knowledge of Haven and investigative writing. The conversation is mostly about life in Haven and various strange things happening in and around the town throughout the years. Dave and Vince compare notes and reminisce on the most memorable moments in their careers. Then Stephanie asks about the strangest case they’ve ever come across, and both agree that’s the Colorado Kid case, an unsolved mystery that’s been long forgotten by the townsfolk.

Two kids found a body on the beach in 1980, and the case remains a mystery until today because every lead led to a dead end, and every time new evidence surfaced, it led to more questions instead of answers. The identity of the dead man was eventually discovered several years later which led to another investigation of his life and hometown, but that too led to more questions, not answers. The dead man was from Colorado and he was last seen there, but somehow he got to Maine in just a few hours and died on a remote beach of Haven. Why he ended up in Maine and who killed him is what makes this case even more confounding. None of the evidence found made much sense, and none of the things found on his body, like a strange coin, made much sense either. So the case stayed cold.

Dave, Vince, and Stephanie go over each piece of evidence and speculate as to what could have happened to the dead man and why he ended up in Haven. The rest of the story is about these three following every lead back to its dead end and putting the evidence together as best they can. Eventually this leads to nowhere, once again. Even with new technology and investigative methods, the case yields no new answers, only more questions, and so the Colorado Kid remains the town’s biggest mystery. No other townsfolk know as much of the story as Dave and Vince do, but now there’s Stephanie to carry on the tradition at the newspaper.

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* * * * some spoilers below * * * *

Although there are no supernatural forces at work, which is a strange departure from King’s usual thematic style, there are clues hinting that the “method” in which the Colorado Kid arrived in Maine might’ve been time travel. That certainly piqued my interest, and I was surprised to find myself enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would because I’d originally thought it boring due to a lack of supernatural elements in the story. What piqued my interest further was the how the Colorado kid died–asphyxiation, as a large piece of meat was found lodged in his throat. So then, who killed this guy? It seems rather random which only adds to the mountain of confounding evidence.

Overall, this cold case is an interesting one. There’s a modern-noir feel to the writing and investigation that’s very evidence-oriented. The three main characters try their hardest to put the pieces of the puzzle together in various different ways, but the pieces just don’t fit right. You feel the frustration as you read along; I tried to get to the conclusion before the story and initially thought there’d be an answer at the end. Nope, no such luck. Some mysteries will always remain mysteries; very characteristic of Stephen King to leave things that way. Even though the case remains unsolved, this open ending ties the whole story together quite nicely.

 

[1] The show actually is a whole other entity in and of itself, and has very few connections to the book. The only things they share is the setting and a few characters with similar names.

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