Do not judge a book by it’s cover goes the old saw and that old saying was probably coined somewhere around the time pulp fiction became popular. Such is the case for The Colorado Kid, Stephen King’s first standard mystery some would argue some of his horror novels are mysteries of sorts. The original cover for this love it or hate it novel featured a sultry looking miss in a black cocktail dress holding a tape recorder: there is no such babe in the book although main character Stephanie McCann, cub reporter at a small coastal town newspaper in Maine, is probably quite lovely.

You should also not judge a book by the blurb on the back. The Colorado Kid is summarized as being about the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics [turning] up any clues while in reality the novel is about the mystery novel as we know it. Stephen King has the two old newspapermen, Dave Bowie and Vince McTeague, give a final exam of sorts to Stephanie on her reporting, investigating, and journalistic instincts by walking her through the story they could never shake because it doesn’t meet the criteria of an article (or a mystery, as King well knows).

Because this mystery novel is what it is, and telling you what it is would be a spoiler, this book will most certainly irritate some and greatly satisfy others. As pulp detective fiction goes it most certainly is an odd duck amongst the usual Hard Case Crime offerings (even the jacket of the first novel under this imprint has something to do with the story Lawrence Block wrote) because it is not really pulp fiction at all.

The Colorado Kid is not even a standard Stephen King novel at that (184 pages is what King usually calls a chapter) because there is nothing that goes thump in the night although the body does thumps onto the sand once, just once. Still, like a vast majority of the master’s stuff this novel is a fun and highly enjoyable read. King once again proves, literally, he knows what he is doing and how good he is at it even if this is not pulp fiction at all.

The Colorado Kid
Stephen King
Hard Case Crime 2005
184 pages

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