The Colorado Kid, by Stephen King

Eight stars

Turning to another short piece by Stephen King, I found this piece calling out to me. As King can vary greatly in his writing, I was not entirely sure what to expect, but found this mystery pulled me in while remaining as laid-back as a Maine summer’s day. Stephanie McCann is a journalism intern in a small Maine community, working alongside the town’s two newspaper reporters, Vince Teague and Dave Bowie. While Stephanie is looking to learn the nuances of small-town reporting, she is also looking for a story to call her own. Teague and Bowie cannot offer much, though there is that incident down at the church picnic that left some dead. Teague and Bowie seek to teach their muse something about reporting that includes building a story on a truth and then filling the cracks with supposition. However, there is one unsolved case that seeks a story, even if there is no concrete truth to serve as foundation. Back in 1980 or so, two high school kids found a body on the beach, a hunk of meat lodged in the throat. Further investigation showed that this was no local—as if the lack of anyone knowing him was not enough—and James Cogan was eventually identified as the victim. However, no one could tell how or why he ended up on the East Coast, hailing from Colorado. Cogan’s wife could not explain it, though she knew something odd was going on a while back. As Stephanie seeks to posit her own theory, she is kept on track by the two old journalists, who fill in the cracks she finds in the story, to a degree. Who was James Cogan and what was this Colorado businessman doing in Maine, especially dead. King leaves the reader wondering as they seek to piece things together in this novella. Brilliant in its delivery and perfect for those who want a few hours to get the brain juices flowing. Recommended to novella fans, especially those who enjoy reading King’s less violent pieces.

Stephen King knows how to write a captivating story, inserting twists few would likely predict. This novella had all the impact of a well-crafted piece, mixing mystery and narrative backstory in equal measure. King uses three loose protagonists in the piece—the journalists—who push the narrative along, with James Cogan acting as a decent, but distant, central figure. His presence in Maine remains a mystery, though the clues that come up during the discussion leave everyone trying to find an answer to this mystery. King develops some decent characters, with little known about this, though that might have been the point. The story was grounded and kept me wanting to learn a little more, though there were numerous threats left dangling. With short chapters and decent momentum, King fans may enjoy this one, full of tangential commentary on the smallest of details. While this was only a filler piece, I have always loved the full-length King novels, one of which awaits me in the near future. A great short piece without the gore or intense chills that some might find in King’s cornerstone pieces.

Kudos, Mr. King, for a nice novella that helped pass the time as my busy weekend progresses.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: