Casual fans of Stephen King might have missed this book. It came out in 2005 as a little paperback published by Hard Case Crime – a small publisher of pulp mystery novels. I didn’t know it existed until recently.
This is a tiny little story. The entire tale unfolds as a single conversation taking place between three people. When it finally gets there, the main plot is about an unidentified body – The Colorado Kid – found on a tiny island off the coast of Maine. That’s it. There is nothing else to it.
King seems to have designed this book to piss people off. Right from the start, the characters make it clear that this is not a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Rather, it’s about stories themselves, and the nature of mystery. There is no ending, no resolution, no story, no nothing. Still, I enjoyed every page. As a scientist-type dabbling in mystery myself, I totally get what King is doing here. He’s written a novel-length essay on how it may be mystery itself, and not its resolution, that keeps us going. And he’s done so with charming characters and a story that keeps you reading even though you are assured it will not go anywhere.
Perhaps he’s also responding a bit to criticisms of his other novels; as we saw with The Dark Tower series, endings aren’t really his thing.
Being pissed off isn’t always a bad thing, and I think this is proof of that. I recommend reading this infuriating book at your earliest convenience.