REVIEW: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

Series: N/A; part of the Hard Case Crime releases

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: atmospheric mystery, non-traditional whodunnit, philosophical mystery, meta moments, US mystery, quaint mystery, procedural

Quick Review: A meditation on the nature of mystery and stories, wrapped in a vintage noir feel. A must read for all mystery lovers.


On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There’s no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it’s more than a year before the man is identified.

And that’s just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still…?

THE COLORADO KID is a novel written by Stephen King specifically for the Hard Case Crime series, which goes beyond a traditional whodunnit to become a meditation on mystery and the nature of stories.

The Hard Case Crime series of books includes issues and re-issues of lost, unpublished and forgotten crime novels, usually with a vintage noir flair. We’ve reviewed a few of them, if you want to check out the flavour of books in this series, including SOHO SINS, FOREVER AND A DEATH, and CHARLESGATE CONFIDENTIAL, all of which have been excellent crime novels. This novel takes a bit of a different route than the hard-boiled detective that tends to be present in this type of story, although it ultimately fits right in with the rest of the series.

Part of the fit with other Hard Case novels comes from the plot, which would be right at home in the best of noir 40s black and white movies: an unknown man who dies on a beach on an island in Maine, with nothing to identify him and no clues as to how he got there. However, this is not a simple whodunnit; it’s more of a meditation on the nature and necessity of mystery. If you are expecting an action-packed, gun-waving detective novel, this is not it, and it’s all the better for it. It’s a story about a mystery, and the facts that make it a mystery.

The setting and storytelling also contribute to the noir feel. King knows how to make a story completely absorbing, and this is no exception. The atmosphere will drag you in and keep you there until you finish the novel. It’s also so quaint in places, and has such a vintage feel, that you will have to keep reminding yourself that the main story is actually set in 2005!

THE COLORADO KID is far from a traditional mystery, but this little meditation is absolutely something that should be read by all crime and mystery fans. Stephen King is a master, and this is one of his most finely-wrought works. Definitely pick this one up and prepare not to put it down until you have finished it!

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