The Colorado Kid is a true diversion from King’s normal horror fare. A lifelong fan of the hardboiled mystery, Stephen King penned The Colorado Kid for the Hard Case Crime imprint after finally finishing his epic series, The Dark Tower, with an installment of the same name. The novel was only released in paperback and featured artwork reminiscent of the pulp fiction covers of the 50s and 60s.
King doesn’t try to reinvent the formula for the hardboiled mystery with his tale of an investigation surrounding the discovery of the body of an unidentified man in Maine, King’s fictional playground. This isn’t the first time that King has written a novel that surrounds the investigation of what is supposedly a murder. In Delores Claiborne, King told the story of a woman under investigation for her employer’s death. However, unlike Delores Claiborne, The Colorado Kid is a full-blown hardboiled mystery that might leave some fans (and for that matter, some avid mystery readers) cold.
As a master of the horror novel, King has bridged the genres of horror and drama well, sometimes even turning the mundane into the horrific. However, The Colorado Kid, devoid of either the elements of horror or, for that matter, true drama, doesn’t pack the same punch that so many of King’s horror novels deliver. Whether this is because King had to pack the story into a short format or simply because the novel was rushed is unclear.
Surrounding the tale of a rookie investigator and a year old investigation of an unidentified body, the tale doesn’t ever swerve from classic formula. At the same time, however, the audience is never truly introduced to enough evidence to truly care about the unidentified body or even the rookie investigator for that matter. What you get is a story that really doesn’t rise much above that of a stale episode of Cold Case.
King fans might still be interested in how King tackles a mystery without involving the supernatural or, at the very least, the dark corners of the human mind. It is, however, these missing elements that most likely sealed the novel’s fate as nothing more than a toss-away pulp novel that will probably quickly become a forgotten chapter in the works of Stephen King.
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