A young boy is brutally sexually assaulted and murdered in a small Oklahoma town, with an abundance of evidence pointing to one suspect. Terry Maitland is the Little League baseball coach, an English teacher and the apparent killer, given that his fingerprints and DNA are all over the crime scene. But a live feed from a local TV station shows he was miles away from the murder when it took place, and he claims to be innocent. So, how can one man be in two places at once?
The Outsider is an oddly structured Stephen King novel, starting out like his forays into crime fiction before taking a hard turn into being closer to classics like It and Salem's Lot. Ralph Anderson, the cop who arrests Maitland for the crime (in front of nearly the entire town at a baseball game), is faced with the contradictory evidence; even as the local district attorney wants to go to trial, Anderson tries to understand the inexplicable.
The Outsider is in many ways classic King, but it takes a bit of time for that to be revealed. Once the supernatural rears its head (which it does, in a terrifying fashion), fans will nestle into the author's trademark flair. It doesn't do much to change up what King does best (why fix what's not broken?), but he does seem interested in kicking at the edges of his box a bit and seeing how much he can warp the plot of a "Stephen King book." --Noah Cruickshank, adult engagement manager, the Field Museum, Chicago, Ill.