Horror-meister Stephen King fiddles with the pulp genre in The Colorado Kid for Hard Case Crime, which publishes new and classic hard-boiled crime fiction. The story unfolds over a long lunch as two grizzled reporters for a small-town Maine weekly tell their attractive 22-year-old intern about a Colorado man who died mysteriously in the town 25 years ago, apparently from choking. Two high-school sweethearts discovered the body on the beach with no identification—just a pack of cigarettes and a Russian coin. Was there more than meets the eye?
Hard Case Crime. 184 pages. $5.99. ISBN: 0843955848
"In an afterword, King writes that people will either love the ending or hate it. … Whether feeling cheated or angry, readers won’t be shortchanged. The characters and dialogue in Kid are wry and lively." Carol Memmott
Kansas City Star
"After his shaky start, King delivers a really gripping book. The story the two old journalists tell the young one sucks you in; just beware that the novel’s first 30 pages or so aren’t nearly as turnable as the last 150." John Mark Eberhart
Los Angeles Times
"The Colorado Kid cannot really be considered hard-boiled, or even a variant of crime fiction or detective fiction. It’s more like My Dinner with Andre." Adam Parfrey
"It’s hard to imagine crime-fiction devotees cottoning to this narratively spineless, sentimental yarn. In the end, with its canned laughter, virtuous and good-natured old gents, and pastel-colored language, it feels like nothing quite so much as a 1950s sitcom." John Koch
"King is right that many readers will feel cheated. I recall him once saying in an interview that he is to the fiction game what McDonald’s is to the restaurant business. This time, readers must ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’" Patrick Anderson
There’s nothing like a good noir crime novel, and The Colorado Kid is nothing like a good noir crime novel. King’s refusal to play by the time-honored rules of the genre exasperated critics, who might have been more forgiving had King delivered a compelling story. The plot, related by two crusty newspapermen entirely in conversation, develops at a glacial pace, and the characters’ exaggerated Yankee accents bog down the dialogue. Granted, the story’s endearing protagonists won over a few reviewers, but even the most generous critics were forced to concede the book’s many flaws.