More like the deconstruction of a mystery than a mystery itself, The Colorado Kid comes out as King’s first novel since the end of that decade-spanning saga, “The Dark Tower.” Quite the departure from his typical speculative prose, The Colorado Kid provides a story within a story as listeners are introduced to the main characters, Vince, Dave, and Stephanie. The first two are old journalists for a small paper in a community off the coast of Maine. Stephanie was an intern-turned-employee as the two eccentric but insightful newsmen accepted her.
After a journalist for the Boston Globe comes around inquiring about unsolved mysteries in the area, Dave and Vince provide a back-and-forth tale of an intriguing unsolved murder that happened in their community but which they withhold from the journalist. In the course of their conversation, Dave and Vince explain the events surrounding the Colorado Kid, a man found dead in the early 1980s on the beach. Though the official cause of death is that the man choked on a piece of steak, the mystery’s loose ends forever make it a point of speculation between the two old men. In relaying all the details to Stephanie, they explore the way in which mysteries make the news and why they are ignored. They also become involved in a classic game of “whodunit”.
More a treatise on the nature of the mystery genre and a nod to the classic sit-down-and-reason-it-out mysteries of old, King spins a tale that in some ways deviates from his more popular writings. Yet this tale resembles and gravitates toward what is probably some of his more impressive writings, his non-speculative fictional writings such as The Body (made famous by the movie, Stand By Me) and Shawshank Redemption. His knack for believable dialogue and subtle but genuine pop culture cues still permeate and enhance this story. He makes his characters authentic.
Jeffrey DeMunn works hard to read Dave and Vince’s parts in a thick Maine accent with hints of age. He further strives to make the voices distinct so as not to confuse the listener. With his talents and extensive narrating experience, he voices these characters perfectly; it does not take much to picture the two sitting together at a table bickering like an old couple. Stephanie’s light voice contrasts fantastically with her mentors, and DeMunn also instills her voice with admiration, respect, and amusement as she relates all the information the two journalists provide.
King’s more mainstream ventures prove quite appealing and cinematically have been among his more popular productions. Without the gore and fantastical elements, King can still keep his fans entertained often with tales that prove much more compelling to the human condition. The Colorado Kid certainly meets these standards and has the ability reshape one’s understanding of the entire mystery genre. Of course, the talented narratation certainly adds to the overall enjoyment of this little novel.