The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

I’d been thinking about reading ‘The Colorado Kid’ by Stephen King for a long time, mostly because Haven is loosely based on this novella. Here’s your moment to ask “What’s been stopping you?” To answer your question, it was the plethora of negative reviews the book has received. Despite my ardor for all things Stephen King, I can admit he’s fallen flat a time or four*. What it boiled down to was that I didn’t want to add another book to the short but significant list of Stephen King books I’ve disliked. But luckily, I thought ‘The Colorado Kid’ was a decent read, though I can see what angered most readers. Sensitive readers beware: spoilers abound in the following review. Sort of.


People like answers. They like a distinct beginning, middle, and end – preferably with a pretty bow and a happily ever after. Life is rarely like that. Often we don’t get the answers we seek and are left wondering about whatever unanswerable question we are currently pondering (this is once we move past the school age tradition of “Do you like me? Check Yes or No”, which is a damn shame). Ambiguity is hard. Answers are satisfying. ‘The Colorado Kid’ is entirely the former and has not a single bit of the latter.

A man is found dead on a small Maine island. He has no identification and there is no sign of foul play. Who is he? Where did he come from? And what was he doing eating a late night steak on a cold beach? As the two local island reporters describe the case to their young intern, they reveal what little information is available in flashbacks.

‘The Colorado Kid’ is a novella published as part of the Hard Case Crime series. There is a beginning, a middle, and a death, but there is no resolution. The story simply ends. It’s a recounting of why the death was mysterious. No more, no less. It builds up the mystery only to…end. While it can seem frustrating, you can also take it for what it is – a hard case (haha) where the mystery is more fascinating than any possible resolution. It’s more interesting that the Colorado kid died on a cold Maine beach than how he got to the beach where he died. At least that’s what Stephen King wants you to believe. It’s up to you to make your own decision. Can you handle the unsolved mystery and just enjoy the ride? Or will you feel like you wasted your time when you learn nothing? You know how I feel. 3.5/5. If I have one problem with the book it’s the weird, misleading cover.

I would like to point out that for those of you who want a King novel with little gore, little cursing, and little scariness, this one may be for you – though it’s almost un-King-like. Could you handle learning about a man’s life and death for 178 pages only to realize you’ll never actually learn anything? And have you ever read a King novel you hated? Because I, for one, can’t get over that one scene in Gerald’s Game… If you’ve read it, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Lobster Roll; Ellie Krieger

On that note, I’m recommending a lobster roll to accompany ‘The Colorado Kid’. It’s a coastal Maine staple (along with fish and chips, both of which are served in this otherwise gastronomically slim novel).

*The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, Cell, Gerald’s Game. Feel free to add in the King novel that you feel is shit – people like to rag on Insomnia, Duma Key, Rose Madder, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (all of which I liked, incidentally).

16 thoughts on “The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

    1. It might be a while! But you are getting close to Needful Things, which I loved but everyone else hated. I’m reading his books randomly, I just found Blaze at a used book sale. So I think that’s next for me…


  1. I haven’t read this but I do sometimes enjoy a book that doesn’t have a clear cut ending. Have you read Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending? I know people were annoyed by its lack of a definitive conclusion or illumination on some of the questions but in some cases, a book’s strength lies in its fogginess.

    p.s. I’ve been catching up on Haven. It took me awhile to start to like it. There was something about that main actress that I didn’t like and it was stuck for awhile in “creature of the week” mode, but it has been more enjoyable in subsequent seasons.


    1. I did read The Sense of an Ending. I didn’t particularly like it, but more because I felt it was overrated and I didn’t think it should have one the Booker. It was a case where I felt Barnes was winning on the strength of his previous work, rather than the work in question. I was rooting for The Sisters Brothers (which I think you didn’t like?) or Half-Blood Blues.

      Haven. Haven, for me, is one of the “so bad it’s good” shows that I like. My favorite part is trying to catch the Stephen King references. It sometimes gets in a little over its head and struggles to wrap up story lines. I pretty much watch it for Nathan and Duke, Audrey’s secondary. I haven’t watched half of season three or any of season four yet. Someday…


      1. Yes, yes. It’s all about Duke and Nathan for me, too. At some point it picks up (maybe end of season 2 or season 3?). But I do love its Stephen King references.

        I had trouble getting into The Sisters Brothers but I’m not totally writing it off as never trying it again. I really wanted to like it and get into it but couldn’t finish it. In its defense, I also was on a roll of books I just couldn’t get into and finish. I might have been too annoyed. I can see that the hoopla behind a book’s nomination and winning can be annoying. It annoys me when a book is awarded when the entire author’s oeuvre is being considered instead of the one work (when it shouldn’t be). I read it some time after the Booker prize for that year, so perhaps my reading wasn’t influenced by it. With that said, there have been other Barnes books that I don’t like and haven’t finish (I’m thinking mostly of Flaubert’s Parrot).


      2. The Sisters Brothers works better as a whole, so there is some hope yet. I wasn’t as invested in it until I started (and finished) the second half. One of the reasons I love that particular novel is the sense of humor is close to my own. Incidentally, I think that was the last great class of Booker nominees. And Flaubert’s Parrot, the nicest thing I can say about it is it’s very…intellectual?!


  2. I haven’t read this one, but I’m a big fan of SK, especially his “eclectic” reads that aren’t as popular. I loooove the idea of not having a clear cut ending. And I like that SK defies his own boundaries and does unique, interesting things.

    Have you read Gerald’s Game? It freaked me out because it could totally happen!


    1. Gerald’s Game seriously disturbed me, not only because it could happen, but because of what she had to do to get free. I have a weak stomach when it comes to self-mutilation.

      I’m working my way through King’s bibliography. I’m maybe 40% through. My favorites include Bag of Bones, The Dark Half, and Needful Things in addition to his more classic, popular works (because who doesn’t love The Stand?!).


      1. Oooh, I do like that one. I’ve always been curious to read Rage, but it is not easy to get a copy of it. I think aside from Blaze, Roadwork is my next Bachman book.


    1. I applaud you initiative. Every time I go visit my family (coastal Maine/New Hampshire), we go out for lobster rolls. Fresh seafood is hands down the best part of visiting New England.


  3. I’ll probably never get around to this King… not because it sounds bad, just not necessarily interesting? And knowing ahead of time that there are no answers, well… it seems like a “Why bother?” kind of thing.

    I promise that if I’m ever in Maine, I’ll try a lobster roll. Sounds weird. (Also, I’ve only had lobster once, not sure if I like it or not.)


  4. I liked Gerald’s Game well enough but that scene … shudders … It took me days to read. Tommyknockers put me off reading King in English for years because I thought it was me being too bad at English to like it (it was the first King I tried to read in English) – it wasn’t. It was just bad. I watched Dreamcatcher – and that didn’t make me want to read the book at all…


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