Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Colorado Kid (Stephen King)

A confession: Although I’m a big fan of the American Movie Classics (AMC) Channel's Haven, I never read this novel on which it’s based. That is, until a few weeks ago, as the series was finally coming to a close.

The book's setting and characterizations are very different from the TV series. The Colorado Kid story, for example, is narrated by two crusty old small-town Tinnock Village, Maine, newspapermen — Vince Teague and Dave Bowie. In the TV series, Vince and Dave are journalist/publisher brothers.

Haven's principal protagonists — Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant), and Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour) — are absent in the book, as are the supernatural "troubles" that plague the town's residents. Colorado Kid lawman George Wuornos is Nathan's father in Haven.

Stephanie McCann works for The Weekly Islander, Vince's and Dave's newspaper. It's a typical small-town journal, whose page-one stories include such earth-shaking news as a car's parking brake failing and the car rolling into a fire hydrant, releasing a gusher.

Stephanie gets the two talking about unsolved mysteries, including one about the April 1980 discovery of an unidentified dead man, later dubbed the "Colorado kid." He'd been found slumped back against a litter basket at Hammock Beach on Moose-Lookit Island.

It's theorized he choked on a piece of meat, which in turn precipitated a stroke (or maybe it was the other way around). Thanks to some intuitive conclusions and accurate assumptions, he's identified a year and a half later as James Cogan.

But then questions arise: How'd he have coffee at a Starbucks, when the company didn't expand out of Seattle until the early 2000's? How'd he get from Denver, where he was last seen, to Jan's Wharfside Cafè in Maine where he was next seen just three-and-a-half hours later? What do a Russian 10-ruble coin and a pack of cigarettes have to do with anything? And then, even if he did arrange the frantic, theme-sensitive, to the second, and expensive transcontinental odyssey, why?

It's much more complicated than the questions indicate. As Stephanie notes, "It's like trying to ride a bike across a tightrope that isn't there."

Was he murdered? Ah now, that's the $64,000 question. But we'll never know, because it's Vince's and Dave's story (and now Stephanie's) and they're not going to give it to us to solve. Maybe that's why I felt a little incomplete and out of sorts when I put my iPad Air down.

Stephen King's novel is relatively inexpensive ($4.99) and available for immediate download from Amazon.com's Kindle Store. That sure beats the 38 bucks or so one has to shell out for a hardcover edition; and there's no delivery charge.

My Verdict: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Published by Hard Case Crime, 2005
ISBN 978-0-8439-5584-2

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