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The outsider : a novel
2018
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Stanhope: Oh, yes. Detective Anderson: Thank you, Mrs. Stanhope. Stanhope: Who could believe Terry would do such a thing? Do you suppose there have been others? Detective Anderson: We may find that out in the course of our investigation. Since all City League tournament games were played at Estelle Barga Field--the best baseball field in the county, and the only one with lights for night games--home team advantage was decided by a coin toss. Terry Maitland called tails before the game, as he always did--it was a superstition handed down from his own City League coach, back in the day--and tails it was. "I don't care where we're playing, I just like to get my lasties," he always told his boys. And tonight he needed them. It was the bottom of the ninth, the Bears were up in this league semifinal by a single run. The Golden Dragons were down to their last out, but they had the bases loaded. A walk, a wild pitch, an error, or an infield single would tie it, a ball hit into the gap would win it. The crowd was clapping, stamping the metal bleachers, and cheering as little Trevor Michaels stepped into the lefthand batter's box. His batting helmet was the smallest one they had, but it still shaded his eyes and he had to keep pushing it up. He twitched his bat nervously back and forth. Terry had considered pinch-hitting for the boy, but at just an inch over five feet, he drew a lot of walks. And while he was no home run hitter, he was sometimes able to put the bat on the ball. Not often, but sometimes. If Terry lifted him for a pinch hitter, the poor kid would have to live with the humiliation through the whole next year of middle school. If, on the other hand, he managed a single, he would recall it over beers and backyard barbecues for the rest of his life. Terry knew. He'd been there himself, once upon a time, in the antique era before the game was played with aluminum bats. The Bears pitcher--their closer, a real fireballer--wound up and threw one right down the heart of the plate. Trevor watched it go by with an expression of dismay. The umpire called strike one. The crowd groaned. Gavin Frick, Terry's assistant coach, paced up and down in front of the boys on the bench, the scorebook rolled up in one hand (how many times had Terry asked him not to do that?), and his XXL Golden Dragons tee-shirt straining over his belly, which was XXXL at least. "I hope letting Trevor bat for himself wasn't a mistake, Ter," he said. Sweat was trickling down his cheeks. "He looks scared to death, and I don't b'lieve he could hit that kid's speedball with a tennis racket." "Let's see what happens," Terry said. "I've got a good feeling about this." He didn't, not really. The Bears pitcher wound up and released another burner, but this one landed in the dirt in front of home plate. The crowd rose to its feet as Baibir Patel, the Dragons' tying run at third, jinked a few steps down the line. They settled back with a groan as the ball bounced into the catcher's mitt. The Bears catcher turned to third, and Terry could read his expression, even through the mask: Justtry it, homeboy. Baibir didn't. The next pitch was wide, but Trevor flailed at it, anyway. "Strike him out, Fritz!" a leather-lung shouted from high up in the bleachers--almost surely the fireballer's father, from the way the kid snapped his head in that direction. "Strike him owwwwwt !" Trevor didn't offer at the next pitch, which was close--too close to take, really, but the ump called it a ball, and it was the Bears' fans' turn to groan. Someone suggested that the ump needed stronger glasses. Another fan mentioned something about a seeing-eye dog. Two and two now, and Terry had a strong sense that the Dragons' season hung on the next pitch. Either they would play the Panthers for the City championship, and go on to compete in the States--games that were actually televised--or they would go home and meet just one more time, at the barbecue in the Maitland backyard that traditionally marked the end of the season. He turned to look at Marcy and the girls, sitting where they always did, in lawn chairs behind the home plate screen. His daughters were flanking his wife like pretty bookends. All three waved crossed fingers at him. Terry gave them a wink and a smile and two thumbs up, although he still didn't feel right. It wasn't just the game. He hadn't felt right for some time now. Not quite. Marcy's return smile faltered into a puzzled frown. She was looking to her left, and jerked a thumb that way. Terry turned and saw two city cops walking in lockstep down the third base line, past Barry Houlihan, who was coaching there. "Time, time!" the home plate umpire bellowed, stopping the Bears pitcher just as he went into his wind-up. Trevor Michaels stepped out of the batter's box, and with an expression of relief, Terry thought. The crowd had grown quiet, looking at the two cops. One of them was reaching behind his back. The other had his hand on the butt of his holstered service weapon. "Off the field!" the ump was shouting. "Off the field!" Troy Ramage and Tom Yates ignored him. They walked into the Dragons' dugout--a makeshift affair containing a long bench, three baskets of equipment, and a bucket of dirty practice balls--and directly to where Terry was standing. From the back of his belt, Ramage produced a pair of handcuffs. The crowd saw them, and raised a murmur that was two parts confusion and one part excitement: Ooooo. "Hey, you guys!" Gavin said, hustling up (and almost tripping over Richie Gallant's discarded first baseman's mitt). "We've got a game to finish here!" Yates pushed him back, shaking his head. The crowd was dead silent now. The Bears had abandoned their tense defensive postures and were just watching, their gloves dangling. The catcher trotted out to his pitcher, and they stood together halfway between the mound and home plate. Terry knew the one holding the cuffs a little; he and his brother sometimes came to watch the Pop Warner games in the fall. "Troy? What is this? What's the deal?" Ramage saw nothing on the man's face except what looked like honest bewilderment, but he had been a cop since the nineties, and knew that the really bad ones had that Who, me? look down to a science. And this guy was as bad as they came. Remembering Anderson's instructions (and not minding a bit), he raised his voice so he could be heard by the entire crowd, which the next day's paper would announce as 1,588. "Terence Maitland, I am arresting you for the murder of Frank Peterson." Another Ooooo from the bleachers, this one louder, the sound of a rising wind. Terry frowned at Ramage. He understood the words, they were simple English words forming a simple declarative sentence, he knew who Frankie Peterson was and what had happened to him, but the meaning of the words eluded him. All he could say was "What? Are you kidding?" and that was when the sports photographer from the Flint City Call snapped his picture, the one that appeared on the front page the next day. His mouth was open, his eyes were wide, his hair was sticking out around the edges of his Golden Dragons cap. In that photo he looked both enfeebled and guilty. " What did you say?" "Hold out your wrists, please." Terry looked at Marcy and his daughters, still sitting in their chairs behind the chickenwire, staring at him with identical expressions of frozen surprise. Horror would come later. Baibir Patel left third base and started to walk toward the dugout, taking off his batting helmet to show the sweaty mat of his black hair, and Terry saw the kid was starting to cry. "Get back there!" Gavin shouted at him. "Game's not over." But Baibir only stood in foul territory, staring at Terry and bawling. Terry stared back, positive ( almost positive) he was dreaming all this, and then Tom Yates grabbed him and yanked his arms out with enough force to make Terry stumble forward. Ramage snapped on the cuffs. Real ones, not the plastic strips, big and heavy, gleaming in the late sun. In that same rolling voice, he proclaimed: "You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions, but if you choose to speak, anything you say can be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?" "Troy?" Terry could hardly hear his own voice. He felt as if the wind had been punched out of him. "What in God's name is this?" Ramage took no notice. "Do you understand?" Marcy came to the chickenwire, hooked her fingers through it, and shook it. Behind her, Sarah and Grace were crying. Grace was on her knees beside Sarah's lawn chair; her own had fallen over and lay in the dirt. "What are you doing?" Marcy shouted. "What in God's name are you doing? And why are you doing it here ?" "Do you understand?" What Terry understood was that he had been handcuffed and was now being read his rights in front of almost sixteen hundred staring people, his wife and two young daughters among them. It was not a dream, and it was not simply an arrest. It was, for reasons he could not comprehend, a public shaming. Best to get it over as fast as possible, and get this thing straightened out. Although, even in his shock and bewilderment, he understood that his life would not be going back to normal for a long time. "I understand," he said, and then: "Coach Frick, get back." Gavin, who had been approaching the cops with his fists clenched and his fat face flushed a hectic red, lowered his arms and stepped back. He looked through the chickenwire at Marcy, raised his enormous shoulders, spread his pudgy hands. In the same rolling tones, like a town crier belting out the week's big news in a New England town square, Troy Ramage continued. Ralph Anderson could hear him from where he stood leaning against the unmarked unit. He was doing a good job, was Troy. It was ugly, and Ralph supposed he might be reprimanded for it, but he would not be reprimanded by Frankie Peterson's parents. No, not by them. "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you before any questioning, if you desire. Do you understand?" "Yes," Terry said. "I understand something else, too." He turned to the crowd. "I have no idea why I'm being arrested! Gavin Frick willfinish coaching the game!" And then, as an afterthought: "Baibir, get back to third, and remember to run in foul territory." There was a smatter of applause, but only a smatter. The leatherlung in the bleachers yelled again, "What'd you say he did?" And the crowd responding to the question, muttering the two words that would soon be all over the West Side and the rest of the city: Frank Peterson's name. Yates grabbed Terry by the arm and started hustling him toward the snack shack and the parking lot beyond. "You can preach to the multitudes later, Maitland. Right now you're going to jail. And guess what? We have the needle in this state, and we use it. But you're a teacher, right? You probably knew that." They hadn't gotten twenty steps from the makeshift dugout before Marcy Maitland caught up and grabbed Tom Yates's arm. "What in God's name do you think you're doing?" Yates shrugged her off, and when she tried to grasp her husband's arm, Troy Ramage pushed her away, gently but firmly. She stood where she was for a moment, dazed, then saw Ralph Anderson walking to meet his arresting officers. She knew him from Little League, when Derek Anderson had played for Terry's team, the Gerald's Fine Groceries Lions. Ralph hadn't been able to come to all the games, of course, but he came to as many as possible. Back then he'd still been in uniform; Terry had sent him a congratulatory email when he was promoted to detective. Now she ran toward him, fleet over the grass in her old tennis shoes, which she always wore to Terry's games, claiming there was good luck in them. "Ralph!" she called. "What's going on? This is a mistake!" "I'm afraid it isn't," Ralph said. This part he didn't like, because he liked Marcy. On the other hand, he had always liked Terry, as well--the man had probably changed Derek's life only a little, given the boy just a smatter of confidence-building, but when you were eleven years old, a little confidence was a big deal. And there was something else. Marcy might have known what her husband was, even if she didn't allow herself to know on a conscious level. The Maitlands had been married a long time, and horrors like the Peterson boy's murder simply did not come out of thin air. There was always a build-up to the act. "You need to go home, Marcy. Right away. You may want to leave the girls with a friend, because there will be police waiting for you." She only looked at him, uncomprehending. From behind them came the chink of an aluminum bat making good contact, although there were few cheers; those in attendance were still shocked, and more interested in what they'd just witnessed than the game before them. Which was sort of a shame. Trevor Michaels had just hit the ball harder than ever before in his life, harder even than when Coach T was throwing meatballs in practice. Unfortunately, it was a line drive straight to the Bears shortstop, who didn't even have to jump to make the catch. Game over. ¿ Excerpted from The Outsider by Stephen King All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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  New York Times Review

the first time I wrote a short story I ripped off Stephen King. His first collection, "Night Shift," came out in 1978. I didn't read it then; I was only 6. But I picked it up and devoured it at some point, reading and rereading until the cover wore thin and fell off. By the time I'd turned 12 I felt sure I wanted to be a writer - a horror writer - and "Night Shift" became my template. The second story in the collection, "Graveyard Shift," is about a guy who gets work at a textile mill in a small town in Maine. One night his boss commands a crew of men to help him clean out the basement of the mill, a place that hasn't been touched in decades. The men descend to discover that rats have turned the basement into their kingdom; the farther they travel into the bowels of this underworld, the bigger and weirder the rats become. Finally, they discover the mother of these mutations, a rat as big as a cow. Things don't go well. Cupid might as well have hit me with an arrow. I immediately set about plagiarizing the thing. In my version of the tale, called "Rat Patrol," a group of men work for a vicious boss in a furniture warehouse in Queens. The boss demands these men go into the long unused basement where they discover ... cockroaches. The roaches have grown large and predatory and in the deepest corner of the basement they discover, well, you get the idea. At some point my grandmother, cleaning our apartment, threw the story away. I felt furious with her then, but now I see she probably saved me from a lawsuit. Thanks, Jaja! I've got a few reasons for sharing this anecdote. The first is the purest: I want to tell you how much of my life has been spent reading Stephen King. The second is to acknowledge the nature of his influence on me. "Graveyard Shift" is a horror story about mutant rats, sure, but it's also about the power dynamics of the working class; the men in the story can't say no to their tyrannical boss, not if they want to keep collecting a paycheck. King's work often underscored such political realities in ways that mattered to me. They reminded me of the struggles of my mother, a secretary working like a dog in New York City. And the last reason for my anecdote is that I want to talk about the difference between inspiration and appropriation. King's new novel, "The Outsider," starts out as a crime story. Ralph Anderson, a detective in Flint City, Okla., orders the arrest of a popular local English teacher and Little League coach, Terry Maitland, at a baseball game packed with cheering families. Anderson directs the officers to handcuff Maitland in front, instead of behind his back - and when an officer protests that's against protocol, Anderson is adamant: "I know, and I don't care. I want everyone to see him led away in handcuffs. Got it?" Anderson has clear evidence that Maitland raped and mutilated a child. The crime is awful but the proximity - the sense of trust that Maitland enjoyed - is what truly horrifies the detective. So the officers arrest the coach in front of everyone, announcing the charges loudly. As he's led away, Maitland insists, just as loudly, that he's innocent. It seems for a while that this will be a story about a crime and its prosecution, but that's not where this book is headed. I refer back to that story from King's first collection. A rough but regular day - cleaning out a basement - eventually transforms into a battle with monsters. I don't want to spoil anything, but come on, this is Stephen King. Monsters of one kind or another are what the man does best, and "The Outsider" delivers a good one. The novel begins in Oklahoma, but eventually winds its way to Marysville, Tex. The trip south allows King to show his hand and reveal exactly whose crate of myths he's been digging into. King makes generous use of a tale from the region, and the larger cultural context of the place as well. Along with the creature we get riffs on las luchadoras movies from Mexico and a parade called the processo dos Passos that offers vital insight on the Maitland case. The cultures of the Southwest, both Mexico and Texas, play a vital part, but it's Anderson and a character named Holly Gibney - a private investigator readers may remember from "Mr. Mercedes" - whom King follows most closely. They are, crucially, not Texans. In a nice play on the title, they are outsiders who must ask questions and learn alongside the reader. King doesn't presume to be an insider, either. There is a cop of Mexican descent, Yune Sablo, and an Anglo woman who grew up in the area, Lovie Ann Bolton, but neither is the protagonist; King doesn't inhabit them as he does Anderson and Gibney. He doesn't imply that he knows them with the same authority, yet he writes them as vital members of his cast. This strikes me as a fine definition of the difference between appropriation and inspiration: presumption versus humility. When writers appropriate the stories of others they do something like what I did when I was 12. It was imitation without insight. King falls on the right side of the divide and his book succeeds, in part, because of it. He's clearly inspired by the Southwest, but he's not fool enough to pretend ownership. Midway through the novel two characters discuss the films of Stanley Kubrick. One says, "Young artists are much more likely to be risk takers, in my opinion." It's played for a laugh - the character prefers "Paths of Glory" to, say, "The Shining" - but it is worth taking the essence of the statement seriously. King is an industry and has been for my entire reading life. He could easily churn out "monsters in Maine" tales until his life ends, and he'd remain well compensated for it. But he doesn't do that. He isn't writing mere imitations of himself. More than 50 novels published, and he's still adding new influences to his work. I can think of a great many literary writers who are far lazier about their range of inspirations and interests. This expansiveness allows King to highlight the idea that whether we're talking about Mexico or Maine, Oklahoma or Texas, people the world over tell certain stories for reasons that feel much the same: to understand the mysteries of our universe, the improbable and inexplicable. As Holly Gibney muses at one point: "Anything is possible,' she said to the empty room. Anything at all. The world is full of strange nooks and crannies.' " Here's to mutant rats in the basement and Mexican myths; here's to the strange and to Stephen King. Still inspiring. I don't want to spoil anything, but come on, this is Stephen King. Monsters are what he does best. victor lavalle'S most recent novel is "The Changeling."

  Publishers Weekly Review

MWA Grand Master King wraps a wild weird tale inside a police procedural in this nicely executed extension of his Bill Hodges detective trilogy (begun with 2014's Mr. Mercedes). Det. Ralph Anderson of the Flint City, Okla., police force appears to have beloved youth baseball league coach Terry Maitland dead to rights when he publicly arrests him for the grisly murder of an 11-year-old boy, since the crime scene is covered with Terry's fingerprints and DNA. Only one problem: at the time of the murder Terry was attending a teachers' conference in a distant city, where he was caught clearly on videotape. The case's contradictory evidence compels Anderson and officials associated with it to team up with Holly Gibney (the deceased Hodges's former assistant) to solve it. What begins as a manhunt for an unlikely doppelgänger takes an uncanny turn into the supernatural. King's skillful use of criminal forensics helps to ground his tale in a believable clinical reality where the horrors stand out in sharp relief. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.<br> <br> An eleven-year-old boy's violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City's most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.<br> <br> As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King's propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.
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