Looking at the cover, I don’t think the person who designed it actually read the book. The female character isn’t some sultry noir seductress. She’s a reporter, working for the local paper and learning about the town she’s in from Dave and Vince, two aging reporters who have taken her under their collective wings, to impart their knowledge on her.
After a meal with a reporter from a bigger paper, looking for unsolved mysteries, Dave and Vince explain that there is a mystery that’s never been solved, a mystery they did not mention to the other guy. They begin telling her the story, and so we learn of the figure known as the Colorado Kid.
The book apparently inspired the TV show Haven, though to be honest, I’m starting to think they used it just to give them something they could claim they were inspired by. The town in the book isn’t called Haven, and all I can see that they took from it are the journalists Vince and Dave (though they made them brothers rather than just partners in business). Even the Colorado Kid case is completely different. In the book, he’s a man in his forties with a wife and kid back home. In the show, he’s a teenager/young man who is murdered. And the novella doesn’t have any hint of troubles or anything unusual, except for the guy’s death. Yes, there are mysterious things that happen, but they read as just your run of the mill unknown events rather than anything further.
So, in part, I blame Haven for my disappointment in the novella. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t seen the show first, but then again, I don’t think I would have known the novella existed without the show.
The other problem I have with this is that there’s no satisfying end. King does mention in his notes, at the end, that he was more interested in the what happened rather than explaining it, which is fine, but there’s not even a hint towards what actually happened to the dead man. There’s nothing towards an explanation. If there had been stronger hints that it was an unusual town, some mention of the supernatural or paranormal or whatever, then maybe it would have worked. As it was, overall, it feels rushed.
It’s the only King book I’ve read, to date, that I didn’t really enjoy. It just doesn’t feel like it gels together. Give me Audrey, Duke and Nathan over this any day. I’d recommend, rather than reading it, actually reading Joyland or even watching Haven. At least in that we find out what really happened to the show’s own Colorado Kid.