The Colorado Kid

The Colorado Kid
The Colorado Kid  
Coloradokid pb.jpg
First edition cover
Author(s) Stephen King
Cover artist Glen Orbik
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Mystery, Crime novel
Publisher Hard Case Crime
Publication date October 4, 2005
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 184
ISBN 978-0843955842
Preceded by From a Buick 8
Followed by Cell

The Colorado Kid is a mystery novel written by Stephen King for the Hard Case Crime imprint, published in 2005. The book was issued in one paperback-only edition by the specialty crime and mystery publishing house. The third-person narrative concerns the investigation of the body of an unidentified man found on a tiny island off the coast of Maine. Lacking any identification or obvious clues, the case reaches nothing but repeated dead-ends. Over a year later the man is identified, but all further important questions remain unanswered. The two-man staff of the island newspaper maintain a longstanding fascination with the case, and twenty-five years later use the mysterious tale to ply the friendship and test the investigative mettle of a postgrad intern rookie reporter.

A television series inspired by The Colorado Kid, titled Haven, airs on Syfy in its Friday 10pm timeslot.


Plot summary

Opening in medias res as the news staff of The Weekly Islander pays for lunch at a restaurant, editor Dave Bowie and founder Vince Teague test young intern Stephanie McCann's powers of deduction regarding their tipping procedure. The friendly assessment becomes more intense as the elderly island natives and Stephanie return to the office, and she asks if the veteran reporters have "ever come across a real unexplained mystery".[1] Dave and Vince take turns recounting a strange incident and investigation, with intermittent breaks for our narrators to crack open a fresh soda.

On April 24, 1980, two teenagers stumbled across a body, early in the morning. Slumped against a trash can, and carrying no identification, the body bore no clear indicators of foul play. Cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation, as a large chunk of flesh was extracted from the victim's throat. Every potential clue leads to small revelations, but bigger mysteries. Though the investigation is lightly bungled, everything seems inexplicable, from how the fish-dinner stomach contents could line up with his ferry boat crossing, to the single Russian coin in his pocket.

More than a year later, thanks to a sharp-eyed rookie spotting an out-of-state cigarette tax stamp, the John Doe becomes known as The Colorado Kid. Eventually the man's identity is traced, and he is identified as James Cogan of Nederland, Colorado. Everyone involved with the case is at a loss as to how or why the man could have gotten to a beach on a Maine island in the five hours since he had last been seen alive in Colorado.

In the Weekly Islander offices, the three friends, old and new, ferret out all the answers they can from the facts of the 25-year-old investigation, then speculate on what might have happened, and meditate on the nature of true mysteries. Vince and Dave tell Stephanie that while they were "the last people alive who know the whole thing", having heard the tale of The Colorado Kid, "Now there's you, Steffi."[2] The warm proclamation seems to signal the young woman's final approval by the old guard of the Islander.


  • Dave Bowie - The 65-year-old managing editor of The Weekly Islander, the small-circulation newspaper servicing the island of Moose-Lookit, surrounding isles and some mainland communities.
  • Stephanie McCann - A 22-year-old University of Ohio postgrad, on summer internship at the Islander. Her duties on the paper involve writing "mostly ads" [3] and the Arts 'N Things column. Though struggling with the local dialect and sedate rhythms of island life, Stephanie is growing increasingly fond of the newspaper staff, and finding they have unique, important lessons in journalism in store for her.
  • Vince Teague - The 90-year-old founder of the Islander, who transformed the paper from the Weekly Shopper and Trading Post in 1948.
  • The Colorado Kid - unidentified body found in 1980 on Hammock Beach, wearing gray slacks, and a white shirt. With little but a wad of meat in his mouth, and a nearly full pack of cigarettes in his pocket, there seem to be no indicators to his identity, or how he arrived on Moose-Lookit.


The action occurring within the narrative space of The Colorado Kid is confined entirely to Moose-Lookit Island, as the Islander staff takes lunch at the Gray Gull restaurant, before returning to the newspaper office.

Vince and Dave share tales that span locales ranging from neighboring Smack Island to Denver, Colorado.


Unlike most of the hard-boiled detective novels that comprise and inspired the Hard Case Crime collection, The Colorado Kid offers little in the way of actual procedural detective-work, no sex, violence or action, possibly no crime, and no solution to its mystery. The story of the unsolved mystery is framed as an oral history given by Dave and Vince, and to this extent the novel is about the storytelling prowess and rhythms of these two yarn-spinners, even as genre expectations are denied and subverted.[4] Echoed in this story-within-a-story device is a lesson about the duties and talents of journalists, and by implication, all storytellers. Vince and Dave explain such concepts as needed for readers to feel teased by mystery, but not frustrated by utter ambiguity,[5] and the role of a storyteller in shaping the amorphous material of reality into a coherent narrative.[6]

The Dark Tower connection

While for the casual reader there may seem to be no explicit links to King's magnum opus Dark Tower novels, the author noted on his personal website on October 7, 2005 that an apparent research error regarding the rise of Seattle, Washington-based Starbucks Coffee may hold other implications. Wrote King: "The review of The Colorado Kid in today’s issue of today's USA Today[7] mentions that there was no Starbucks in Denver in 1980. Don’t assume that’s a mistake on my part. The constant readers of the Dark Tower series may realize that is not necessarily a continuity error, but a clue.”[8] This might also be a clue to the inclusion of a mention of Blockbuster in the story, which did not exist until 1985.

This was the second story to deal with the theme of an unanswerable question.


The Colorado Kid was originally published as a paperback original (or PBO) by Hard Case Crime.

In 2007 PS Publishing published the novel in hardcover limited editions, in four different states by three different artists (Edward Miller, J.K. Potter, and Glenn Chadbourne).[9]

Television adaptation

Universal Media Studios announced the TV series Haven, based on the story of the novel.[10] The series, which had an initial 13-episode commitment, is being developed by E1 Entertainment and Piller/Segan/Shepherd, producers of the Dead Zone TV series.[11] Scott Shepherd is serving as showrunner, with Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller executive producing, together with the writers of the series pilot, Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn.[12][13] The series debuted on Syfy on July 9, 2010.[14] It was renewed for a second season in 2011, starting on July 15, 2011. SyFy officially renewed Haven for a third season October 12, 2011. A date has not been set for when the new episodes will air.

An Australian connection

The Taman Shud Case, also known as the "Mystery of the Somerton Man", is an unsolved case revolving around an unidentified man found dead on the 1st of December, 1948, on Somerton Beach, a suburb of Adelaide, Australia. The Stephen King story alludes heavily to the aforementioned real-life case file, which remains unsolved to this day, and is one of many South Australian mysteries along with the Beaumont children disappearance.

See also

Book collection.jpg Novels portal


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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