The Colorado Kid

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The Colorado Kid
Coloradokid pb.jpg
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Glen Orbik
Country United States
Language English
Genre Mystery, Crime novel
Publisher Hard Case Crime
Publication date
October 4, 2005
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 184
ISBN 978-0-8439-5584-2

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-person 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 loosely inspired by The Colorado Kid, titled Haven, aired on Syfy from July 2010 to December 2015. Stephen King's next novel for Hard Case Crime was Joyland, which was published in June 2013.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

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".[2] 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 (over 2000 miles/3000 km away).

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."[3] 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 Ohio University graduate on summer internship at the Islander. Her duties on the paper involve writing "mostly ads" [4] 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 (James Cogan) – unidentified body found in 1980 on Hammock Beach, wearing gray slacks, and a white shirt. With little but a wad of meat lodged in his throat, 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.

King's comments about a clue[edit]

King 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: "The review of The Colorado Kid in today’s issue of today's USA Today[5] 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."[6]


The Colorado Kid was originally published in 2005 as a paperback original by Hard Case Crime. In 2007, PS Publishing published the novel as a hardcover limited edition in four different states illustrated by three different artists (Edward Miller, J.K. Potter, and Glenn Chadbourne).[7]

Television adaptation[edit]

In 2009, Universal Networks International announced the TV series Haven, loosely based on the setting of the novel.[8] The series, which had an initial 13-episode commitment, was developed by E1 Entertainment and Piller/Segan/Shepherd, producers of the Dead Zone TV series.[9] Scott Shepherd served as showrunner, with Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller executive producing, together with the writers of the series pilot, Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn.[10][11] The series debuted on Syfy on July 9, 2010.[12] The show ran for five seasons until December 17, 2015.


  1. ^ "Joyland - Coming June 4th 2013". 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  2. ^ King (2005). The Colorado Kid. p. 33. 
  3. ^ King (2005). The Colorado Kid. p. 175. 
  4. ^ King (2005). The Colorado Kid. p. 28. 
  5. ^ Memmott, Carol (2005-10-05). "King's Colorado Kid: You Decide". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-05-28. 
  6. ^ "Continuity Clarification from Stephen - October 7, 2005". Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  7. ^ "PS Publishing's Colorado Kid page". Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  8. ^ "TV: Universal Gets Involved in Stephen King's 'Haven'". Bloody-Disgusting. 
  9. ^ "Stephen King's Haven Finds Funding". DreadCentral. 
  10. ^ "TV: Syfy Scores Stephen King's 'The Colorado Kid' Adaptation". Bloody-Disgusting. 
  11. ^ Jericho hottie to star in Syfy's Haven
  12. ^ "Stephen King’s Colorado Kid Heads to Haven". DreadCentral. 

External links[edit]