Stephen King is one of our greatest American storytellers. After so many years and so many great tales, his basic concept for THE OUTSIDER is brilliant in its simplicity.
What if you were somewhere around friends and co-workers, but there was overwhelming DNA and video evidence of you committing a heinous crime at the same exact moment?
That's the dilemma facing Terry Maitland (a terrific Jason Bateman) a well loved baseball coach and family man who appears to have brutally murdered one of his players.
The cast is all fantastic.
Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) is superb as local detective Ralph Anderson. He knows Terry. Having seen the young boy's body, he's overwhelmed with fury at his friend, but also has a creeping feeling that Maitland didn't do it.
Mare Winningham (St Elmo's Fire) is Ralph's wife, who befriends Maitland's widow Glory (Julianne Nicholson of "I, Tonya").
Nearly stealing the film is Cynthia Erivo (Harriett, Widows) as PI Holly Gibney, whose psychic gifts are a powerful tool in chasing a very elusive killer.
Over its expansive 10 hour running time, writers Stephen KIng and Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) carefully craft a complicated, suspenseful mystery that never fails to keep you engaged.
Richard Price created "The Wire" for HBO and brings the same gritty realism to every episode here.
Loyal King readers (I would definitely qualify) had a faction that complained about the way Gibney's character was changed from the novel for the limited series. I think Erivo is so great in the role that any criticism just bounces off her portrayal. It's not an easy role and you cant take your eyes off her.
Mendelsohn becomes the core of the story, immersed into a case that goes from cut & dry to the outer limits of his understanding.
My only complaint with the novel when I read it was that the final 50 pages seemed like a let down after the terrific story that precedes them. No such disappointment here. The format allows King and Lehane to tweak that ending enough to become the climax it deserves.
At times in the series, you'll find yourself questioning what you would do if you were Terry Maitland, arrested in public in front of all your friends for a brutal murder.
Then you'll imagine yourself in the position of his widow Glory, Ralph, Holly and even at times, some of the victims, whose suffering lasts much longer than their initial encounter with evil.
Hypnotic from start to finish, THE OUTSIDER gets an A from this decades long King fan.
Between the excellent film adaptions of "Doctor Sleep" and this novel, its been a great year for King and his constant readers.
Fear has many faces indeed.