Why Stephen King’s Later Can Resolve A Major Issue With His Non-Horror Books

Stephen King will officially release his 62nd full-length novel in March 2021 titled Later, that may feature a plot which could resolve a major issue in his non-horror books. It will be published through Hard Case Crimes, the home of Joyland and The Colorado Kid. They primarily distribute pulp novels as well as detective mysteries, which is not exactly King’s strong suit. Later‘s plot synopsis revealed that it may include several major elements familiar to his works of horror, but with a twist.

For approximately 50 years, King has been recognized for being one of the most influential horror novelists of the late 20th and 21st century. His first novel, Carrie, was published in 1974 and immediately grabbed the attention of director Brian De Palma, who would go on to adapt it into a feature-length movie in 1976. The titular character Carrie White is based on two women King knew in his youth, setting the stage for the personal aspects that he would weave into nearly every novel he went on to write. It was followed by ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Rage, and The Stand. King published almost every year, sometimes twice a year under his pen name Richard Bachman. While King primarily wrote horror books, he delved into a few other genres with his later works.


In 2005, King contributed to the Hard Case Crimes company with the novel The Colorado Kid about an investigation of an unidentifiable man. While many fans were drawn to it, the story was ultimately underwhelming, which was mostly accredited to detective mysteries being somewhat outside of his wheelhouse. Joyland received a bit more success than its predecessor, showcasing that the author was growing more comfortable with this specific genre. King’s detective mysteries are largely divisive due to failing in ways where his horror novels succeed. With Later’s release on the horizon, the book’s summary alludes to the inclusion of horror elements as well as some familiar themes of his greatest works in the genre, which could mean he’s going to address and solve these early problems.

According to the plot summary, Later follows Jamie Conklin, the son of a single mother. After he discovers that he has supernatural powers, he is instructed to keep them a well-hidden secret. In a bizarre turn of events, his ability to see things that the average person cannot leads him to become one of the only people who could solve the case of a killer who may have supernatural powers of his own. Later has three major components familiar to a classic King story: a young boy coming of age under bizarre circumstances, the supernatural, and a killer.

Jamie Conklin could solve the case and save the day, similar to Bill Denbrough of It. Despite the brief nature of the plot summary, it cements that King will return to making a kid the main character of Later as well as the only person courageous and capable enough to save lives. Considering the author’s literary universe, it’s entirely plausible that Jamie could have “the shining” like Danny Torrance of The Shining and Doctor Sleep. It isn’t common for King to make an entirely new power for his characters; the description of Later states that he can see what others cannot. In terms of killers, they are traditionally someone close to the main character, monstrous, vehicular, or an animal. It is possible that this story’s killer has supernatural powers as well, as he threatens to take lives despite not being of the living realm.

Unlike his other Hard Case Crimes novels, Later appears to include equal parts horror and detective mystery, which could greatly improve the author’s ability to appeal to both audiences. With the prospect that it could even tie into King’s larger literary universe with familiar supernatural capabilities, it opens up an entirely new door of possibilities for the author to explore the mystery genre with works outside of Hard Case Crimes. While The Colorado Kid and Joyland were largely overwhelming detective mysteries, Later promises an entirely new type of story, one crafted with Stephen King‘s talent in all things horrific in mind.

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Mara Bachman (568 Articles Published)

Mara Bachman works as a Horror Movie Features Writer for Valnet, Inc at ScreenRant.

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