The Colorado Kid is the 52nd book published by Stephen King; it was his 43rd novel, and the 37th under his own name.
The news staff of The Weekly Islander host Mr. Hanratty of the Boston Globe for lunch at the Grey Gull before Hanratty leaves for Boston. Islander editor Dave Bowie, founder Vince Teague, and intern Stephanie McCann return to their newspaper offices as well, where the young reporter asks if the veterans have "ever come across a real unexplained mystery." Dave and Vince take turns recounting a strange incident and investigation, with intermittent breaks for the narrators to crack open a fresh soda pop.
On 24 April 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 meat 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, "John Doe" becomes known as The Colorado Kid. Eventually the man's identity is discovered: he is James Cogan of Nederland, Colorado, everyone involved with the case is at a loss as to how the man could have gotten to a beach on a Maine island in the five hours since he had last been seen alive... or indeed, why.
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."
The warm proclamation signals the young woman's final approval by the old guard of the Islander.
The story is structurally similar to "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt" by Edgar Allan Poe. Both tales involve characters recounting the details of an unsolved death, then extrapolating theories of what may have happened based on the facts of each case. The mysteries of both stories remain unsolved even after the characters of the tales recount them.
The story has been loosely adapted into a television series, "Haven", which premiered on Syfy on 9 July 2010. A photograph of the "Colorado Kid" crime scene appeared in the second episode, linking the characters of the show with the events of the novel.