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The Colorado Kid

Updated on January 6, 2012

Who Killed the Colorado Kid?

This is what the headline of an old newspaper read in the premiere of the television show Haven. I started watching the show and am still enjoying it in its now second season. Then I happened upon the book The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. According to the show opening, Haven is based on this novel. So now I am intrigued, what is the story behind the series?

Now you can find out too!

Attention: Spoiler alert - this lens summarizes the novel in detail and may spoil your actual read of it!

The Who and Where of the story

The Colorado Kid was written by Stephen King in 2005 for Hard Case Crime series. The story takes place in Moose-Lookit Island in the state of Maine. A young journalist 'from away' (Stephanie McCann) who began an internship at The Weekly Islander learns the story of the Colorado Kid from the paper's long-time writers Dave and Vince. The book is pretty much a narrative of this unsolved mystery.

The crime

John Doe found dead on the beach

On 24th of April 1980 a body was found by two jogging teenagers. It sat on the beach, leaning up against a trash can.

There was no wallet or id on the body which appears to have choked to death on a piece of meat. Indeed, the medical examiner later ruled the cause of death as asphyxiation due to choking. Investigators collected from the scene some loose money, a book of matches with one match missing and a pack of cigarettes with one missing.

Fictional detectives

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The stamp on the cigarette pack

Evidence from the crime scene

Sargent Murray in the Evidence office is the one who coined the phrase Colorado Kid. He found a Colorado sticker on the bottom of the cigarette pack that had been with the body at the crime scene.

A cigarette tax stamp is an ink stamp or adhesive stamp that is on a cigarette pack to show proof of paying the cigarette tax. It differs from state to state. The state of Maine had ink stamps as their tax stamp but the cigarettes found on the body had an adhesive sticker stamp.

John Doe is identified

Unknown man given a name

The term John Doe refers to an unidentified male corpse. This nickname is widely used in the United States and Canada but not as often in other English speaking countries. It is a placeholder name used until the real identity can be found. An unidentified female would be called Jane Doe.

The Colorado Kid was first known as a John Doe. Later, when the cigarette stamp was discovered (which was much later since the case was deemed an accidental death and not studied further) he was given the name the Colorado Kid. And then, further investigation by the reporter Vince who passed out the picture of the dead man to the Colorado newspapers, determined that it was the body of James Cogan.

Did You Know?

In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand an unidentified male body is known as Joe Bloggs.

The mystery

Why was he in Maine? Did someone kill him?

The story of the Colorado Kid is Moose-Lookit Island's unsolved mystery. It is filled with "shadows you can't quite catch hold of". Questions that have no answers. This man who left Colorado for seemingly no reason, ended up having fish and chips in Maine only a few hours later and then was dead not long after that. The connections are tenuous, the reasons unknown and after 25 years, it is still unsolved.

It is the aspect of the unsolved mystery that works its way into the television series Haven.

Haven Trailer

The Book vs The TV Show

The Colorado Kid - Haven

At the end of the book Stephen King writes "I'm not really interested in the solution but in the mystery. Because it is the mystery that kept bringing me back to the story day after day."

Here, I feel, is the connection between the book and the show Haven.

In Haven, Audrey Parker finds herself investigating the death of a suspect she had been following. This investigation leads to the discovery of the 25 year-old mystery of the Colorado Kid and a possible link to Audrey's past. Audrey stays in Haven and discovers there are plenty more mysteries in Haven. In Stephen King fashion the troubles turn supernatural and the mysteries always have a twist.

Like to book, journalists Dave and Vince are there to help solve the cases, provide historic insight, and cover up the strange troubles with a 'normal explanation' newspaper story.

Interesting Tidbit

Stephen King comments that the story of The Colorado Kid was inspired by a newspaper clipping about an unsolved murder in Maine. Interestingly enough, the inspiration for me to read the book was from a newspaper clipping too!

Have you read the book or watched Haven - what do you think?

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      poutine 5 years ago

      Not yet, but might watch the show.