by Stephen King
In Flint City, Oklahoma, police detective Ralph Anderson arrests the popular English teacher and Little League coach, Terry Maitland, in front of a crowd of baseball spectators. Maitland is charged with the rape and mutilation of Frankie Peterson, an eleven-year-old boy. Maitland hires his friend and lawyer, Howie Gold, to assist him. However, Detective Anderson has eyewitness accounts and forensic evidence which clearly pinpoints Maitland as the main, and only, suspect. In the meantime, eager reporters harass Maitland's wife, Marcy and their two daughters, Sarah and Grace.
The district attorney, Bill Samuels, urges Anderson to break Maitland's alibi in order to make this an open-and-shut case. Anderson discovers that multiple eyewitness accounts confirm Maitland was out of town, at a writer's conference in a neighboring town, when the murder was committed. Security footage from the conference also provides confirmation of Maitland's alibi. Anderson actually finds a book at the conference center gift shop that Maitland (or his doppelgänger) picked up and the fingerprints left on the book are confirmed to be Maitland's. Samuels encourages Anderson to destroy this new evidence, but Anderson doesn't. Despite evidence that shows that Maitland was in two places at once, Anderson still believes that Maitland killed the young boy. Maitland, who has been awaiting trial in jail is brought to the courthouse, where he is shot to death. Overcome with grief, the older brother of the victim, Ollie Peterson, shot Maitland. Ollie is subsequently shot and killed by Detective Anderson. Anderson is then placed on administrative leave, and the district attorney decides not to seek re-election. With the help of the private investigator, Holly Gibney, Marcy Maitland and Howie Gold follow a trail of clues to Marysville, Texas. Detective Anderson, following the group, also heads to Texas. Jack Hoskins, Anderson's rival in local law enforcement, is coerced by the "Outsider" (i.e. the real killer) into killing Detective Anderson. The Outsider promises Hoskins that if he kills Anderson, he will be cured of his cancer. With the help of a number of characters, including police officers and a potential victim of the Outsider, both Anderson and Gibney discover that they have an actual monster on their hands. They set out to destroy the Outsider in a large cave in Marysville, where two children had died years earlier. Holly is able to hit the Outsider with a "happy slapper" (a sock filled with ball bearings, similar to the weapon that she used to stop Brady Hartsfield in King's novel, Mr. Mercedes). The Outsider appears to have been destroyed. Later, Samuels holds a press conference clearing Maitland, alleging defective DNA samples and confirming the conference center video proof supporting Maitland's alibi.