Order for £15.29 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030; Hodder & Stoughton £16.99
The Outsiders, By Gerald Seymour
In this newspaper, the novelist Gerald Seymour was asked which fictional character he thought he most resembled. His answer: "One of those johnnies who sent agents off in the early Le Carré stories but stays on the safe side of the border".
But if Seymour's own vocation as a writer is risk-free, it might be argued he has bought the right to a more sedate lifestyle after his years as a reporter covering events in Borneo, Vietnam, Israel and Northern Ireland.
All this gave him material for his thriller-writing career. There is another resonance to Seymour's remark: those he sends off into dangerous territory are, in fact, his readers. With each book, we enter a dangerous universe, and are totally involved with utterly plausible characters, faced with moral choices that are rarely straightforward.
The Outsiders is something of a "greatest hits" compendium for Seymour. Elements from such novels as Killing Ground, The Collaborator and his debut Harry's Game are all stirred into the brew. But there is one new element that renders the book galvanic, even if this is not quite top-drawer Seymour.
Winnie Monks, known as "the Boss", is in charge of the Organised Crime Group. When one of the team is kicked to death and his hand severed, Winnie vows she will bring his killer to justice. Years pass, and government cuts reduce her team. But she learns that the killer is "the Major", a Russian gangster en route to Marbella.
In this fleshpot, Winnie mounts an operation to bring about his destruction. But things go wrong because of a feckless young Englishman, house-sitting next door to Winnie's quarry.
The single most important element here is the obsessive Winnie, whose pursuit of revenge for her dead agent is the motor for all that happens. Winnie is a forceful creation, with her burning resentment against those who feel contempt for the way the rest of us live. "They are so arrogant, those people," she mutters. "They think they're untouchable."
Arts & Ents blogs
There is a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refle...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
Further Space Oddity: Jeremy Paxman grills British astronaut Major Tim Peake in weirdly aggressive Newsnight interview
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
Cannes Film Festival 2013 review: Behind The Candelabra - Michael Douglas brilliantly captures Liberace's showmanship
The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 China agrees to impose carbon targets by 2016
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.