Order for £15.29 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030; Hodder & Stoughton £16.99
The Outsiders, By Gerald Seymour
Monday 27 August 2012
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 + entsThere were towering ideas, some scintillating performances and revelatory grooves... our writers pick out their personal highlights
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
peoplePrepare to be entranced by worms as the molecular biologist gets ready to give the Royal Institution science lectures
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial, the spirit lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Arts & Ents blogs
Heavy rain and years of 'benign neglect' may have caused Apollo Theatre roof collapse
Christmas TV guide 2013: Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all
The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness
- < Previous
- Next >