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Michael Woods

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher :

Published : 2002

Copyright : Michael Woods 2002

ISBN-10 : PB 1-59113-217-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-59113-217-2

Publisher's Write-Up

Outrageous and disturbing... one of those books you'll remember for years to come.

Jade has had a bad life. In care aged seven; drug addict and prostitute aged twelve; the child beaten out of her at the age of fifteen. Then her life takes a turn for the worse.

She wakes up with her housemate dead in bed beside her and thinks she's to blame. Rather than wait for the police to accuse her of murder, Jade's solution is to frame a mug punter; her worst mistake yet because the man she targets is a brain-damaged Kosovo veteran intent on making snuff movies... with Jade in the starring role.

Outcast is a knife-edge mystery-thriller. Told with powerful authenticity this book rips open the closed world of underclass Britain with a masterful blend of fact and fiction.

Read Outcast and you'll never feel comfortable about Britain again – because Outcast is an outrage... a real bloodcurdler of a book.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (090703) Rating (7/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
The blurb on the back of this book says that it is "a real bloodcurdler of a book", I would not go that far, but it certainly has a chilling effect when read. Outcast tells the story of Jade, a heroin-addicted prostitute, who wakes one morning to find her housemate dead of a heroin overdose. Because Jade helped Linzy to shoot up, Jade worries that she will be blamed for her death. In her desperation she decides to blame a man, a punter that she has not met before. She picks this man because he has a nice car and she can then accuse him of being a drug dealer who sold the stuff to Linzy and that was what killed her, wasn't it?

Jade picks a man called Oliver, a veteran of the conflict in Kosovo who unbeknownst to her, is looking for a young woman to kill in a snuff movie. He comes to her house and handles the syringes that Jade gives him to make sure that his fingerprints are on the syringe that will kill the hapless Linzy.

From there, it all becomes a bit complicated, with corrupt policemen and people who are not what they seem to be. Jade tries desperately to stick to her story, but it comes to the point where she is in too deep and cannot recant. Her only hope lies in Detective Inspector Bob Harrison, a Bradford policeman who has helped Jade in the past. The relationship between Jade and Harrison is a strange one, explained by the circumstances of their first meeting, when he saw her brutalized body after an attack which caused her to loose her baby.

Jade is not a particularly sympathetic character, selfish in a way that only junkies are, she feels that she has no responsibility for the dangers that she exposes herself to, blaming her plight on others, instead of looking for a way to better her circumstances. She does, however, have a certain low cunning and with it, a certain charm.

Jade as a character causes much of the development of the story. The dramatic storyline progresses with pace and flair, although the Bradford-accented patois takes a little getting used to in her chapters; it works well when juxtaposed against the rather more educated tones, of, say, Detective Constable Miranda Wollerthwaite, one of Harrison's investigating team.

Michael Woods has, in Outcast, taken on a difficult, complicated plot and pulled it off effectively. It is firmly in the genre of the more harsh thrillers, like some of Val McDermid's or Karin Slaughter's novels. No punches are pulled when considering the human condition, and the story is all the more riveting for it. There we are, riveting instead of bloodcurdling…

I think Outcast is Michael Woods' debut novel, and if so, then his future will be interesting to watch, although, given that this was printed in America, I have to wonder whether they would understand some of the more guttural Bradford slang that the book contains. I am sure however, that if they did not understand the intricacies, then they would have got the gist, I know that I came across some Anglo-Saxon phrases that I had not heard before, but don't let that (or the red and yellow cover) put you off, it is a good read.
Chrissi (9th July 2003)

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