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Outside the White Lines [Hardcover]

Chris Simms
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Mar 2003
He's every policeman's worst nightmare - the killer who leads an innocuous and apparently blameless family life. His next murder can't be predicted: even he doesn't know when it is going to be. He roams the motorways, attacking breakdown victims who wait alone for help to arrive. Interwoven with his story is that of two people: the young policeman who loses the support of his colleagues during the murder hunt, battling even with his more experienced partner; and the Searcher. In the Searcher, Chris Simms has created a character who ranks alongside the best of Ruth Rendell's classic portrayals of psychological cripples. The author's depiction of the murderer's unravelling mind, the young policeman's self-doubt and the Searcher's strange obsession creates a darkly compelling psychological drama. As the book moves inexorably forward, all three are drawn together in a final meeting.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; First Edition edition (6 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091795389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091795382
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 849,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Simms has worked in airports, nightclubs, post offices and telesales centres. Along with nominations for Crime Writers' Association Daggers and the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year award, Chris was selected by Waterstones as one of their '25 authors for the future'.

The idea for his debut novel, Outside the White Lines, came to him in the early hours of the morning while broken down on the hard shoulder of the M40.
His series of DI Spicer novels - psychological thrillers set very firmly in Manchester - follow the police detective's fortunes as he pursues mad, bad and deadly individuals through the city's ever-changing landscape.

In October 2012, Scratch Deeper was launched - a new series featuring Detective Constable Iona Khan of Manchester Police's Counter Terrorism Unit.

Chris says he is drawn to books that give insights into unusual minds. The twisted desires of Frederick in John Fowles', The Collector; the tormented thoughts of Scobie in Graham Greene's Heart of the Matter; the violent urges of Francie in Patrick McCabe's Butcher Boy are all books Chris states had an influence in shaping him as a writer.

Product Description


'A gritty, suspense-filled first novel...a new crime writer who really knows his stuff - a compulsive and compelling read.' -- Publishing News

'Simms' fresh approach, and the way the story weaves between three viewpoints, makes this one of the most promising debuts in crime for some time.' -- City Life, Manchester

Page turning brilliance – I cannot recommend this highly enough.’ -- Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge

‘Chris Simms’ debut novel is a compelling psychological drama.’ -- Sky Text

From the Author

The idea for this novel came to me one Christmas when, driving home to my mum’s, our family car broke down not once, not twice but three times. By the third time it was the early hours of the morning and the motorway was almost deserted of other traffic. Eventually a white van with a flashing light pulled up behind us and I nearly got out of the car. But the way the driver and his passenger just sat there staring at our vehicle suddenly made me uneasy - and I realised how vulnerable we actually were.
After a couple of minutes of no one moving, he and his passenger got out and began sweeping up some debris from a previous crash that was behind our car. When they eventually carried on their way I saw that it was a motorway maintenance vehicle. But the possibility of it being someone far more sinister remained in my head.
The novel also arose from my own despair over how crowded Britain’s motorways are. Being delayed for hours has become a way of life for so many people using the roads for work purposes. Quite often I listen to the traffic reports on the radio at home and am amazed that the reports can take so long to read, the background music runs out. With congestion set to get worse by another 15% over the next few years, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone’s road rage tips them completely over the edge... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Scottish Dave VINE VOICE
"Outside The White Lines" is the debut novel from Chris Simms. It falls into the crime genre and follows the exploits of a roadside killer who is being tracked by a newly qualified police officer.
The idea of a killer who is prompted to kill by road rage made me chuckle and his character was well developed. The police officer's character was less well developed and I found it hard to have much feeling for him. The book also features a third character and it's an interesting concept having the story unfold from the point of view of 3 different characters. The plot unfolds fairly predictably and offers no great surprises.
Overall I found this a pleasant enough read but nothing particularly special. He's now published his second novel but I'll probably give that a miss. If you enjoy the crime genre you might want to give this book a try but its not essential reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad debut 3 Jun 2004
Motorway killer driven by road rage, a newly qualified cop and and obsessive collector are mixed up in this above average thriller. Chapters are focused on each of the characters as the story leads up to its slightly rushed climax.
I found the areas dealing with the Police a little weak but othwerwise it hangs together well.
Not a bad book to while away a couple of hours with and shows good promise for the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic debut 8 May 2004
By A Customer
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book - and the unexpected is one of its best features. Simms managed to keep me guessing about what would happen until right at the very end.
Sometimes crime novels can be disappointing because it seems inevitable that things will work out alright, but with this book the sense that things could go horribly wrong and the murderer will escape capture remains a continuous and very uncomfortable possibility. Simms uses elements that have been used in many other crime novels - such as the cat-and-mouse between a lone policeman and a suspected killer - but the way he plays with these ideas and subverts them to take the story into unexpected territory gives the book a new, original and intriguing angle that kept me turning the pages to find out how - and if - it would all be resolved.
The world Simms creates is not safe or comforting - but it feels real, and this makes for an exciting and unsettling read. The characters in the book are intriguing and well-drawn, especially the character of 'The Searcher', who is a totally fascinating and disturbing creation. The resolution of the story worked really well and drew it all together for a satisfying ending.
Fans of psychologically-based crime fiction will really enjoy this book. Well worth reading - I'll definitely be looking out for more from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skip this and get Pecking Order instead. 27 Feb 2013
Loved Pecking Order but this wasn't a patch on it ... possibly the start of Chris Simms honing his craft as The Searcher was a lovingly detailed, lonely creature who's past was told so we could understand why some people will always stand apart from the crowd. However, he neglected to do this with The Killer which is a complete mystery to me ... so why did he kill then ? Yeah, i get the usual angry 'roid rage waterboy's who are really coward's full of bluster but they don't all go out beating innocent men to death with monkey wrenches. Also, how did the red shoe end up in the lock up if she never went there & the other fell on the road ....?? Not too bad but a blessing it was short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Helen Simpson VINE VOICE
The story basically focusses on three characters who have reason to be on stretches of the motorway at night. My favourite character was The Searcher and the more we learned of him the more fascinating I found him.

Oddly enough this book made me realise that whilst some people don't like descriptive text about decomposing bodies, others dislike graphic violence (there is certainly an eeeuuuwww factor concerning the murders) I personally find reading about how cruelly people treat others more upsetting.

Although the book involves a police investigation into motorway killings, it's not a typical detective story. We know who the killer is throughout and because of the way the chapters are written, from the point of view of each of the three main characters, we also get an insight into their fears and motivation.

Motorways are lonely places at night and I'll probably never look at the central reservations in quite the same way again. Unlike some novels which when I hear their title, I struggle to remember what the story was about, this is a story that although relatively simple, will stay with me for quite a while.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very strong debut from a talented writer 20 Oct 2003
By J Lynch
Chris Simms professional writing career is off to a great start with Outside the White Lines,a tight psychological thriller that really stands out from the pack.
With just one novel, he already appears to be finding his own voice. All three of the major characters come across as being intriguing and unique. Each has been fleshed out enough that they are real people and not just archetypes.Too often we are given great writing with cardboard characters that are not compelling, but Chris makes each to stand out and gives us reason to care about the outcome and what happens to each of them.The climax is not run of the mill and is far more believable that the usual big fight.
If I have one complaint, it would be that the reasons for the perpetrator's actions were not clear to me. Not the reasons for his violence, that is explained quite well, but why he uses the unusual method he does. What caused him to pick this particular method? It is a minor issue in a book that is quite good and worth reading. Chris looks to have a bright future in crime fiction.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I read this book very quickly as I was keen to find out what happened next. It is well-written and gripping. I shall certainly be looking for more books by Chris Simms.
Published 2 months ago by Lesley K. Silvester
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read
A very well written book that gets you hooked from the beginning. A great plot that keeps you intrigued all the way through, right to a most unexpected ending. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jellibabee
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I tried my hardest to read this to the end but for the first time in a very long time I stopped reading it, and deleted of the kindle, I didn't think it flowed well and didn't like... Read more
Published 12 months ago by James Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read,
It keeps you guessing what certain people have to do with the story, great outcome. I couldnt put it down
Published 13 months ago by bluebell
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down.
This is a story that once you start you can not put down. A killer on the loose on the motorways of Britain. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Goodread
3.0 out of 5 stars Outside the white lines
Good read. Lots going off but easy enough to follow. slightly disappointed at the ending, as it seemed to be quite abrupt. Overall though, I would recommend.
Published 13 months ago by Leanne Boyes
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this author and this did not disappoint
A gripping story, very violent and menacing, characters are believable and although you knew 'who dunit' I coldn't put it down
Published 16 months ago by BRENDA DANBY
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically petrifying
A truly gripping thriller. Dramatic writing that is enough to have you in a petrified should you ever breakdown alone at night. Highly recommended!
Published on 2 May 2011 by Mr. R. A. Williams
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