Weirdo is a very powerful novel. Set in two time periods, the first in 1983 when a horrible crime is committed and the other 20 years later when a PI, Sean Ward, investigates what really happened. This is a book which starts off very slowly, and the first 50 pages or so are dedicated to setting the scene, introducing characters and lengthy descriptions of the locale. However, from then on tension gradually builds, alternating between each time period until the end when the two explosively collide.
Corinne is a strange girl who has been in a secure mental institution for twenty years, after having been convicted of the violent slaying of a schoolmate. Ward has been hired by a QC to investigate what really occurred in the small fictional seaside town of Ernemouth in East Anglia. Although one has a clear idea as to who the victim of the crime may well have been, this is not clarified until right at the end. This strategy works very well and it keeps you guessing throughout as it is easy to identify the two obvious candidates.
This is a story which works well on a number of levels. Ernemouth is described so well that it is easy to imagine walking the streets of this claustrophobic, run down seaside town. Character development is very good, except for the evil characters who remain rather shady and less well defined and this also is a very purposeful tactic used by the author. The institutional and somewhat incestuous corruption which has plagued the town for many years is particularly well portrayed.
Some will be tempted to abandon this book in the slow, early stages, but this would be a big mistake as it becomes an increasingly absorbing read, and the latter part is definitely of page turning intensity. The name of the book is, in my opinion, rather unfortunate and may also put off some readers unnecessarily. This is the first novel by Cathi Unsworth which I have read, but it is really so good that I plan to seek out her other books.